A good lawyer is an essential asset for your company. They provide you with assistance in almost every aspect of your business, from business partnerships to lawsuits.
That is why you need to choose a lawyer for your business carefully.
Here are a few factors to consider.
Choose the Right Type of Lawyers
The law field is large and complex. Avoid hiring lawyers who are jacks of all trades. To make sure your business needs are met, team up with a lawyer specializing in the area you need.
For example, if an employee has violated the local traffic law while driving for work, traffic tickets lawyers can dispute the charges against them.
If you want someone to cover your company’s compliance with state laws, international business planning, and mergers, hire a corporate attorney.
Tax lawyers will help you with business registration for federal and state tax identification numbers. They will also explain the tax consequences of your business transactions.
For long-term legal counsel for your company, hire a reliable business lawyer. They are like general practice doctors. They perform checkups and put you in touch with specialists when you need them.
Some other fields of law you should know of are bankruptcy law, environmental law, intellectual property law, labor law, real estate law, personal injury law, and health law.
Find a Lawyer Who Understands your Industry
If your business lawyer does not understand how your business operates, you may face multiple communication issues.
Whether you are hiring an in-house attorney or outsourcing your legal issues, make sure the lawyer is somewhat familiar with your niche and its legal environment. If not, they should be willing to learn the basics of your industry while collaborating with you.
They should also have experience with your particular legal issue. As mentioned above, business lawyers specialize in a specific business area and niche. However, if you have multiple issues related to starting a business, you may want to hire a generalist lawyer.
That is particularly important to businesses operating in highly regulated industries, such as education or healthcare. For example, if you are opening a private hospital, a lawyer familiar with the complex web of laws in the healthcare industry may help you a lot.
Finally, make sure they have experience with your particular legal issue. For example, when launching a business or relocating a business, hiring a generalist lawyer may be a wise move.
Pick the Law Company of the Right Size
You can hire solo practitioners, small law firms, or big law firms. Your choice depends on multiple factors, such as your industry, company size, budget, business requirements, etc.
For example, if you are running a Fortune 500 company, you will probably hire an in-house legal department and hire a large legal company to support you. On the other hand, startups and brick-and-mortar stores often hire smaller legal businesses or independent contractors.
You should also consider your resources. The larger the law firm, the higher the hourly rates you will have to pay.
Even though it is pricier, hiring big law firms provides multiple business benefits.
For starters, today’s lawyers specialize in narrower areas of law. Therefore, a solo attorney or a small law firm may not have all the skills and tools your business needs. When faced with the area of law they do not cover, they will have to refer you to a specialist in that field. Over time, you may find yourself hiring two or even more lawyers. On the other hand, large law companies hire diverse teams of lawyers. They have all legal skills and knowledge under one roof.
Make Sure a Lawyer is Flexible in their Billing
Make sure your communication with a potential lawyer is honest and transparent. Do not be hesitant about bringing their fees up. Irrespective of your business size, you need to understand the law company’s billing system so you can plan for your legal costs.
Now, there are different types of legal fees. Most business lawyers work on an hourly basis, meaning they charge you for each hour they spend working on your case. Some use flat fees, usually for routine legal tasks. They bill a fixed amount for each service. The savviest and most flexible of them combine these approaches depending on the project.
For instance, if your company needs help with a complex merger negotiation, a lawyer will probably bill you on an hourly basis. On the other hand, if they know exactly what kind of legal service you need and what it is going to take, they may decide to set a fixed fee for the case.
Ask the Right Questions
Once you narrow your list down, keep asking law companies the right questions. Besides their fees and experience in your industry, you should also ask the following:
How will you communicate with me?
Different lawyers have different communication methods. While some rely on in-person meetings, others prefer email software. Irrespective of their communication channels, make sure their communication with you is honest. They should communicate urgent matters and inform you about the progress of your case in real-time.
Do you have any conflicts of interest with my company or niche?
Does your business lawyer work with the businesses in your community? For example, let’s say your small business has a contract dispute with a local supplier. If the lawyer has already represented them in court, they cannot collaborate with you while working on the same case.
Who else will be working on my case?
We have already emphasized that big law firms have diverse teams of lawyers. They collaborate with paralegals, law clerks, and associates, too. Sometimes, when they lack time, lawyers outsource some of their work to junior-level team members. That is why it is crucial to know who will work on your case.
Are You Ready to Hire a Business Lawyer?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a business lawyer. Your choice depends on your company’s specific needs, budget, and industry. I hope these general rules will help you make the right decision faster.