You must research carefully to find just the right legal expert. You do not want a lawyer who does not take an interest in or learn about your business. You can ask accountants, bankers, other small-business owners, and friends for referrals. You can check with your state Bar association to find out if they have attorneys who specialize in representing small businesses. You can ask for and check the lawyer’s references. You can also look in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory.
You should not make your final decision based only on referrals or other sources. You must interview the lawyers that you believe would suit your business. You should be aware that many attorneys charge a consultation fee of $150 or more. That is a small amount to pay to be sure that the lawyer you choose can meet your needs and will really do a good job representing your business. You should also ask how the legal fees and costs are charged and whether you will receive an itemized billing to review before payment.
When you interview the attorney, be sure that the lawyer does not rush through the interview and gives you his or her full, undivided attention. Be sure that the lawyer understands your business, your industry, and its processes. The lawyer you choose must be willing to take as much time as needed to be sure you understand every legal issue that may arise and the possible consequences. Finally, the lawyer must be available to you whenever you need help, and it is not acceptable for the lawyer to turn your case completely over to the legal assistant after your retainer is paid.
Also, you must hire an attorney who has the right experience for your business needs. Ask the attorney how long he or she has been practicing law, what is your area of specialty, and have you represented companies like mine? Have the attorney introduce you to other attorneys and paralegals at your firm that would be working on your matters, and ask them about their experience.
If you want an attorney to prepare contracts and legal forms for you, ask to see samples of the kinds of legal forms that may be used for your business. If you want your attorney to incorporate your business, ask how many businesses he or she has incorporated. If you anticipate employment issues, be sure the attorney you hire knows the state and federal employment laws and has experience in handling employment matters.
If your company has tax issues, you must hire an experienced tax attorney. The tax laws are so complex that you should never hire any attorney who is not an experienced tax attorney. Similary, business and commercial litigation are complex, specialized areas of law. If you may be faced with litigation, be sure to hire an attorney who has litigation experience and a good record of success.
There may be other things that are important to you, and you should not hesitate to demand the type and quality of service that you deserve.