Legal Lessons: What to Know When Hiring a Lawyer
Are you in the process of hiring a lawyer? If so, find some important and helpful information to help you with this process here.
Business contracts account for over 60% of all civil cases filed in a year. Therefore, if you engage in business contracts, the question is when will you get sued and not if you get sued.
To stay on the safe side when the inevitable happens, consider hiring a lawyer on a retainer basis.
A business lawyer offers assistance in various vital aspects of your business, including compliance, liability, business incorporation, copyright, and advice on trademark, among others.
General Rules When Hiring a Lawyer
Don’t Wait Until You’re Being Sued to Hire an Attorney
Many people wait until they’re served with a summon to hire an attorney. Waiting that long leaves you no time to build a good relationship with the attorney. With such limited time, your only worry is to get an attorney to keep you out of court, regardless of how much it will cost you.
It’s better to pay a lawyers fee to keep you out of trouble than wait until you’re in trouble and hire a lawyer to get you out. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand this and will wait until it’s too late. Since many attorneys understand this weakness in many people, they charge more if you seek their services after you’ve already been summoned.
Avoid Free Consultations
When seeking an attorney for hire, you’ll need to interview several of them before you decide the right one to represent you. Most of these you interview will offer you a free consultation to help you determine when their services suit your needs.
Assuming that the free legal advice you get when in search for the right attorney to represent is enough can make you miss a lot. Some pitfalls of free consultations for professional services providers are that you get limited advice, which cannot solve your legal issues. Instead of settling for this, use it to determine if you want to hire that specific attorney.
The Larger the Law Firm, the Better
Small law firms have the advantage that their hourly rates are generally lower compared to larger firms. However, they are not as specialized as larger firms since their overhead is usually smaller. This means that if you hire a small law firm, you may not get all legal advice under one roof.
At some point, a law firm with less than 10 lawyers and offering general legal services will refer you to a specialist. In the long run, you’ll find yourself dealing with more than one attorney.
Although dealing with larger firms is expensive, they have two significant benefits. One is that you get all your legal advice requirements under one roof. Second is that they have a strong influence in local, regional, and sometimes national legal community.
When You Need an Attorney’s Help
When running a business, you’re likely to face several legal issues that require the assistance of an attorney. With the help of an attorney, it’s easier to determine which situations need expert assistance. Before you start wondering how to hire an attorney, let’s look at some cases that might call for his help.
If You’ve Been Sued
When running a business, the best thing is to do your best to avoid facing lawsuits. But since some things are inevitable, make sure you have a good relationship with a highly reputable attorney. Paying for retainer attorney fees is cheaper than hiring a lawyer when you’re already in trouble.
When You’ve Contracts to Sign
Many people assume that using resources available online can help you create and sign a contract without seeking lawyers help. Although there’s some truth in this, a lawyer will help you in creating a contract that protects both parties involved. Also, an attorney creates an agreement that can be used in more than one business transaction.
Creating a contract without using a lawyer’s services can result in constant legal battles. In the long run, you realize that hiring attorneys to create contracts is cheaper than engaging in constant legal battles.
When There’s Property Involved
If buying or leasing a property for your business, both you and the landlord need a robust contract to your interests. In such cases, a lawyer will help you draft a contract that protects your needs and that of the landlord.
There are different types of properties involved in business other than real estate. For instance, where there’s intellectual property involved, not everything is in black and white. In such cases, the services of an attorney will help you in matters of trademark and copyrights.
If You’re Under Investigation
You might find yourself under investigation if your business has violated certain laws or as part of the tax audit. Other times, an employee may accuse you of for things such as wrongful firing. If either of such things happens, you’ll need a lawyer to help you handle the situation.
Avoiding getting into the above situations is always better than trying to get out when the worst has already happened. Hiring a business attorney on retainer basis ensures that you get advice on how to avoid getting into situations.
When Buying or Selling a Company
An attorney plays a significant role in helping you with the legalities involved when buying or selling a company. He ensures that the two parties involved in the venture follow the law to the letter and, hence, the success of the business.
How to Hire an Attorney
When faced with circumstances that require legal representation, you need to make sure that you’re working with the best attorney. The following steps will guide when looking for an attorney for hire.
Determine Why You Need a Business Attorney
When running a business, you’re most likely to find yourself in the above-discussed situations that require the services of an attorney. Instead of waiting until you’re in the situation, hire a lawyer for your business on a retainer basis. This way, it will be cheaper when you need legal representation.
Be Specific about the Type of Lawyer You Need
Many business attorneys offer various formation services such as drafting partnership agreements, LLC or corporation creation and writing business contracts. It’s important to inquire whether he will customize these documents to match your business needs.
Focus on looking for a lawyer who specializes in your area of need, such as tax law. However, you can hire a general lawyer on a long-term basis, provided he’ll refer you to a specialist attorney when the need arises.
A Good Lawyer Knows Your Business Niche or Must Be Willing To Learn
Hiring a general business lawyer is a good idea. But if the lawyer has no clue about what your business is about, then there’s going to be a communication barrier.
However, if you find a lawyer who shows the willingness to learn about your business and your clients, then go ahead and hire him.
However, if you work in a more specialized and regulated industry, you’ll need a lawyer who has a deeper knowledge of the industry. In such a case, an attorney who is learning to match your needs may not be fit.
Hire a Law Firm of Suitable Size
When hiring legal services, you have the option to either pick a large, firm, small firm or a sole practitioner. Each one of these choices has a set of advantages and disadvantages. Which one you pick depends on the size and the requirements of your business.
In most cases, small businesses and startups find it hard to secure the services of large law firms. A large law firm a fortune representing a business empire finds it hard to respond to the needs of smaller businesses.
Another setback of choosing a large law firm to represent your small business is that you’re not sure who they’ll assign your cases. Some questions to ask yourself include;
- I’m I willing to be assigned a fresh law graduate to handle the legal issues of my business?
- How long will the associate I’m assigned going to work with the firm?
- Will he leave the firm just when I’m getting used to dealing with him?
- How soon does the law firm take to process my file or do they pass it from one office to the another?
The answers to these inquests will help you determine the right size of a law firm to work with. Regardless of the size of the firm you choose, you need to inquire up front who you will be dealing with. How will you get in touch with the lawyer, and what is his availability in case of an emergency?
Look for an Attorney Who Offers More than Legal Services
Reliable legal services are expensive, and it’s not always you get to use the services you pay to retain your lawyer. To ensure you maximally utilize the retainer fees you pay, consider asking the following questions when hiring a law firm;
- Does the law firm hold networking dinners for their clients?
- Are they willing to refer you to specialized attorneys if need be?
- What trade associations or groups are they a part of, and how can these groups benefit your business?
- Are they willing to refer you to any potential clients or strategic partners?
Creating a Good Relationship with a Lawyer Saves You on a Rainy Day
There you have it, a complete guide to hiring a lawyer. Consider using it to ensure you’re not confused where to start when served with an unexpected court summons.
Did you find this guide educational? Check out our other posts that will equip you with insightful business tips.