Setting up and running your own small business isn’t easy. There are a lot of different aspects to take into consideration in finding a business lawyer, and a lot of responsibilities for business owners to deal with every day.
From marketing to branding to management, human resources, product development, and more, you have so much to think about, and the unexpected arrival of a legal issue can make matters so much more complicated.
So what do you do when a legal matter presents itself, especially if your company is going up against a much bigger business with their own legal teams and lots of resources? Well, the best option is to turn to a small business lawyer you can rely on.
There are countless business lawyers out there, specialized and experienced in the world of work and able to handle a variety of different legal matters connected with company life, such as breaches of contract or economic tort claims, but how do you choose which one is right for you?
Well, many of the best lawyers offer a free consultation, during which you can ask questions and get to know your potential attorney, finding out more about how they work, what sort of experience they have, how they plan on handling your case, and so on. Here are some key questions to ask them.
How much will it cost?
One of the main things many people want to know when hiring an attorney of any kind is how much will it cost and how will they be expected to pay. This is true of individuals hiring their own personal injury attorneys and entrepreneurs looking for business attorneys too, and it can actually be a massive factor for business owners, as you’ll need to factor the legal fees in which your existing budget.
A lot of people aren’t exactly sure how much lawyers tend to charge, and the truth of the matter is that attorney fees can vary quite a lot, depending on a range of different factors like the firm you contact, the nature of the case, and how much work will need to be done. For these reasons, it’s always wise to start off a consultation by being up-front and asking your attorney how much you’ll be expected to pay. You can also ask if there is any way to reduce the costs by helping out with document preparation and data collection.
How will I be expected to pay?
Following on from the previous question, it’s important to note that as well as knowing how much you’ll have to pay upon finding a business lawyer, you’ll also want to find out how you’ll actually have to pay the necessary fees. For example, some lawyers might expect a retainer, which is a kind of advance payment and is customary for many business cases, but other attorneys won’t require this.
Some of them may charge differently, too. Certain lawyers will have flat rates per case, for instance, while others will have hourly rates, leading to higher costs for longer cases. Some will want to be paid during the course of the case, while others will accept payment at the end. It’s wise to make sure you fully understand the payment structure of your chosen attorney before making any agreements.
How much experience do you have in my industry?
There are more than a million attorneys operating in the US today, and one of the first things everyone should learn about attorneys is that they can have completely different areas of expertise. Some will be experts in family law, others will be focused on criminal law, and so on. Even within these fields, more divisions of knowledge can arise.
For example, among business lawyers, you may find some who are used to handling cases for large financial companies and others who have more experience with smaller businesses in different industries. Depending on the nature of your work and your case, it’s often recommended to find a business attorney with plenty of experience in your specific industry.
How do you see the case going?
Ultimately, the simple fact of the matter is that if you’re contacting a lawyer, it’s because you’re planning to enter or already in the midst of a legal case and need someone to guide you through towards a satisfactory conclusion. So there’s no harm at all in asking your lawyer how they see the case progressing and what sorts of chances of success they envision for your business.
This will not only give you an idea of how likely you are to get a good outcome, but it will also provide you with some insight into your lawyer’s confidence levels and manner of working. You may be able to identify, for example, whether your lawyer is more prone to taking the case all the way to court or trying to resolve conflict or disputes outside of court if possible.
How will we communicate as the case proceeds?
This is another key question to take into consideration, as attorneys can often have totally different ways of communicating with clients during the development of cases. Some of them are highly accessible, ready to respond to calls and messages at a moment’s notice, while others might seem to go ‘off the radar’ for days at a time.
Asking how your lawyer plans to communicate with you will help you get a good idea of their specific way of working, as well as helping you find someone who works in a way that matches your style too. Some may like to do a lot over the phone and via email, for instance, while others will prefer organizing in-person briefings and meetings with their client to keep you updated on new developments.
Getting in touch with a business lawyer can feel like quite an intimidating process for a small business owner, especially if you don’t have too much experience in legal matters, but it’s important to remember that you’re in charge and can make the most of consultations to find the right legal representation in the same way you’d interview multiple applicants for a position at your business.