5 Things to Think About When Finding a Lawyer for Business
Choosing the right commercial litigator lawyer can be a daunting task, especially when you're starting a new business. The legal system is complicated, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the jargon and unfamiliar terms. A good lawyer will help you navigate this unfamiliar territory and make sure that your business is set up properly from day one. Here are some steps for finding the best attorney for your business:
1. Take into account the type of lawyer you need
A good lawyer can help you with a range of business-related legal issues. Before you start looking for the right attorney, it's important to know what type of lawyer you need.
Consider the type of your business. Some businesses require more specialized legal help than others. For example, if you own an engineering firm with many employees and overseas clients, then you'll want an employment law expert on staff or as your outside counsel. If all you're selling is cupcakes from your home kitchen, then employment law isn't exactly relevant for your needs as an entrepreneur—and neither is hiring a team member who specializes in employee benefits compliance!
Consider the types of legal issues facing your business and its owners (you!). Your situation may call for advice on contract drafting or litigation strategy; if so, a transactional attorney could be more useful than someone who focuses primarily on criminal defense work (though don't forget that some firms offer both services). But if none of these scenarios apply to either yourself or any other member(s) within your organization, then perhaps general counsel would be most appropriate: someone who works with clients across industries to address whatever needs arise from day-to-day operations but doesn't necessarily specialize in one area over another—just like what happens when working with us here at LegalZoom
2. Research lawyers' backgrounds
Look at the lawyer's experience. If you're going to spend time and money on a lawyer, it's important to have someone with relevant experience. For example, if you run a software company and need help with patent law, you'll want to find a lawyer who has experience in that area.
Look at their education. Just as important as experience is education—and a good way to learn about both is by looking at what schools they attended (and how prestigious those schools were). You can also look for some of their awards or accolades from those universities and organizations.
3. Assess the lawyers' qualifications
Before you hire a lawyer, assess his or her qualifications.
Look at the lawyer's experience. Lawyers who have been practicing law for many years are likely to be more knowledgeable in their fields than those with less experience.
Check the attorney's education credentials. A law degree from a prestigious university can indicate that the attorney is highly qualified, but this isn't always true—some attorneys choose to go to lesser-known schools and still become successful lawyers later on in life.
Consider awards and achievements earned by the attorney throughout his or her career, as well as any professional affiliations he or she may have with other businesses, organizations, and associations that could affect your case.
4. Consult with the lawyer
Consulting with a lawyer before you hire him or her is essential to making sure you find the right fit for your business. You should do this in person if possible, but phone appointments are okay too.
Ask about their experience. The more experience a lawyer has, the better they will be able to help you with your case.
Ask about their background. Ideally look for a law firm that specializes in your situation—for example, if it's an employment matter then find someone who specializes in labor law instead of general civil litigation or real estate law.
5. Evaluate your initial consultation
The initial consultation is your chance to ask questions about the lawyer's experience and approach, as well as to get a better feel for the person you'll be working with. The following are some of the key things to consider:
What kinds of cases does he/she handle?
How much does it cost? Are there payment plans, or do you need to pay in full at once?
When can we expect results from this case? Is there an estimated timeline for resolution?
What kind of communication will I have with my lawyer throughout this process (phone calls, emails, meetings in person)?
Steps to select a lawyer for business
Select a lawyer who is experienced in your type of business.
Find a lawyer who is qualified and experienced in your type of business.
Ensure the lawyer is experienced in your specific area of business.