Choosing the Right
At some point, nearly
every small business owner will need the assistance of an attorney. It
may be when the business is first established or later to assist with
various legal contracts. Having the wrong one can result in bad decisions
or frustrations and expenses at the least. Here are some issues to consider
when choosing a new attorney or evaluating the service you are receiving
from your current legal advisor.
What services will
the attorney perform?
As with most professions, many attorneys have expertise in certain areas
and not in others. Many attorneys can assist in setting up a corporation
or reviewing a simple office lease, but only a few are experts in copyright
laws or securities work. Make sure your attorney is capable of doing what
you need done. If your attorney is inexperienced in an area, their advice
may be poor or you may pay for extra time as they learn about your issue.
Choose an attorney
that will say, "I don't know the answer and you should consult an
expert in that field." Many small business owners use different attorneys
for different tasks.
What size law firm
makes sense for you?
Small firms may provide more personal service, but what happens when your
attorney is on vacation when you have a time critical issue? Larger firms
may have back up, but may be more expensive.
How much do you
want to spend?
Attorneys that specialize in a certain area generally are able to charge
higher rates because of their expertise. But if you need the expertise,
their rates may be a bargain.
Don't be afraid to
ask about rates and billing practices. You may be able to save money by
How can you find
the right attorney?
Business associates, bankers and other small business owners are probably
your best source of information about attorneys that can serve your needs
best. You can also contact the American Bar Association or its local chapter
to learn more about attorneys in your area. Initial consultations are
usually free and can be a great way to determine whether a certain attorney
can provide what you need and do it in a professional and comfortable
Your attorney can
be an integral part of your team with advice, counsel and potentially
business for you. Choose wisely.