Hiring the right small business lawyer for your business is critical. But with so many seemingly qualified attorneys out there, how do you know you're picking the right one?
As with most aspects of your business, you will have to do some research, interview several candidates, and ask a lot of pressing questions.
- Do You "Get" My Industry? A Silicon Valley startup is far different from a small restaurant in the suburbs. So while one lawyer may have impressive degrees from Harvard, you may want to choose another lawyer who actually has experience in your business area, Venture Beat suggests.
- Do You Understand My Goals and Needs? An business that is just starting off has many different legal issues than a well established business. Make sure that your lawyer knows the unique considerations for a business at your stage of growth.
- Which Lawyer Will Actually Do the Work? You might be hiring the most expensive law firm in town, but you could get "stuck" with the least experienced lawyer in the office handling most of your legal affairs, or even a paralegal. Make sure you know who is actually performing the work for you; it's typically spelled out in your client agreement.
- How Much Do You Have to Pay? Understand any fee structures upfront, so you're not surprised when the bill comes. You may also want to check out some tips on how to avoid jaw-dropping legal bills, since you can't really control your lawyer's hourly rate.
- Do You Like the Person? Your attorney is your representative and advocate. Be comfortable working with that person and sharing your confidential information. Oftentimes, the most "qualified" attorney is not the best match for personality reasons.
- What Is Your Number? You want to be able to reach your lawyer when you need him. So a lawyer who hesitates when asked to provide his cell phone number may be a lawyer who will not be there when you need him.
- How Do We Break Up? Not every match works out. You'll want to know the process for unwinding your relationship in case you ever need to get a new lawyer.
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