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How to Hire Legal Counsel for Your Business

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By Jason Beahm on December 06, 2010 5:50 AM

Thinking about adding legal counsel to your company? Perhaps you realize that your business needs legal advice but you're not sure whether you should bring someone on board and hire in house counsel. Inc. recently published an article laying out some considerations to take into account.

FindLaw has some excellent resources, as well, including hiring and firing, including how to negotiate your new attorney's position.

Here is a brief overview of some of the key points involved in adding legal counsel:

Consider size

Figure out what kind of expertise you need and then consider the size of your company. Different attorneys are right for different jobs. "Smaller businesses that are growing and that have very specialized needs such as IP protection or raising equity capital may also benefit from working with at least a mid-sized firm," Ken Halkin, a veteran business consultant, told Inc.

Larger businesses often prefer working with larger firms, while smaller businesses may be better off with a mid-size or small firm for legal counsel. You should also make sure you find out who is going to be working on your case for you. Sometimes you will meet with a partner initially but an associate will be doing your legal work. If that's not what you want, you need to discuss that up front.

Go general, then specialize

When you're looking at your first general counsel, you want someone who is a bit of a generalist. That way, they can cover the main legal issues that pop up and can seek out a specialist when necessary.

Make your choice

After you identify candidates, you should narrow your list to a top three and then conduct interviews. Leland Montgomery, principal at Lemont Group, told Inc. he likes to set up two rounds of interviews and give the candidates an opportunity to analyze key legal and business issues and have them respond. Montgomery is often surprised by the variance in quality of the responses. And as a bonus, you get a bit of free legal advice in the process.

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