Many entrepreneurs and small business owners find it difficult to negotiate with their attorney. Entrepreneurs may suffer from a lack of familiarity with the attorney/client relation, and some small business owners have so much at stake in a lawsuit (and put so much in their attorneys hands) that they fear challenging their attorney in any meaningful way. The following tips will help ease this potentially tense interaction.
Tip #1 Use a proxy
The best way to deal with the uncomfortable matter of negotiations with your attorney is by using a proxy to interact with your attorney. A proxy is essentially a deputy who acts as a substitute for the main decision-maker. Large corporations typically have in-house counsel or accounting departments act as their hatchet-men when problems arise. If you own a small business, you may want to have your company accountant or other relevant employee have these negotiations with your attorney.
Additionally, if you are the principal of your company, using a proxy for less important issues will free up your time for more important matters. You probably don’t want to spend too much time on distracting issues like legal fees if you are busy running a lucrative business, especially when a proxy will be more effective as a negotiator.
Tip #2 Develop a company policy on dealing with outside counsel
It is much easier to cite a company policy than have to explain your decision-making. To this effect, your company should develop a comprehensive policy for dealing with outside counsel. Certain problems are almost always going to be at issue with outside counsel, and the development of a company policy will put your company in a stronger bargaining position when dealing with these issues.
Tip #3 Develop Billing Guidelines for Outside Counsel
Billing guidelines are used by savvy companies in order to detail exactly what an attorney can bill for and exactly how much they can charge. Billing guidelines are extremely effective in reducing your attorneys’ fees, since they provide rigid requirements for your attorney to follow, such as the extras you will be obligated to pay as well as staffing for your case.
These guidelines should contain attorney billing rules that are favorable to your company. This alone can avoid many issues with legal fees, and save your company thousands of dollars in the process. Making these billing requirements clear and comprehensive will leave a lot of power with the client, since many terms can be dictated in this regard. Sample billing guidelines are available at www.LowerMyAttorneysFees.com
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