Owning and managing a business isn’t an activity for the faint of heart. Not only does it demand your time and creative resources, but it’s also inherently risky.
Any time money is involved, people and companies may target you for one reason or another. And that could lead to any number of legal problems that compel you to locate and hire a business attorney.
Why You Need a Business Attorney
You might be able to operate for a brief period without the services of a business lawyer, but sooner or later you’re bound to encounter a situation where you can’t do without one.
Specifically, a business attorney can help you:
Avoid lawsuits. Sometimes you need legal counsel to help prevent a situation from becoming a problem. For example, an attorney can help you incorporate your business properly so it’s in full compliance with state and industry regulations.
Defend lawsuits. Businesses typically need a lawyer the most when they find themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit. A good attorney will increase your chances of coming out on top.
Filing lawsuits. If your firm has been wronged or its rights and properties infringed, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit and recoup damages, or at least put a stop to the problem.
Protect assets. From patents to trademarks, a qualified business lawyer can assist your company in claiming what is rightfully its own.
Handle transactions. In terms of mergers and acquisitions, real estate deals, contracts, and other vital transactions, an attorney’s advice can be invaluable.
You might not need a business lawyer around the clock, but when you need one, you really need one. Failing to recognize or acknowledge this will only hurt your company.
What to Look For
Business attorneys aren’t hard to come by. There are probably a dozen within a short drive from your office. But good business attorneys who are qualified to handle your legal needs aren’t as easy to locate.
Here’s what you need to look for:
Experience is supremely critical. An attorney who recently graduated from law school and passed the bar exam may have head knowledge, but there’s going to be minimal real-world experience there. You have to have both.
Look for attorneys who have been practicing for a number of years and have a strong reputation among their past clients and peers in the industry. You can learn some of this via word of mouth.
There are also plenty of websites and online tools that furnish reviews and ratings.
2. Diverse Services
There’s something to be said for specialization, but you should be wary of working with a lawyer who focuses on one specific type of case. Though that expert might be able to help you now, it’s possible that you’ll have to find another attorney if you encounter further problems down the road. A good business law firm will offer an array of services.
Take Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP as an example. They’re experienced in business disputes, defamation, idea theft, insurance bad faith, intellectual property, trade secrets, patents, and more than a dozen other areas of business law. That’s the kind of diversity you want in your legal counsel.
3. Billing Structure
A business attorney can be expensive. Failing to consider pricing and pricing structures before entering into a relationship is foolish. Several different structures may be available to you, including:
Flat fee. For simple legal needs — such as drafting a contract or filing a transaction — flat fees may apply. In this case, the price you see is the price you pay.
Hourly. Many attorneys operate on an hourly-fee rate, in which they bill you based on the number of hours it takes them to handle your various issues. Since excellent business attorneys can charge several hundred dollars per hour — and bill in increments as small as 0.1 hours — this can get expensive fairly quickly.
Contingency. In the case of a lawsuit, it’s preferable to work with an attorney who charges on a contingency basis. In this situation, you only pay if and when the outcome is favorable to you.
It’s also wise to consider availability. Will you be working directly with the attorney? Or will most of your work be handed off to paralegals?
Making the Smart Choice
Don’t assume that any lawyer will do. When you need to hire a business attorney to represent your firm, take the time to vet the options and choose the best. You won’t regret having performed due diligence.