You might be in the camp of people who avoid hiring a business lawyer until you feel it is absolutely necessary (usually when you are being sued). “We get it, Hollywood doesn’t exactly paint lawyers in the best light, and most people don’t realize how much day-to-day help lawyers can offer businesses,” according to Brad Nakase a Los Angeles business attorney at the Nakase Wade law firm. Well in this article, we hope to change your misconceptions and help you to see that if you wait until you are sued, it is way too late to hire a business attorney.
Why Is It Too Late to Hire a Business Attorney When You Are Being Sued?
What do you think is the best option for reducing issues in your business?
- Wait until everything goes wrong and an issue is made public, costing you lots of money to fix
- Prevent the problem in the first place by paying an expert a small amount of money to reduce the likelihood of any problems
Option a is putting off hiring a business attorney until you are sued. Lawsuits move quickly in the beginning, and you have time limits to respond to the notification and gather evidence. If you don’t have a business attorney, much of that precious time is spent getting the lawyer familiar with your business and the context for the issue.
On the other hand, option b is hiring a lawyer from the very start. Every aspect of your business is built on a solid foundation of legal compliance. Your employment contracts are very clear and enforceable and drafted by lawyers for work. Your business entity is selected to be as tax efficient as possible, and your employee policies promote equality and diversity in the workplace.
A business attorney is your new company’s number one asset. You will have an expert on your side who can counsel you on the pros and cons of every business decision and stop you from walking into legal pitfalls.
Not only that, they can help with a lot of the complicated aspects of starting a business, like:
- Choosing a business entity
- Protecting intellectual property
- Zoning and real estate
- Employment practices
Having a business lawyer on your team will make the whole process of starting a business much more simple. Let us help you focus on the parts you enjoy.
How Do I Find The Right Business Lawyer For My Company?
Having the wrong business lawyer will not make your life easier. You need someone you trust and who you feel comfortable working with. You also need to have legal assistance that works for your budget.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a business attorney.
As a startup, money is very important. While legal assistance will pay dividends in the future in terms of preventing legal issues and reducing the damage of any claims, you don’t need to bankrupt your business before you’ve even opened. One of the most important factors will be lawyer fees. In particular:
- Their fee structure
- How much they charge
- If they are open to a little bit of negotiation
However, legal counsel is not an area you can afford to pinch the pennies. In general, the more experienced and skilled an attorney is the higher their fees. If you are new to the business and looking for expertise from your lawyer, it is worth paying a little more for legal counsel. The cost of living in the local area will also affect their fees.
Law Firm Size
There are law firms of all sizes and structure out there, so you need to look at what works best for you. There are solo practitioners out there who will always be your point of contact, but it will be difficult to get hold of them while they are working on something for another client. There are boutique law firms that are cost-effective and efficient but do not have a reputation that makes people take legal threats seriously. There are also large law firms that are more expensive but have large reputations and many different disciplines under one roof. You need to consider what works best for you and your company because the options are limitless.
Other factors to consider are:
- Law firm’s track record
- The lawyer’s track record
- What types of cases they specialize in
- The types of businesses they work with
- If they can help you with legal assistance in other jurisdictions and if that is a service you may need.
When evaluating attorneys, consider their industry knowledge as well as their general legal knowledge. Look up their history of cases and if they won cases in your industry or not and some of their clients. While doing this, you need to think about what areas of your business may require legal assistance and if the lawyer has the skills to help you. If you are looking to franchise your business or purchase a franchise, then you need an attorney who has worked with a number of franchise business models, ideally on both sides. Pick one or two aspects that are key to your business, like your business model, industry, or core product or service and focus on those.
A mark of a good business lawyer is one who freely educates their clients and empowers them to handle the simple things themselves. Look for an attorney who publishes free resources and information on their website and sends a newsletter to their clients with updates on laws and best practices. This shows that they care about their clients and want to free up their time to deal with complex issues.
At some point, you will need to work with other attorneys. This could be because you need help with a complex issue that is outside of your lawyer’s expertise or because you are facing a lawsuit in another country or state. Your attorney needs to have a network of connections so that they can refer you to the right person for you when these things happen. Working with a big law firm with offices in many states is the easiest way to ensure good connections, but most business attorneys will have good networks that they can tap into.