Every business owner will find they need an attorney at some point. However, they may not know where to turn when that day arrives. The problem often lies in knowing which type of attorney to retain. When the right attorney is selected, they help the business save money by avoiding litigation and the accompanying court costs.
Find a business lawyer with the help of services designed for this purpose. They will provide you with several ways to locate attorneys who may help. It then falls on the business owner to choose the one that best meets their needs.
What Does a Business Lawyer Do?
Business lawyers take on many tasks. They help entrepreneurs with business formation, contract writing, and other jobs. However, many attorneys choose to focus their practices on a specific area of law. For example, a real estate attorney is helpful when a person wishes to buy, sell, or lease commercial properties. On the other hand, the business owner would want a tax attorney to help deal with tax agencies and plan for taxes. Many entrepreneurs find they need an attorney that focuses on commercial litigation, as any dispute with a client may end up in court. Where should the business owner turn for help?
The American Bar Association
Contact the American Bar Association to learn of attorneys in the area that focus on commercial litigation. Countless entrepreneurs turn to Google to find attorneys who handle commercial matters, but this search engine should only be one resource used in the quest to find a lawyer. Referrals from others in the industry often help, as they have worked with attorneys on similar matters and can provide information on how their cases were handled.
State and local bar associations are other great resources when the time comes to hire an attorney. Online directories, such as Avvo or Martindale Hubbell, may be used or a person might turn to online listings or review sites. Gather a list of names that appear multiple times on lists from these resources and begin contacting the attorneys to set up consultations.
Before meeting with any attorney, develop a set of questions to ask at each consultation. When a business owner asks the same questions of multiple people, it becomes easier to compare the answers and make the choice. Questions should cover topics such as the attorney’s preferred area of work, their experience within the industry and with similar cases, and their fee structure.
Learn about any conflicts of interest that may arise because of the attorney’s prior work. Discuss communication as the case progresses. Who will be the point of contact within the firm? Will the attorney be available if needed, or will someone else on the legal team handle problems? Who appears in court on behalf of the business owner? It surprises many people to learn they only meet with the attorney initially when working with some firms. Other staff members handle all aspects of the case after this initial meeting.
One thing many people overlook when meeting with attorneys is personality. However, a case may drag on for an extended period or a business owner might find they are sued multiple times. Find an attorney that is friendly, easy to reach, and personable. This makes handling challenging cases easier. No business owner wants to work with someone they don’t like.
What to Bring to the Consultations
Business owners should bring certain information with them to each consultation. This includes information about the business and any current legal actions being taken against the organization. The attorney can review this information and determine whether they can help. If they feel they cannot, they will often recommend an attorney who can. In addition, bring all documents related to the legal action. The attorney will need to look these over to get a full understanding of the case.
Red Flags When Hiring an Attorney
When choosing an attorney, attempt to reach each prospect once or twice. Use various methods to do so, including email and phone. Communication is important during a legal case, so if an attorney is non-responsive or takes days to return the call or email, look elsewhere for legal guidance.
If an attorney refuses to answer questions about their fee structure, take their name off the list and move to the next prospect. No business owner wants to find they have won a lawsuit, but the attorney’s fees are so high they cannot continue to operate the business. Every lawyer should willingly share information about their fees and any additional expenses a client may incur.
No attorney can guarantee how a court case will end. If the attorney promises a win, the business owner needs to choose another legal team. Juries are unpredictable, and what may appear to be a clear-cut case could end with the business owner losing. Attorneys should never make promises they cannot keep.
Additional Red Flags
If an attorney tries to rush through the initial consultation, thank them for their time and leave. They should spend time nurturing the relationship right from the beginning of the partnership. A failure to do so often means they won’t nurture the relationship once it is established. The business owner is left feeling as if they have no help even though they are paying for guidance.
When visiting an attorney’s office, look around. If any client files are visible, see if the names can be read. Attorneys need to protect sensitive client information at all times. If they don’t, find another attorney. No business owner wants their personal information to be shared with the wrong parties.
Avoid any attorney who is condescending when they speak to a potential client. Attorneys are there to help people, not to make them feel uneducated or ignorant. Any attorney that treats a client in this manner should be avoided.
When a person knows what to look for when hiring an attorney, they feel more confident taking this step. The above tips will help as the process moves forward. The attorney serves as a partner to the business owner, so never rush this decision. This is one relationship that both parties should want to last for years to come.