Need a Lawyer? How to Find Legal Representation for Your Small Business
by NicoleD, Former Moderator
- Created: March 23, 2010, 10:55 pm
- Updated: February 10, 2011, 4:05 pm
Whether you find yourself grappling with an employment issue, sparring with a business partner, or just need some guidance on filing the proper paperwork, you may need to turn to a small business lawyer.
It's pretty easy to search for lawyers online or in the phone book, but that can be a frustrating and fruitless process. There are many factors to consider when hiring a good small business lawyer, but here are a few tips to get you started:
Research, Research, Research
Imagine if you had a serious medical condition and needed to find a good doctor. Chances are you wouldn't just show up at the first office you found. You would take the time to research doctors in your area, learn their credentials, ask for references from friends and family, etc. Now, if your business is 'sick,' just apply the same logic.
It's much easier to hone in on a lead than to find good representation on a hunch. Ask others in your network if they've had good experiences with a local lawyer.
Lawyers can specialize in various fields, so be sure to research the ones who have experience with small business clients. If you don't know anyone with a small business attorney, inquire at your Chamber of Commerce, local professional associations, or bar associations.
Ask for a Consultation
Once you find a few good leads, ask for consultations. Some offices may charge a fee, while others offer free consults. Be prepared to explain your situation in a concise, clear way, and don't omit key details. During the sit-down, inquire about fees, what your options might be, your chances of success, who will do the work, and when the problem might be resolved.
Make sure you understand the rates and structure that your lawyer charges. Some lawyers charge based on time (hourly, daily, etc), on task (drafting vs. faxing a document), or both. Others operate on a flat-fee, retainer, or contingency model. Consider your circumstances and learn what you can expect for your money. For more on payment arrangements, see the FTC's Facts for Consumers Guide.
You can probably find an office that will do everything from start to finish, but that work does not come for free. You may be charged extra for copying documents, courier services, court filing fees, or research services. Understand what you will be charged for, and for how much.
Be realistic about what you can afford, and be diligent about taking on some of the paperwork or research yourself if need be. As with most services, experience and cost often go hand in hand. Look for the best balance of experience and cost that meets your needs.
You and your attorney should be on the same page on how and when you will communicate. You should be comfortable with your lawyer's approach to your case.
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