When you’re running your own business, you have to be comfortable with making snap decisions. Sometimes, being agile and surviving in a crowded market means going with your gut for a timely choice instead of weighing your options.
But when it comes to hiring business lawyers, this approach could doom you to failure. Estimates indicate that there are over 1.3 million lawyers in the US, which means narrowing down your options can be enough to induce headaches.
However, considering a few simple factors can help you partner with the team that best suits your needs. Keep reading to learn where to start.
- Business Law Specialty
Just as the world of business is a wide and diverse arena, so is the world of business law. While it’s not a bad idea to have a lawyer who has experience with business law in a general sense, there are many options for lawyers wanting to specialize in certain areas.
As a result, you’ll want to find one who has chosen to practice law that pertains to the type of company you have. Alternatively, if you have an active case or are preparing for one, you may want to find a lawyer who can handle your needs. Finding an attorney with experience proving the elements of negligence, for example, can mean all the difference in a related case.
By finding a business lawyer familiar with your specific niche, you’ll have a partner with inside knowledge of industry-specific best practices and requirements when it comes to litigation.
- Firm Size
Bigger is better, or so we often think. But choosing the biggest law firm in your area isn’t necessarily the best choice, nor will these large firms always be the ones that can bring you the most success.
Larger firms may have more clients, which can sometimes cause your case to get lost in the shuffle. In some cases, they also may not have the time or desire to accommodate your needs, given their mammoth caseload.
Depending on your company’s needs, a small- to medium-sized firm may be able to provide you more one-on-one attention at a lower price point. And if these smaller firms specialize in your industry, as noted above, it gives them a leg up on some of the larger firms that have more generalized knowledge of your business area.
You should consider the firm’s size with a grain of salt, depending on how the firm in question fares with the other points on this list—but do remember to keep it in the back of your mind.
- Business Law Experience and Achievements
Before you dive too far into your search, it’s important to stop and consider the level of experience a firm has. To do this, you’ll want to do a little online sleuthing by searching for their portfolio. An experienced firm will have a long history of successful outcomes with their cases.
Beyond this, the best firms will also have achievements and accolades that transcend their success rate. For most offices, you’ll find this information proudly displayed on the website or social media profiles. You may also be able to find evidence of awards received by searching the name of the firm online.
- References and Reviews
A law firm may appear successful in theory, and it may have even won accolades in the past, but one telling sign that they’ll make a good partner for your business is their reviews and references.
To take a look at these, check out the law office’s website. (While you’re there, don’t forget to ensure that their site displays the professionalism and authority you’d expect of a successful firm.) Most law firms will display recent testimonials from happy clients, so skim through these to get an overall sense of what to expect from your partnership.
However, don’t stop there. Do your due diligence by looking into the firm’s track record on third-party websites as well. Check out reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp to start, but you should also look for industry-specific review sites like NOLO or Findlaw.com.
When reading testimonials, check for proof of the qualities you’d hope to find in an attorney, including timely communication, competence, compassion, and attention to detail. The more happy clients you find, the better your chances of becoming one.
While you’re searching, don’t forget to check the firm’s ranking on the Better Business Bureau. To be thorough, you can also check your state’s bar association and your local and state law directories.
If you have any lingering questions or doubts, ask the legal firm to provide a few references you can contact. Sometimes, speaking to past clients on the phone can help you make your decision, allowing you to ask follow-up questions about the attorney’s competence or professionalism before you take the leap.
- Pricing Structure
For most small businesses, comparing lawyer fees is a critical part of the hiring process. You’ll want to see what you can find out about your lawyer’s fees in advance, though you may need to resort to asking them questions about their pricing in the next step.
Some firms will charge a fixed amount, while others might charge an hourly rate. If you’re suing for damages, they may charge a portion of anything you receive after a successful settlement or trial.
Some firms will also charge additional fees for small services like photocopying or greater ones like securing an expert witness. Finding out about these fees in advance can give you a better understanding of whether this legal team will fit your budget.
- Personality and Support
While it’s certainly crucial to do your online research when making this decision, you should never skip an in-person meeting. Remember, just because a lawyer is a successful and capable advocate doesn’t mean they’re a good match for your preferences and personality.
Meet your prospective lawyer in their office to see if it’s a welcoming and well-organized space. Come prepared with a list of any questions that weren’t answered in your research.
- Have they handled a case similar to yours in the past?
- Do they practice in the courthouse where your case is?
- Do they have conflicts of interest regarding your case?
- Have they ever been accused of misconduct?
- What is their pricing structure, and are there additional fees?
- What strategy would they suggest?
- How do they handle communication?
Asking these questions can help you understand whether the lawyer is a good person to partner with, or whether it’s time to walk away and find someone else.
Take Care When Hiring Business Lawyers
Partnering with the right team can mean the difference between a successful business and legal fees and lawsuits that cripple your growth. When hiring business lawyers, take the time to consider these crucial factors before you make your decision. Finding the right partner to connect and grow with can give you great peace of mind as your business thrives!
Want more of the critical legal tips you need in business and beyond? Check out our other guides for more insights.