Every business needs an accountant and a lawyer early on. An accountant will help you set up your accounts, review your numbers, and also prepare all your necessary federal, state and local taxes. Whereas an attorney will provide vital assistance in almost every aspect of your business from basic zoning compliance, copyright and trademark advice to formal business incorporation, liability and lawsuits. Here are some things to consider when looking to hire a lawyer.
Some lawyers are tired of dealing with business and may attempt to second-guess your business judgment. Just be wary of a lawyer who takes too keen an interest in the non-legal aspects of your work. The right lawyer will not respond with simple answers, but will instead, give a detailed outline of all your available options and tell you what others in your situation normally do. They give you a broader perspective.
You will need to visit your attorney frequently, especially in your first few years in business. You should not have to waste time traveling every time you need legal advice. Try choosing a lawyer close to home.
Follow your gut feeling. If you feel that you can’t trust a particular person or you just have completely different perspectives, keep searching. Just remember good looks and a dynamic personality are not as important in a lawyer with accuracy, thoroughness, intelligence, willingness and attention to detail.
Don’t be afraid to be upfront when asking a lawyer about their experiences. Make sure that they have the experiences that are relevant to your company and how you want to progress.
Your attorney should be like your legal intern. A good one can diagnose your problem, perform any task that may be needed and refer you to local specialists to help you out. No lawyer can possibly know everything about every area of law, which is why if a specialist is needed, your attorney should be able to hook you up with one.
Your attorney should be somewhat familiar with your industry and its legal environment. If not, they should at least be willing to learn about it. Check out their bookshelves or magazine rack for copies of the same journals and professional literature that you read. Be wary, however, of attorneys who represent one or more of your competitors. While the legal code of ethics requires that your lawyer keep everything you tell him or her strictly confidential, you do not want to risk an accidental leak of sensitive information to a competitor.
A good attorney should be willing to take the time to educate you and your staff about the legal environment of your business. They should be able to tell you what the law says and explain how it affects the way you do business so that you can spot any potential problems in advance. The right lawyer will distribute such freebies as newsletters or memoranda that describe recent developments in the law affecting your business.
Minder or Grinder
Every law firm has three types of lawyers: the finder, who scouts for business to bring in new clients, and the minder, the one who takes on new clients and makes sure everyone is happy. Try to find an attorney who is a good mix of both.