Having a lawyer to consult on an ongoing basis helps businesses avoid and mitigate the consequences of crises. Lawyers can save businesses significant amounts of time and money as advisors, rather than de facto emergency workers.
The financial stakes are high for many legal issues small businesses encounter on a regular basis. Failing to sign a (well-written and tailored) contract with a vendor, partner or employee can leave you mired in misunderstandings, and even litigation, when things don’t go exactly as planned or derail in ways you never could have imagined. A registered trademark for your brand can be a lifesaver, literally, if a competitive business attempts to use a similar logo or name. With so much at risk, hiring a lawyer seems like an obvious decision.
Yet studies consistently demonstrate that consumers and business owners still don’t consult lawyers when they need them.
What to Look for in Your Startup Lawyer
At Priori, we administer a stringent application process before we admit lawyers to our network — so we think a lot about what makes a good lawyer. Here are some practical tips that you can utilize to find the right startup lawyer for your business.
Find Someone With the Right Experience
It’s important to find a lawyer who understands you, your business and your issue:
- Find a lawyer who has experience with your industry. A lawyer with experience in your area will most likely be able to work on your legal issue more efficiently and effectively, which saves you time and money. Additionally, an experienced attorney in your industry, can become a valuable resource to continually refer back to when other issues arise and someone who can suggest or connect you with other business opportunities.
- Find a lawyer who has prior experience with your type of legal issue. Not all lawyers have had experience in all of the areas in which your company might need legal assistance. For example, a startup attorney may be equipped to draft and review contracts with vendors, but might not be as experienced with your real estate lease.
When you’re hiring someone for your company, you would ask for references to get a third-party opinion and build a foundation of credibility for your candidates. Why not employ this same practice here? We ask for both a peer reference and client reference, but ask for the references you think will best inform your decision.
Compare and Ask Questions
Interview multiple lawyers to get a sense of how they would handle your project, and whether you have a connection with them. A lawyer can become a trusted business advisor, so be sure to choose someone you actually like working with!
Ask About Pricing
As startups go, bootstrapped or not, spending can be a major concern. While Priori pre-negotiates discounted flat fee packages and hourly rates with our attorneys, tackling this on your own may seem daunting. After you’ve provided your lawyer with some information about your legal needs, start talking about pricing and ask if they are open to doing an alternative fee — whether fixed, deferred, capped or some combo!
Using a lawyer you trust regularly can help your business thrive. What are you waiting for?
A version of this article and the infographic originally appeared on the author’s blog.