Owners of small businesses and heads of large companies alike need to be aware of how legal complications can spring up suddenly and cause significant issues if mishandled. Each day you run your business, you might be unknowingly running the gauntlet of potential lawsuits, conflicts, and contract disagreements. Sometimes it is not a matter of if a legal complication occurs, but instead when.
If you and your business wind up in legal trouble, you should get a business lawyer or commercial litigation attorney on your side right away. With the guidance of your lawyer, you can confidently navigate the issue and minimize the negative impact it might have on your company. This raises a serious question, though: “How do you choose the right business lawyer?”
Start by Asking Why
Why do you need a business lawyer? Are you writing new employment contracts? Do you have to protect your intellectual property from a competitor’s infringement? Maybe you are actually founding a new business? The reason why you need an attorney is the first factor in determining whom should be your attorney. After all, you will want to work with someone who is familiar with your issue at hand, and not every business lawyer handles every business issue.
Start by Looking for Local Lawyers
Think of the business attorney who is going to help you with your commercial law case as a new employee, not a temporary legal guide. In fact, many larger companies and corporations keep business attorneys on-staff or on-call. As such, working with someone with a local or nearby office may be an advantage, as scheduling meetups as soon as possible after a problem arises will be easier. You can ask within your business circles for suggestions, or use an online directory to browse based on practice area and geographical location. That being said, with the availability of email, the internet, and other technologies, it may be possible – and in your best interests – to work with an attorney in another city.
Prepare Your Questions & Desired Answers
Once you have a lawyer who looks like they can help you with your case, write down a few key questions you would want to ask them during an initial consultation. Many law firms offer no-cost consultations, but do not plan to ask an abundance of questions — only the most important five or so because initial consultations are often limited in time. You should be sure to ask about their experience, approach to cases like yours, professional network or reputation, and to review their biographies on their webpage, if they have one.
Talk About Legal Fees
The services of an experienced business lawyer will not come for free, of course. If you like the attorney you interviewed, then you should inquire again about legal fee arrangements. Attorney Thomas Simeone of Simeone & Miller, LLP in Washington DC actually spoke to
Fundera in a recent article — which you can view in full by clicking here — about why contingency fees are often used by business attorneys
that take cases to litigation. With a contingency fee, as he explained, the client owes no upfront attorney fees and the lawyer only earns a legal fee if they win their client’s case. This arrangement adds further motivation for the attorney, as they will be paid more if they earn their
client a larger financial payout. However, such arrangements are risky for attorneys – because cases can often be lost through no fault of the attorney – so an attorney will only agree to work on such a basis if they believe you have a strong case.