Small Business Lawyer – What should You Look For?

Support local businesses

Are you looking for a lawyer to support your small business?  Many small business owners that I know have asked me how to do exactly that, find a competent small business lawyer that they can trust with their business.  Hiring a lawyer may be more like looking for a confident than you might believe at first blush.   When looking for the right small business lawyer for you, you should consider asking the following five questions:

IS THE LAWYER EXPERIENCED IN REPRESENTING SMALL BUSINESS?

Ask what kind of small businesses the lawyer has represented and the kinds of things they have done to help those small businesses.  Has the lawyer formed entities? Is the lawyer knowledgeable about the terms that contracts should contain?  What knowledge does the lawyer have about employment law and employment issues?  Is the lawyer experienced with registering trademarks?  Will the lawyer get to know your business and consider your business model when advising you?

HOW DOES THE SMALL BUSINESS LAWYER CHARGE FOR THEIR SERVICES?

Most lawyers charge by the hour, or by the minute, I say.  Although there are times when billing in such a fashion may make sense, like in litigation matters, only because litigation is so unpredictable, it probably does always make sense.  What may make the most sense for you in your small business is asking to be charged a flat fee.  Although flat fees are definitely not the norm, there are more and more lawyers charging flat fees.  Another option for your small business is a perpetual or monthly membership plan that allows you to have access to your lawyer when you just need a question or two answered.   Small businesses and start-ups or small businesses often opt for some combination of flat fees and monthly membership because these options allow your business to budget for their legal expenses.

HOW DOES YOUR SMALL BUSINESS LAWYER WORK WITH THEIR CLIENTS?

When hiring a lawyer for your small business, you are looking for a trusted advisor, someone you will look to as a part of your team. Ask the small business lawyer how they work with their clients. What really want to find out if the lawyer is enthusiastic – are they excited when talking about your business and wanting to work with you in your business as an advisor or are they just an order taker who will act with blinders on, do exactly what you have asked for and nothing else? You should hire a lawyer who LOVES helping small businesses succeed and gets excited when talking about your small business.

HOW DOES THE LAWYER COMMUNICATE WITH THEIR CLIENTS?

This is really a question of convenience for you. Some lawyers love email and some lawyers don’t do email at all (yes, really!). Some lawyers prefer to talk with you on the phone and some prefer to meet in person. The form of communication really does not matter, but what does matter is that you will be able to communicate with your small business lawyer when you need them and the means of communication is comfortable for you.

DOES THE SMALL BUSINESS LAWYER HAVE TIME FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS?

This question is very important. Why?  Because you may have the best lawyer, but if they are too busy when you need them, it’s not going to do you one bit of good. You will want to have some assurances that your small business lawyer has the bandwidth to handle your small business and the potential issues that you are looking to them for help.  This is hard to assess, but know your gut reaction is usually a good one here.

You will probably come up with more questions to ask when you are looking to hire a small business lawyer, but the above five questions are a good start.  What do you think?