Finding a small business lawyer that is the right fit for your business is difficult. There are so many attorneys out there, and the options can be overwhelming. Choosing the right small business lawyer can make a huge difference in your small business.
But we have some good news for you! There are a number of services out there now that make finding a lawyer so much easier. In this guide, we will walk you through how to find the right small business attorney for your business. Nakase Wade California Business Lawyer & Corporate Lawyer has create a guide to help entrepreneurs choose the right small business lawyer.
What Type of Small Business Lawyer Do I Need?
You need to find the right attorney for your business, depending on your business size, industry, and what you need the most help with. For example, if your business sells products, you want an attorney that specializes in commercial law.
A business lawyer is more focused on business operations and will help with any legal issues that may arise from the formation or the general running of your business.
Certain business attorneys may also work with businesses of certain sizes. Some lawyers specialize in working with startups; others work with more mature companies. Some love working with mom and pop businesses, and others prefer to work with large companies. Finding a business attorney that is right for your business size and stage is important. Their pricing and strategies will be more suitable for your business.
When Do I Need a Small Business Lawyer?
It is best to hire an attorney before you need one. Preventative measures will save you a lot of time and money in the long run! However, there may be some cases when you need to hire an attorney with special skills to help your business with a one-off task.
For example, if your company has been served a lawsuit or you plan to file one, you will need a litigator to represent you in court. Some other scenarios when you need a specialist attorney include:
- Taxes – if you need legal advice related to taxes, then you will need to hire a commercial tax attorney.
- Intellectual Property – an intellectual property attorney or IP lawyer will be able to ensure your competitive advantages are secure through trademarks, patents, and copyrights.
- Real Estate – a commercial real estate attorney can help you with purchasing a commercial property for your business.
- Contracts – many business attorneys specialize in contracts, but contract attorneys can help navigate the jargon and legal terms to ensure your business interests are protected.
- Business organizations – When you form your business, you may want to hire an attorney that specializes in formation or organization if you are choosing a complex entity like an LLC or corporation.
- ADA Lawsuit – if your business is sued for ADA compliance violations, you will need an ADA lawyer to represent you.
- Civil Litigation – in the event you need to file action, your business will need a civil litigation attorney.
- Employers – many small business will need to hire employees. Therefore, having the right employment lawyer on retainer is advisable.
Businesses will often need legal help from many different areas of law, and one attorney cannot possibly know all the different kinds. Therefore, an important factor when choosing a lawyer is whether they have a strong network. You need your small business lawyer to recommend specialist colleagues when you need extra assistance. Alternatively, if you work with a large law firm, they often have departments that specialize in different areas of law.
How to Find a Lawyer
As with any initial search, asking Google is a good place to start. Search the type of lawyer you need, your city, and “free consultation” to find attorneys in your area.
A great way to find attorneys is to ask for referrals. That way, you get a recommendation you can trust and ask questions about the attorney. You can seek referrals through your network or online in forums like Reddit or LinkedIn. Your small business attorney can also refer specialist colleagues if you need a certain expertise.
There are a number of online directories which list lawyers by specialty, experience, location, and consumer ratings. The State Bar Association will provide a list of lawyers in your state, but that is still a very long list.
Legal Help Sites
There are a number of legal help sites which allow you to ask quick questions of attorneys for a low monthly fee. This is a great option for someone who just may need a little bit of advice from time to time. These websites also have options to pay additional fees for assistance with contracts or to be paired with an attorney for additional services.
Be wary on these website, as they will provide general forms rather than ones tailored to your unique needs. Some of the forms may also be out of date, not legally binding, or may be available elsewhere free. We only recommend legal help sites for straight forward issues rather than complex legal problems.
How to Tell If a Lawyer Is Qualified
We recommend interviewing the attorneys on your shortlist to see if their qualifications match up with your needs. Ask the following questions at least:
- What is your area of expertise? – You want to make sure they have worked with clients in your industry or like your business before.
- How many years of experience do you have? – Ask direct questions about how long they have been practicing and how long they have worked in a particular type of law. You pay for an attorney’s experience, so it is an important factor to take into consideration. The more experience an attorney has, the higher their fees.
- Do you have samples of your prior writing? – Ensure their writing and contracts are not littered with spelling errors.
- Do you have or foresee any conflicts of interests? – If your attorney is working for a competitor, vendor, or client, they will not be able to represent you both in the event of an incident.
- How do you communicate with your clients? – Ensure they are responsive and communicate using your preferred method.
- What is your fee structure? – This will have a great bearing on how much the legal representation will cost.
Fee Structures of Small Business Lawyers
Many small business attorneys will work using one or multiple of the following fee structures:
- Hourly – some work requires an hourly rate. The hourly rate will depend on the attorney’s experience. A Junior lawyer will be approximately $150 per hour. A senior partner of a large law firm might be $1,000 per hour.
- Flat rate – some legal services may be charged on a flat fee rate or a fixed cost rate. This means that no matter what happens, the agreed-upon service will cost you a set amount. An attorney will usually only use this structure for simple legal tasks that will not vary greatly in time.
- Contingent fees – many lawyers will work on a contingency fee for lawsuits or any service where winning will result in financial compensation or damages. They will only be paid once they win your case and will collect a percentage of your damages, usually 25-40%. If they do not win your case, then they will only charge out of pocket expenses, not their time.
- Retainer – many startups may find it helpful to hire attorneys on a retainer. This means that you prepay for a certain amount of the lawyers time per month, whether you use it or not. This allows business owners to ask questions as they come up.
- Business legal plan membership – you will pay a small monthly fee to have a dedicated lawyer who you can ask questions whenever you need. When you need additional help, you will pay a flat-rate cost for each service. These attorneys will usually work over email and phone to keep costs down, meaning it is a cheaper option than a retainer.
Questions I Should Ask Myself When Choosing a Small Business Lawyer
Along with interviewing the potential attorneys, you should also consider the following when making your decision about who to work with.
Did I like the attorney?
You will be working closely with this person during very stressful times; you need to ensure you like them and can see yourself working with them. Do not work with a lawyer who is rude or pressures you in any way. If you did not like them or they felt off, then do not work with them.
Are they responsive?
You shouldn’t expect them to be available every single time you call, but a lawyer should return your call promptly and not need to be chased. If you find yourself constantly talking to their assistant or their voice mail and having to chase them constantly, then you do not want to work with them.