If you run a business the chances of you being sued by a supplier, disgruntled employee, customer, or even a competitor are quite high.
According to a survey done by the Small Business Administration over 36% of small businesses are sued each year and at least 43% are threatened with a lawsuit.
The most common lawsuit filed against businesses is a breach of contract, whereby one party, for example, a supplier, claims a business didn’t honor a contract agreement.
Lawsuits are expensive and can cripple your business, so you want to avoid them at all costs.
The best way to do that is by finding yourself a good business attorney who will help you draft watertight contracts that protect you from possible lawsuits and also offer sound advice on legal matters about your business.
In this post, I’ll share with you tips to help you find a small business attorney who will work to ensure your business avoids legal trouble.
How to Find a Small Business Lawyer
As an entrepreneur, the best time to get an attorney is before you encounter any legal challenges. This could be at the start of your business or immediately your business begins to grow.
You can find yourself an experienced small business lawyer by doing the following:
Ask for Business Attorney Referrals
One of the easiest ways to find a good business lawyer is through your network, which could include other business owners, professionals working with your business, for example, accounts, friends, etc.
One of these people has likely hired a business attorney, so don’t hesitate to ask them for a referral.
Other avenues you could use to widen your search for a potential business attorney are:
- Google, where you can find information about any service these days. To get the best search results, enter the term “business attorney” and your city to find lawyers in your area.
- Your state bar association website. This organization will have a list of attorneys and law firms in your location and the areas they specialize in.
- Legal help sites. There are many websites offering legal information that can pair you with a business attorney who suits your budget. To find such sites, type “business attorney referral” into Google.
- Ask another attorney. In the past, you may have dealt with a lawyer who specializes in a different type of law, for example, real estate. This attorney may not be a good fit for your business, but they likely know a good business attorney they can recommend.
Research Your Referrals
Using the above methods you should be able to get several business attorneys you can consider working with.
The next step would be to research these referrals. You can do this by visiting their websites, most professional attorneys have a website, and doing online research on them.
Some of the information you’ll be looking to find out includes:
- Where they attended law school and when they graduated.
- Their areas of expertise. Here you want to ensure they have handled businesses such as yours.
- The size of their law firm. A large law firm will charge you more but they can be able to handle all your legal needs because they have specialists in different fields, for example, intellectual property, employment disputes, and business tax. A small law firm, however, may offer you more personalized services.
- What their clients say about them. Some attorneys include client testimonials on their website and you could also check their reviews on sites such as Avvo, Yelp, and Google+.
- If there have been any complaints against them. If an attorney has a record of serious violations you want to avoid them.
From the information you gather from the research, choose at least two business attorney’s who you think can offer you the best legal advice and schedule a consultation.
Interview the Attorneys
Most attorneys don’t charge for the initial consultation which can last between 30 minutes to an hour.
This consultation, which can be done on phone, at the attorney’s office, or over dinner or lunch, should help you get to know more about the attorney you’re considering hiring.
Questions you can ask the attorney at the meeting include:
- How many years have they been practicing law? The more experience they have the better placed they’re to handle your business’s legal matters.
- How familiar are they with the industry your business operates? You want a lawyer who is well conversant with your products and services and legal matters in your industry. Having this knowledge enables them to more ably represent you.
- How well do they communicate with their clients? You should hire an attorney who doesn’t get tired of breaking down complex business laws to you and what they’re doing to ensure your business complies with all laws required. You also want an attorney who promptly responds to your emails and calls.
- How much do they charge? Most attorneys charge on an hourly basis but your potential attorney could charge a fixed amount or use a hybrid method to bill you. Whichever billing method they present to you, ensure you’re comfortable with it to avoid bill problems later if you hire them.
- Can they share contacts of a few businesses they have represented? A good attorney wouldn’t have a problem doing this. If they give you the contacts, get in touch with businesses after the consultation to find out the experience they had working with the attorney.
If you’re looking for a good lawyer because you’re facing a potential lawsuit, be sure to carry relevant documents to the initial consultation so you can have a chat with the lawyer on how they would handle the matter.
Hire the Best Attorney
Once you meet all the candidates you’re considering, reflect on your consultations and select the one you feel could best legally represent your business.
You must be comfortable working with the person you choose because you’ll interact a lot and if you don’t get along this could negatively affect your business.
Once you decide on a business attorney contact them and they’ll tell you how they onboard new clients.
Often they’ll prepare an engagement letter that outlines the terms and conditions of your business relationship, which you both must sign after carefully reviewing it.
Why is it Important to Have a Good Business Attorney?
Some of the things the right small business attorney can help you do include:
- Deciding a business entity. There are several types of business entities including sole proprietorship, limited partnerships, and S corporations. If you’re unsure which business entity to open an attorney can explain to you the pros and cons of each and advise on which best suits you.
- Drafting founder agreements. If you have two or more partners a business attorney can help you draft partnership agreements and corporate bylaws that will clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of each partner and ensure your business is well organized and runs smoothly.
- Drafting contracts. Your business will most likely build relationships with suppliers, clients, contractors, etc. A small business attorney can negotiate favorable contracts for you with these partners and also ensure the contracts don’t leave you exposed to lawsuits.
- Compliance with labor laws. A business attorney can guide you on how to ensure all your employees are treated fairly and that your workspace is healthy and safe. In the event, an employee sues you, for example, for wrongful termination an attorney can help resolve the lawsuit in a timely and cost-effective manner and avoid a court process.
- An attorney can also help you draft term sheets if you plan to raise funding for your business, obtain intellectual property protection, comply with zoning laws, and so much more.
Gallagher Krich, APC: Experienced San Diego California Business Attorneys
If you’re looking for an experienced attorney to help you with legal business processes such as entity formation, trademark protection, zoning compliance, profit sharing, contract negotiation, and much more get in touch with Gallagher Krich, APC today at (858) 926-5797 or book an appointment online.
Our business attorneys have over 30 years combined experience in business law, which you can tap into to ensure your business doesn’t encounter any costly legal issues.
The initial consultation is free, so get in touch now before you make any other business decisions that have legal implications on your company.