Is this Legal? 4 Important Qualities to Consider When Deciding on the Right Attorney for Your Business

Image by: Jay Inslee
By: Ken Lucas

“Almost every business, whatever its size, requires a lawyer’s advice,” a man named James Blythe said, Hodge of the law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. “Even the smallest business has tax concerns that need to be addressed as early as the planning stages.” Smart words indeed, as a good lawyer is the cornerstone of every successful business.

In case your wondering why it is necessary to hire a person who demands hundreds of dollars an hour, its because business lawyers are professionals who have experience with and knowledge of the myriad of issues surrounding the starting and upkeep of a business–big or small.

Lawyers are advocates who have an extensive knowledge of a wide range of issues like copyright, trademarks, tax and employment laws and many other specialized areas of focus that are particular to their niche. And while it certainly isn’t necessary to hold your attorneys hand through every step of your business, as the old saying goals–better safe than sorry.

So before you take your first major risk, do yourself a favor and consult an attorney to ensure that what you’re doing won’t cost you a fortune in legal fees. But before you start dialing up those firms, you may want to overlook a few guidelines as to what you are searching for in your future attorney.

#1) Confidence

You may not think the way a person walks, talks, stands, or listens is a deal-breaker when deciding what lawyer to choose, but these traits are extremely important when determining the confidence of a specific person. An attorneys job to reassure the client that whatever legal matters that are being faced are able to be overcome.

Would you be convinced by an attorney with a passive voice, slouched posture, and short attention span? I think not. You most likely would want somebody with a massive level of personal and professional confidence. Only a person who is absolutely sure of him or herself will be able to handle the thousands of decisions, assessments about risk, timing, pace, advantage, leverage and value.

While it is important for a lawyer (or anybody in the professional field) to possess this crucial trait, it is also important to be able to distinguish false certainty or hubris with a genuine feeling of absolute certainty. A lawyers job is to be convincing, and he or she can’t even convince you to hire them, then what makes you think they can convince a judge that you didn’t steal trademarked works from another business?

#2) Rapport

There are several entrepreneurs that entertain the idea that starting their relationship with a lawyer is akin to starting a marriage. This in fact is a fair assessment, because like any marriage it takes time to develop and establish the trust between you and your attorney. You may be thinking well how is this relevant to me winning cases? Well, even the greatest lawyer in the world can be a complete asshole and still win you a case, yes. But keep in mind that your attorney is someone that you need to hold meetings, conferences, and phone conversations with.

And if you dread the person who is so intimately familiar with your situation, then it will only stress you out–which will mean negative results for your business.

An attorney needs to be able to emphasize with you, not only for your own personal comfort, but for the sake of your business goals. He needs to understand where you want to be tomorrow and be able to share your vision for the future. Good chemistry and understanding between you and your lawyer will ensure a better relationship and more positive results for your business.

#3) Experience

Although it may not be an absolute necessity to find someone who is a seasoned expert in your particular field, it makes sense to hire an attorney who has extensive knowledge and experience in handling the small business problems you will face while going forward. Their credibility can be easily verified by a list of clients or other attorneys you can contact to discuss competence, service and fees. In other words, don’t be afraid to ask for whatever references they may have.

This will not only provide you with insight about how they’ve performed in past cases, but will also indicate whether they are easy to work with, efficient and above all dependable.

#4) Fees

You may think it would be a smart decision to by the cheapest attorney on the market–at say $30 bucks an hour, but while this may be convenient for your pocket, perhaps not so much for your business. While dealing with small legal business matters it may not be necessary to hire Robert Kardashian, but keep in mind that the inexperienced attorneys that work for the lowest fees may not indicate the most efficient legal work and may take twice as long to complete a certain project as an experienced one will.

Attorneys typically charge anywhere from $50 to $1,500 or more per hour, depending on the size, location and prestige of the firm and of course the reputation of the lawyer. You’re best bet would be to keep your options open and shop around a variety of different firms before making a decision.

I know, the ridiculous high hourly rates lawyers demand may have caused you to involuntarily shudder, but the good news is there are several methods to keep the costs tamed. You can start by learning about the different way’s attorneys bill their time. While some suggest a flat fee for particular routine tasks like solidifying a lone or reviewing a contract, most bill by the hour. It would be your job to determine which of these types will better suit your business endeavors, and appropriately classify which route will be the easiest on your pocket and the most beneficial to your business.

Just starting out your small business and Indecisive as to which attorney to hire? Don’t worry, where here to help you out! Share your story below and let others help guide you toward the right direction!