Many entrepreneurs think that they don't need a lawyer for their small business, or are afraid to hire one with the assumption of enormous legal fees. Both of these have been proved to be deadly for startups. As much as entrepreneurs want to believe they can do everything by themselves, they can't. Laws are complicated, there's a lot of them, and paperwork is tedious. A lawyer can help you understand the options you have and make the best decisions when it comes to beginning your startup. Lawyers are trained to identify potential problems before they happen to avoid future headaches. Here's some tips on finding the right lawyer for your business.
1. Personal Attributes: You'll be spending a lot of time with your lawyer, so you'll want someone who you can relate to. Your lawyer should connect to your business and understand your needs. They should communicate clearly so you can understand the complex rules involved in a business and help you determine how to proceed in situations.
2. Don’t use your friends: Sure, your buddy Tim has known you since high school and you both connect really well, but you'll need someone to contradict you at times. When starting a business, there's a lot of tough decisions that you need to make, this could strain relationships or make you loose business insights.
3. Ask around: Start asking your friends and acquaintances for referrals. Gather a few names, set up some appointments and interview lawyers who have good reviews from people you trust. When you're interviewing, ask about their experience, get to know them, and how they could help you specifically.
4. Use online resources: The interwebs are now the number one go to place to do research. Websites such as LegalMatch, Avvo, and LinkedIn provide plentiful details regarding lawyers and their professional experience. Look for those who specialize in your industry, and attorneys can personally respond to your request. This process helps eliminate the lawyers and firms that don't have the experience you need.
5. Choose a firm that suits your needs: Small firms? Big Firms? How do you choose? Obviously both have their pros and cons. Sole practitioners will work with you one on one and will typically take smaller cases. When working with smaller firms, you'll find a more personalized experience and a wide variety of expertise and coverage.
Making smart choices for your startup comes down to being proactive. If you wait until it's too late to consult a lawyer, you've put yourself and your startup at a huge risk.
Starting your own business always involves risk, but there’s no reason legal issues should be included in the list of potential hazards.