How to Find a Small Business Lawyer

Preventative medicine is always best. Small businesses will inevitably require legal support at some point and early engagement with an attorney will allow you to stay ahead of changes to the law and avoid potential problems down the line.

Referrals from colleagues are often the best way to locate a small business lawyer. Many attorneys offer complimentary half-hour or one-hour consultations to assess if they are suitable.

1. Ask for Referrals

For small business lawyers, one of the best ways to find one is through asking other local business owners for recommendations. This gives you an insider perspective as you hear whether this particular attorney fits with your legal issues as well as hearing how they have managed similar legal situations in the past.

Ask other small business attorneys who specialize in related areas for referrals. For instance, if your business needs help with contract disputes, criminal lawyers could possibly recommend an experienced civil litigation lawyer.

Also be sure to read reviews online; but be wary of sites that only provide one-sided opinions of lawyers without providing context from clients. In addition, check their licensing and bar association membership as well as certifications they hold which could give additional assurances that they’re qualified enough for you needs.

2. Do Your Research

Though you may not require the services of a business lawyer right away, it would be prudent to research several in your area anyway so if problems do arise and if necessary hire one later on it’s easier. That way when the time comes you already have someone in mind.

Your specific business needs dictate whether you require a specialist or generalist lawyer. In either instance, when selecting an attorney be sure to inquire as to their experience within their chosen field and how they have managed similar cases in the past.

Small business lawyers provide invaluable assistance with many issues, from creating founder agreements and reviewing contracts to handling employment-related lawsuits such as workplace discrimination cases. It is best to find these professionals before needing them; just like finding accountants or insurers.

3. Schedule an In-Person Consultation

Most small business lawyers provide complimentary half-hour or one-hour consultations for potential clients, according to the Contra Costa County Bar Association. Before scheduling an appointment, be sure to create a list of questions for the meeting in order to have more productive discussions and help your attorney better understand your unique situation.

Bring any relevant documents relating to your business with you for discussion at this meeting, such as contracts or leases that pertain directly to it. Also consider what sort of legal advice is needed on topics like trademark or copyright disputes, regulatory compliance concerns or intellectual property concerns.

Be sure to ask the lawyer how long they’ve been practicing law in the area you need assistance in, keeping in mind that price should never be your primary consideration – inexperienced lawyers often cost more over time. Furthermore, some specialists specialize in specific practice areas while generalists may provide help for any number of legal needs.

4. Ask About Fees

When seeking out a small business lawyer through referral or online search, be sure to inquire about fees. Most attorneys are accommodating and willing to work out an arrangement that fits within your budget.

Some lawyers offer flat fees for certain tasks, like incorporation or contract drafting. Others employ a retainer system wherein payments are made in advance with withdrawals as necessary; finally some lawyers charge on a commission basis.

As Venture Beat points out, when comparing fees it is essential to take account of both experience and industry knowledge when making your choice. A Silicon Valley startup differs dramatically from a local restaurant, so lawyers with experience in one industry may not understand laws specific to another industry.

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