Just like you conduct thorough research before contracting vendors and business partners, the same rules should apply when choosing the right person to represent your company’s legal interests. Fortunately, the pool of legal talents is deep and promising. But precisely because you have so many options to choose from, it makes it even harder to decide on the right one.
When choosing a lawyer, you need to take into consideration various aspects, such as their expertise in the field your business activates, their reliability and trustworthiness, as well as how well they are referred by past or current clients. Below is a list of aspects to focus on, before hiring a new lawyer for your company.
The first thing you should take into consideration is the size of the firm your lawyer is part of. Both small firms and big ones have advantages and disadvantages, so weigh them carefully before making a decision.
On one hand, lawyers from small firms often have more time on their hands, which means you receive more attention for your issues, as they do have a smaller portfolio of clients. This will, most of the time, result in you establishing a much closer relationship with your lawyer. Small firms also focus more on retaining their clients and get more involved in the cases. As they are working towards growing their firm, they know how important it is to dedicate as much time as they can to their existing clients. Plus, if you stay with them from the beginning, chances are you will become one of their most important clients over time.
On the other hand, big firms do have more expertise and, although they have more clients, they can sometimes give you valuable advice based on years of practice. Because they are in the field for many years, big firms tend to be more respected and feared by opponents, in case you need to negotiate something.
Part of finding an attorney that best fist your needs is finding one whose services won’t burn a hole in your company’s pocket. Legal services can be expensive, but that depends on the needs of your business and how often you are going to use the lawyer’s services.
Before making a decision, present the attorney with the case, discuss your needs and ask for an estimate price, to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Chances are, they are not going to be able to tell you an exact price, but at least they can let you know what approximate costs you should be looking at.
Typically, attorneys work on an hourly rate, but there are some that work on fixed amounts as well. However, the preferred approach nowadays seems to be a combination of both, depending on the work you are asking for. If, for example, you need some type of filing they are used to, they know how much to charge from the start and they will ask for a fixed amount. On the other hands, if your requests are more peculiar and they may end up spending many hours working on a complex contract, they may charge hourly.
Reliability and Reputation
Finding an attorney that you can trust is extremely important, as you will be putting your company in their hands. An attorney with a bad reputation can affect the reputation of your company as well, and the last thing you want is to find yourself facing other legal issues, while trying to solve some basic ones.
When having your first discussion, pay attention to what they say and ask yourself if they are treating you with consideration, or they are simply trying to get your money. While it is common for lawyers to keep an optimistic tone when talking to their clients, if they sound too optimistic and don’t present you with the potential risks in regards to your case, this can be a massive red flag.
Another way to see if your lawyer is as reputable as they say they are is to do a free background check on them. This way, you can find more information that would, otherwise, require huge amounts of time to gather and make your decision faster.
When talking with your attorney, ask for referrals from their past or current clients. They should be able to provide you with enough information about cases they have worked, that are similar to yours. This way, you can see if they are on the level they claim to be.
At the same time, go to your friends or business partners for recommendations as well. There is no better marketing than word of mouth and, if they are pleased with a lawyer they have worked with, you already have some sort of a guarantee. Ask about their issues and how the lawyer managed to handle the situation, as well as if they have encountered any problems throughout the case.
If you have connections in your field of industry, chances are can connect you with a good lawyer that has expertise in the field and can provide much better service.
Expertise is just as important as trustworthiness, when it comes to finding the right lawyer. Look for someone who has won at least one case that is similar to yours and knows how to handle the situation. Try to keep away from general practitioners, as even though they are good for basic situations, they may not have in-depth knowledge about more complex matters. In a difficult case, this can really lower your chances of winning.
If you can’t find someone with enough experience, at least try to find someone who is willing to learn and gives their best to gain as much knowledge as they can. Sometimes, an attorney that has less experience, but goes out of their way to gather documentation and do research has a much bigger chance of winning, as they can give a fresh and new perspective to the case.