I know what most people think about attorneys. My father is a retired police officer, so trust me I have heard all the jokes. But guess what? They’re wrong when it comes to hiring and working with an attorney to help protect and grow your business. We aren’t all scum, and we aren’t all out to just make a buck. I hope as a business owner you view hiring an attorney as a huge step in the right direction. An indication of how successful you are becoming and how far you are going to go.
So once you have made that decision to begin working with an attorney there are a few things I want you to keep in mind! Although this list is not exhaustive, and it won’t necessarily provide you with names or contact information for a great attorney for you and your business, it will help you find that person. By asking yourself the below questions you will be better suited to find the perfect attorney fit for you.
What do I want to get out of the relationship?
First and foremost, you need to know what it is YOU expect from an attorney-client relationship. Do you want someone that gives you unfettered access to them? Or are you ok with email communications once a month only? You want to get very clear on what it is you need from your attorney, so that when you meet with different ones you know what to ask. And it’s important to note that some attorneys handle all of their clients the same way. I on the other hand deal with clients differently, based on their needs. Some clients hire me to file a trademark application and that is it. Others call or text me when they have a quick business question they need answered, and if they need a contract drafted or reviewed they know where to turn. Knowing exactly what you need (maybe not from a legal standpoint) will help you find the right fit.
Personality types matter, so what do you like?
In your business, you most likely surround yourself with people that think like you, or at least are as passionate and motivated as you are to accomplish your goals. I personally love to work with clients that are friendly, don’t take things too seriously, but are still so insanely passionate about what they are creating it is contagious. But maybe you don’t need that. Maybe you like very serious get it done type of person and you’re not interested in having a little fun along the way. That’s fine. You just need to know what type of people you like to work with! Because when choosing an attorney, you are going to work closely with them for certain things as your business grows, so your personalities need to jive. When looking for your attorney be sure to ask them who they typically like to work with, and try to feel them out a bit personality wise. It may seem a little silly to you, but it matters. Trust me.
What is their experience working with clients in your industry?
This one is a big one. When you hire an attorney, you want someone that understands your business and the industry you are in. It doesn’t do you any good to hire someone with 30 years of experience but has no clue what online business is if you’re a blogger. Although there are many highly qualified and skilled attorney’s out there it is always going to be best to find someone that has experience in your particular business or profession. I probably wouldn’t hire a personal injury attorney to file my trademark application or advise me on a terms of sale for my e-course.
Don’t be afraid to ask each attorney you meet with what their experience in your industry is. You can ask specific questions about your business and it’s needs to see if this attorney is the right fit. If they work with clients similar to you and can answer your questions then you will likely feel more comfortable hiring them. Not all small business attorneys are going to know your niche, so don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions about their experience!
What is the budget?
Last but certainly not least, you will need to identify exactly what your budget for legal is. You should try and be flexible but still give yourself a good idea of what the absolute most you can spend on legal in a month or year is. And also think about how you want to structure the use of this budget. Attorneys structure their billing in multiple ways some still bill by the hour while others bill flat fee or even have monthly subscription plans that give you quite a bang for your buck (I offer that so email me if you’re interested!). Maybe you only need an attorney on a project by project basis and you don’t need a monthly agreement or in-house type services. Whatever the case may be, know what your budget is and find an attorney that fits in that budget, and can provide you the best work possible. Don’t be afraid to discuss your budget with the attorney, it is better to be upfront about fees and costs than wait until it’s too late. And a little tip before going into these meetings, try and see if you can determine what the industry standard is for legal services in your industry. You don’t want to set an unrealistic budget for yourself or the attorney.
And with that, I say go forth and find the right attorney for your business! You should be excited, not scared, and proud of yourself knowing that you are ready to take this next step in your business. Think of your attorney as a team member and I promise you can’t go wrong.
As always, if you’re interested in working with me send me an email to Shannon@montgomerypllc.com and let’s chat about how I might be able to help you and your business!
Please note that this is not meant to be legal advice for you or your situation, this is merely some legal research and knowledge on the given topic.