Where should business owners look for a business attorney?
First off, ask for referrals. You can also ask other business owner friends who they’ve worked with. If you have a friend who is an attorney, but does not do business work, he might be able to refer you to a business attorney. Also, look online. Most attorneys who work with small business owners have an online presence, and that can help answer some of the interview-type questions.
What questions should business owners ask when interviewing an attorney?
The most important question is understanding how much non-business work the attorney performs. The legal field is becoming highly specialized, so it is recommended that someone in need of a business attorney would hire one who only does that kind of work. If an attorney is practicing in multiple areas (for instance, business law, family law, and criminal law), there’s no way they know all the ins and outs of each area. Find someone who exclusively practices business law. If they have listed multiple practice areas on their website, then you may not want to work with them.
A few other questions to ask:
- Is the attorney (or firm) prepared to answer tax advice.
- What are their rates? Do they offer flat rates for any services?
- What are common legal problems faced by business owners?
Should business owners expect to talk to the attorney free of charge for interview-type questions?
Honestly, no, but it also depends on the issue. We receive lots of phone calls and emails from people who are looking for advice on setting up their business, but may not necessarily need full-service legal representation. A business attorney could work 40 hours per week providing this type of advice and not earn any fees whatsoever. A law firm obviously can’t run like that.
But, if a client calls us to interview an attorney, without asking to receive any legal advice, we may be willing to waive the consultation fee.
More: How to find and interview a good lawyer.