Small business owners face many potential legal problems that could devastate their business financially. Small business owners benefit from working with an attorney from employee issues involving hiring and pay to drafting and negotiating business contracts. However, most small businesses do not have the financial resources to keep an attorney on retainer. If you are a business owner, it is important that you take the time to choose a small business attorney wisely. We will discuss some of the most important tips for choosing a small business attorney below.

1. Consider Why You Need a Small Business Law Firm

It can be tempting to wait to find an attorney until a legal issue has already happened. However, the best time to begin hiring a business attorney is before needing an attorney. Whether you are a start-up business or have owned your business for a while, here are some of the situations that should lead you to consider retaining a small business attorney:

  • Forming a business: your choice of legal business entity can impact your ability to grow your company and meet your goals in the future. Suppose you eventually want to raise venture capital. In that case, a C-corporation is the best choice. Your small business attorney can help you walk through the benefits and negatives of different business entities and which will work best for your company.
  • Drafting founder agreements: If your business has partners, you will need to outline each partner’s rights and responsibilities in the beginning to avoid disagreements and ongoing issues in the future. An attorney can help you draft corporate bylaws and partnership agreements.
  • Contract review: Running a business requires multiple different contracts. Whether it is an employment contract or a contract with a client, an attorney can help you negotiate favorable terms and ensure your contract meets the standards outlined in your state.
  • IP Protection: An attorney can help you obtain a patent or trademark to protect and enforce your intellectual property.

2. Ask For a Recommendation From a Trusted Friend or Family Member

If you have a friend or family member whose recommendation you trust, ask them for recommendations for an excellent legal advisor for your business. Your coworkers may also be a good source of referrals or help you find a decent lead. Ask them specific questions to better help you understand if the small business attorney may be a good option for you.

3. Research Online

After you have a few candidates in mind, do some research online. Check out their websites and see if they keep them up-to-date. You may want to check and see if they have received any awards or distinctions. Try to determine whether they have handled the types of legal issues for which you need representation. If you see any red flags on their website or Google reviews, you may want to cross them off your list or ask them about the issue when meeting with them.

4. Write Down a List of Questions to Ask Your Small Business Law Firm

Next, write down a list of questions you would like to ask your potential small business attorneys. It can be easy to forget questions you have while in the moment. Writing down your questions ahead of time will help you remember them accurately. Here are a few questions you should consider asking potential small business lawyer candidates:

  • Have you worked with a company in the same line of business as our business?
  • Will I receive a dedicated attorney for my business?
  • What type of communication do you use?
  • How quickly do you usually respond to clients?
  • Do you have a track record of success in cases like mine?
  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • Have you ever been disciplined by your state board?
  • Do you have any conflicts of interest with my business?
  • Will anyone else be working with you on my business’s issues?
  • What is your availability to take phone calls and respond to calls?
  • Do you prefer in-person meetings, or are you open to Zoom calls and text messages?

5. Learn More About the Fee Structure 

Learning more about the attorney’s fee structure is one of the most important questions you can ask a potential attorney. As a business owner or executive with fees and budgets, the fee structure should be one of your top concerns when looking for a business attorney. If the attorney uses a traditional hourly billing system, ask for their hourly rate for attorneys, paralegals, and law clerks. Hourly billing rates typically range from $150 per hour for a junior attorney to over $1,000 per hour for a top-rated attorney in a big-city law firm. Get all of the details of the fee agreement in writing so there will not be any surprises down the road. Ask the attorney if they are willing to provide you with periodic detailed updates on how your fees are being spent.

6. Consider a Subscription-Based Monthly Fee

For many businesses, the traditional hourly-rate structure is a financial hardship. Many small businesses benefit from preventative consultations with an attorney. You should consider a subscription-based legal service. In exchange for an affordable monthly fee, you can have access to an attorney who can help you with your day-to-day legal needs as a business owner or executive.

InPrime Legal acts as outsourced general counsel for small to mid-sized business owners looking to build resilience to legal liability, protect their profits and navigate risks safely and affordably. We represent small to mid-sized companies and have replaced the “bill-you-for-every-minute” mentality by offering a predictable flat monthly fee, allowing us to be proactive rather than reactive.

We put businesses first and will take the time to understand your unique businesses and needs, identifying and eliminating legal threats. We guarantee that you will have a return on your investment. If you are interested in learning more about subscription-based legal services, contact InPrime Legal today to schedule your free initial consultation.