7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Attorney for Your Small Business
Hiring an attorney for your small business can be scary, but often necessary. They might be handling some of your company’s most sensitive information so you need to be sure it’s someone you are comfortable with and who you trust.
Here are the top 5 questions you should ask before hiring an attorney for your small business.
1. Who will be handling my work?
There is really no point in building up a trusting relationship with one attorney, only to have them delegate all of your work to others. It also means that every request you make will be relayed through other people and could lead to serious breakdowns in communication. Find out how much of your work is going to be delegated to others – and be clear on who is managing what.
2. What experience do you have in my industry?
Different types of businesses can have completely differing legal requirements. Areas like service level agreements, intellectual property, franchise agreements, and property laws require specific legal knowledge and skills.
Does your potential attorney have experience in the areas relevant to your business? Have they worked in a business similar to yours? Find out if you can speak to previous clients to confirm their expertise in your field.
3. What is your billing structure?
No one likes a nasty surprise when they get a bill for services that they weren’t expecting. Find out how your attorney charges before you start – many will charge in 10 minute increments, but some might not bill for less than half an hour or even an hour. Also, find out if there are any additional costs that you should expect that don’t fall within their basic service.
4. Are there ways to reduce the costs of your services?
There are often ways to cut down in legal costs by doing some of the preparatory work yourself, for example gathering documents or writing summaries. Find out from your attorney if there are any corners that can be cut – and be wary if they are not willing to explore these options.
5. What is your response and turnaround time?
Are you going to need your attorney in a hurry? Do you need documents done right now? If you are going to need a quick turnaround and response time from your attorney, you should make a point of finding out how long they will take to come back to you and what their processes are. If your work goes through many hands, turnaround time may be longer than you expected.
6. How do you usually conduct your communications?
Getting answers to your questions is pretty important in legal matters, so you’ll want to find out how your attorney will communicate with you. Many will conduct their communications primarily through email and phone, while some won’t communicate much beyond scheduled meetings. Choose a style that works for you.
7. Do you consult with other attorneys?
Occasionally an issue might arise that is beyond your attorney’s area of expertise. In these situations, you’ll want to know that your attorney is willing to consult with, or refer you to, another attorney with more experience in the area.
It’s your turn!
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