With the Obama Administration now in place, the commercial landscape is changing for business owners. The fair pay law has been signed into law, card-check is probably next and that will likely be followed by new healthcare regulations and other labor-related legislation. It can be hard enough to keep up with your business, staying on top of all these changes makes things all the more difficult. This is where a good business lawyer comes in.
Your attorney is more than just your representative in court. She is also an advisor who can help you deal with thorny legal issues before they become major problems. The key is to find one that fits you and your business.
Probably the best way to do this is to get referrals from people you trust. This actually goes for hiring any kind of lawyer. Make your list and then research them. The Internet is a great place to begin, but you may have to find more specialized sources such as the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which can be easily accessed through Lawyers.com. What you need to look for are the biographical material as well as the entries regarding experience and specialties. This should help you narrow your choices before taking the next step—the interviews.
Interview the Candidates
This is not something you walk into sight unseen. An initial consultation with your prospective attorneys is very important. This will be a two-way discussion where both sides ask answer various questions because this is the time for you and the attorney to decide if you are right for each other. That said, ask as many questions as you need to. There is no sense in being surprised later on because you didn't get as much information as you should have up front. Some of the questions you should ask include:
What kind of background or experience do you have in this area?
How many matters like mine have you handled in the past year or two?
Who else in your firm would work on my case?
What's your fee structure, and how often will I be billed?
How will you keep me informed of any developments?
Do you represent any of my company's competitors?
What's your attitude toward alternative dispute resolution like mediation or arbitration?
There are others, but by the end of the interview you should at least have an idea about this attorney's capabilities and experience, how they will bill you, whether a portion of your case will go to associates or paralegals, how you should expect to communicate, if there are any potential conflicts of interest and if the attorney trusts any kind of alternative dispute resolution. If the answer to that is “No,” that should be a red flag to you regarding this particular attorney.
Check Their References
This is the last step. Ask for references and then call them. Ask pertinent questions regarding the attorney and her performance then ask yourself, “Am I convinced?” If yes, go ahead and hire, if not, move on down the list until you are convinced.
The search for the right business lawyer can be time-consuming and frustrating, but don't settle for anyone other than the right lawyer for you. The results will be worth the effort.