How to Choose an Attorney

As a small business owner, there are times when you may need to hire an attorney. Depending on the type of business you have, how large it is, what industry you’re in and your overall legal needs, you may need to hire an attorney to handle single tasks, or you may need to have one on retainer for consistent work.

Just like there are many of different specialties within your field of work, there are attorneys who specialize in different parts of law. Some attorneys handle tax law, some handle real estate law, and others are more general practice.

So, what is the best way to choose an attorney for your business? While there is no one “correct” way of doing so, following these tips will help make it easier.

  1. When Do You Need an Attorney?

Closeup of boss reading filled application form

One of the most important steps to choosing an attorney is figuring out when you need one. If you’re only going to need legal help sporadically, then there’s no sense in hiring one and paying a firm a consistent fee.

That being said, it’s always best to hire an attorney before you actually need them. It’s much tougher — and more expensive — for a lawyer to fix a mistake than it is to prevent one from happening in the first place.

Attorneys can be helpful in all aspects of business, from helping to properly establish the business to reviewing contracts for leases to helping draft employment contracts. The earlier you establish a relationship with an attorney, the more likely you are to get a long-term benefit from having one.

  1. What Kind of Attorney Do You Need?

Once you’ve established when you need an attorney, then you can drill down into the type of attorney you need. If you think you’ll need an attorney rather consistently, then it would be a good idea to find one that handles multiple areas of law. At the very least, he or she should be part of a firm that is multi-faceted.

A great way to think of a business attorney is like a primary care doctor. Your main business attorney should be able to handle most, if not all, of your legal needs. If there is a more complicated problem or issue that arises, then he or she should be able to refer you to a specialist, or provide you with an attorney in his or her firm who can help.

  1. What Size Firm Do You Need?

This goes hand-in-hand with the question above. If you’re a small business just starting out, it’s probably safe for you to go with a smaller practice when searching for an attorney. If you’re a larger company with wider needs, though, you’ll probably want to look for a bigger firm.  

There are a few reasons for this.

First, large firms are often more expensive, and this might not be a cost you really need to incur as a smaller business. Second, larger firms often have large clients that take up a lot of their time, which can push you to the backburner at times. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it makes sense that this would happen.

You should be looking for a firm that fits the mold of what your business is and what you need. A huge law firm for a small business is more of a square-peg-in-a-round-hole situation.

  1. Where Does Your Attorney Need to Be Located?

The law can vary greatly from state to state, especially when it comes to business regulations. At the very least, you should be looking for an attorney who is well-versed on the law in the state in which you’re based.

You also need to consider if the attorney you hire will need to be familiar with law in other states, though. Do you do a lot of business across state lines that would force you to comply with those states’ laws? Do you have multiple locations in different states?

These are questions you need to fully investigate first before hiring an attorney. If the lawyer you hire can’t help you in the places you need help, then you’ll have to cobble together a team of different attorneys who can.

This leads to the final question …

  1. What Else Can Your Attorney Provide?

Selling your business in South FloridaAs a small business owner, it’s always beneficial if you can establish good relationships with everyone you do business with — including those who you are paying for their services. If you can get more out of the relationship than just the legal advice and work that you’re paying your attorney for, then all the better.

In this regard, are they members of trade associations that have events you could attend? Can they connect you with others in your field or potential clients/customers? Do they have other attorneys in their network who they trust in case you need extra help?

These are all great questions to ask both yourself and potential attorneys as you’re vetting possible fits for your company. Of course, you have to be comfortable with whomever you hire from a personality, style, function and cost standpoint as well.

Above all else, as a small business owner, you should be searching for an attorney who genuinely has your best interests in mind, and isn’t just looking to log more billable hours.

Above all else, as a small business owner, you should be searching for an attorney who genuinely has your best interests in mind, and isn’t just looking to log more billable hours.

Sunbelt Business Brokers of West Palm Beach provides dedicated business brokerage services for all of your selling needs. Whether you are an established business owner nearing retirement and looking to sell, or an ambitious entrepreneur seeking your next investment opportunity, there is no reason to look beyond Sunbelt Business Brokers. Visit us at 800 Village Square Crossing
Suite 216 Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 or contact us at (561) 832-9222.