Hiring the Right Attorney – Easy as 1-2-3!
While hiring the right attorney for your small business may sound about as pleasant as a trip to the dentist, it doesn’t have to be that way. Getting legal advice so that your business is operating correctly and proactively mitigating legal risk is a necessary part of running a small business. Done right, you won’t just appreciate your lawyer . . . you’ll LOVE your lawyer!
What a Small Business Attorney Does for You
A small business attorney can:
- draft contracts to set clear expectations and provide legal protections.
- advise you on the policies and practices you need to implement to be legally compliant with regulations applicable to your business.
- help you avoid intellectual property infringement, while also protecting YOUR intellectual property (or at least introduce you to someone who can help in these areas).
- work with you as your business grows to set up the right policies for employee hiring, onboarding, and even termination.
- to learn more, read the post Does Your Small Business Need an Attorney?
Gathering a List of Candidates:
So how do you go about the process of selecting the RIGHT attorney for you?
- Ask family, friends, and co-workers for recommendations
- Call your local bar association and ask for referrals
- Use legal search websites such as AVVO and FindLaw
- Google “attorney + [key words for what you need] + near me” and see what hits you get
Evaluating Your Candidates:
Once you have the names, it’s as easy as 1-2-3:
1. Stalk them on the Internet.
Seriously. Look at the profile of each attorney everywhere you can find them on – their website, LinkedIn Profile, Facebook Business Page, other social media apps, Google My Business, etc. Don’t rely solely on results from paid attorney search sites such as AVVO and FindLaw. Because attorneys who pay advertising dollars will rank higher than those who don’t. And some really fine attorneys don’t pay to advertise.
- Does their branding resonate with you? (In other words, is this a swipe right or a swipe left candidate?)
- Is their messaging consistent? And is it speaking to you?
- Do they provide the services you are looking for?
2. Make the calls.
Call those candidates who made the initial cut. Take advantage of those who offer free initial consultations. And if you have strong contenders who charge for the initial consultation, it may be worth investing in a couple to find “Mr. or Ms. Right” because it is vital to have an attorney that you can trust and with whom you can maintain an ongoing relationship.
3. Explore the Five C’s during the initial consultation:
- Cost – what does the attorney charge? Hourly? Flat rate? Because let’s face it, as a small business you have a limited budget and you need some predictability here.
- Credentials – Don’t be afraid to ask – Are you licensed to practice in my state (or in the state where I intend to do business)? How long have you been in practice? Have you handled other matters similar to mine? What made you decide to pursue this area of law? Has there been any disciplinary action against you?
- Convenience – Is it easy to make an appointment? Does the attorney offer virtual appointments? How far away is the attorney’s office? Does the attorney answer her own phone? Or do you have to navigate several layers of gate-keepers to get to her?
- Caring – Does the attorney appear engaged, personable, and genuinely interested in helping you resolve your concerns? Or is he distracted and rushing you through the consultation? Does he “get” your business and your objectives?
- Comfort – Arguably the most important consideration is your comfort level with the attorney to whom you are speaking. Are you okay sharing your personal/business information with this person? Because an attorney can’t help you resolve problems and concerns unless you can be totally honest with them about what is going on with you and your business.
By the time you’ve completed that initial consultation, you should have a good feel for whether an attorney is the right fit for you and your business needs. If you are still unsure, take some time to think about it while you contact other candidates. But sometimes you just know… and if that’s the case, sign the engagement letter and get started! You have nothing to lose, and a lot of peace of mind to be gained.
To learn more about my small business services, check my website!