by Brian Riles | World Executives Digest | Every business would be requiring two types of professionals almost from the start of the venture. They are the accountants and the lawyers. You would be requiring the services of a competent business attorney and an accountant for the smooth running of your small business. The reasons for employing an attorney are many and pretty obvious. You would be requiring a financial professional for setting up the ‘chart of accounts’, reviewing meticulously all your numbers from time to time and preparing the mandatory state, local and federal tax returns.
Your business cannot run efficiently without the services of a qualified accountant. Similarly, a fully qualified and expert business attorney is indispensable to the running of your business even though you are having a small business. A competent business attorney would be providing necessary legal assistance and legal advice in practically every aspect of your small business right from the rudimentary zoning compliance, trademark advice and copyright to lawsuits and liability, and formal business incorporation.
Do Not Undermine the Role of a Business Attorney
It is a popular belief that business attorneys are exorbitant and are used to charging very high rates. Moreover, people think that small businesses do not seem to have a surplus capital for paying off the lawyers. As such, most of the small businesses prefer to hire a business attorney only when they encounter any serious legal issue. However, you must realize that legal assistance is an expenditure that would be helping your business and saving money eventually.
There would be times when your business would encounter serious crises that would be too time-consuming and complicated and would necessitate the services of a business attorney. It would then be a wise decision to retain an experienced business attorney having a good track record in corporate law.
Instances When to Seek Assistance
- You have been sued by current, former or even prospective employees on grounds such as hostile work environment, firing or discrimination in hiring.
- Your company is confronted with an investigation or complaint by the federal, state or local governmental entities for violation of existing laws.
- You wish to opt for a special allocation of your profits, as well as, losses or contribute appreciated property either to your LLC agreement or your partnership.
- An environmental problem cropped up and your business seems to be involved in the mess even though your business is not responsible for causing the issue. You could be penalized even then.
- While negotiating for the acquisition of any new company or sale of the existing company.
Needless to say that it becomes mandatory for you to hire an expert business attorney in the event of any of the above-mentioned serious issues, it is equally important to try and avert the incidence of such situations in the very first place. Prevention would not necessitate the employing of an attorney but it would not hurt to consult and seek appropriate legal advice to determine the future course of action. It is always a good idea to consider opting for a consultation arrangement wherein you would be taking all the pains of doing research and your attorney would be reviewing and providing legal guidance. Get in touch with someone in the office of the premier Boston attorney Tom Kiley for effective legal action and solutions.
Questions to Ask While Hiring a Business Attorney
The fact is that you would not be requiring an attorney for every legal issue you encounter during the functioning of your business. But when you do come across situations that necessitate legal assistance and intervention, you must know how to identify the best business attorney. Here are some vital questions to ask while choosing the right corporate lawyer for your small business.
Do you have an experience in handling cases associated with my industry?
Issues such as franchise agreements, intellectual property, and service contracts would be requiring sound knowledge and special skills. You need to find out if the attorney you are about to hire has adequate exposure and work experience with a business that is similar to yours. As your attorney, if he could share the contact details of some of his previous clients. This is a good way of checking out the credentials of your attorney.
What is your way of resolving conflicts?
You need to find out if your attorney is more into actively fighting it out in the court or is he more dedicated to mediating disputes. Then you would need to decide what type of attorney you would like to hire for your case. Often highly aggressive lawyers may not be appropriate for settling a case.
Will someone else handle my case?
Remember that most of the high-profile busy business attorneys would be assigning work to paralegals, but beware of those attorneys who are in the habit of delegating an extensive amount of tasks. It would be really expensive if you need to go on explaining something first to your lawyer and again re-explaining to the paralegal. Moreover, the message may also get muddled in the process. While there is no harm if some work is delegated to the paralegal but you need to know what tasks are assigned to whom.
How much time would you need to get back to me?
If you are looking for an attorney who is easily accessible and is prompt in responding to your calls or queries, be sure to find out at the very beginning, how much time your attorney would be taking to respond to you. Often you would be diverted to the paralegal and you would not be able to contact the lawyer directly for many days.
How do you usually communicate?
Many business attorneys would be communicating mostly via phone or email. There are still others who do not care much about communication beyond the scheduled office meetings. If you are looking for someone who would be there to respond to your queries as and when they come up, you need to find out your attorney’s communication habit and style and see if that works for you.
How do you intend to bill?
You must try to learn about how your attorney is going to bill. This would save you from any undesirable surprises when the attorney’s bill actually arrives the very first time. You must be clear about all other expenses including paralegal and research fees.
Can your services be any cheaper?
High legal fees can be very disheartening. Try to find out if there are any ways or procedures by which the costs can be slashed, like you doing a portion of the work, for example, rounding up the documents or preparing event summaries yourself. These are things that all clients can do. If an attorney isn’t even willing to consider these avenues, it could be a red flag.
Are there any Specialized Bar Associations you are a part of?
It is important that you are represented by an attorney who is updated with all the recent happenings in business and law. A good way to check this is to find out if he is a member of any specialized legal communities like the local bar association, an advisory board or chamber of commerce. More importantly, find out if he is comfortable, experienced, and updated in the field of practice for which you want to hire him.
Can you make referrals to colleagues or other attorneys?
A good attorney is never afraid to admit his shortcomings in a particular situation. If there is a particular issue which he is doubtful about or lacks experience in; he should not think twice before putting you in touch with an attorney in a better position to deal with it. The hesitation to do the same out of insecurity of losing their job should be a deal-breaker.
It is vital that you schedule regular meetings with your lawyer. While this seems unnecessary, you’ll find it immediately effective in the long run as you stay updated at all times and don’t have to keep phoning to and fro every time there is a development. A monthly meeting will also nip most problems in the bud, mitigate risk, and simply make the process more enjoyable and effective.
Author Bio: Brian Riles is an associate working with the premier Boston attorney Tom Kiley. He has worked several high-profile cases in the past and is no stranger to the nitty-gritty of the legal system. He also runs a legal blog in his spare time.