By James Forrest
Hiring a lawyer can be a tricky process that can be daunting for many. It doesn’t have to be! Your lawyer plays such an integral part in starting a company, it is important to find one with the right qualifications and with whom you feel comfortable.
There are several key factors that will help you find the right attorney for starting a company. I hope the recommendations below help make your decision a little less daunting for you.
Exercise Your Existing Network for Recommendations
When searching for a lawyer, utilize your network of colleagues and friends for recommendations. Ask around and see if there are one or two firms that come highly recommended more than once.
Keep in mind, it’s important to include your criteria in your request, specifically the area of legal expertise you seek. Let your network know what you’re looking for and what should be a good fit. Social media tools can be a great asset for this type of inquiry.
Do Your Homework
Similar to the medical profession, lawyers sometimes specialize in specific, narrow areas of the law. Make sure that the lawyer you select is both licensed to practice law and specialized in the type of services you seek.
Utilize the Internet to help you determine the qualifications of your potential lawyer. To confirm the lawyer’s license is current and valid, visit the North Carolina State Bar’s website. Use online profiles, such as LinkedIn and AVVO.com, to confirm experience matches your needs.
Interview Your Top Choices
Once you’ve received a recommendation and done your research, set up a time to meet with your potential lawyer. Ask questions. Many people feel intimidated to ask about experience, price or timelines. Don’t. You are the customer and it’s important to ensure a good fit.
The following questions are perfectly acceptable to ask of a lawyer who will help you with opening a business:
How many times have you done this before?
A lawyer who specializes in opening a business should have done this many times before and should be more than willing to share this information with you.
Who are your past clients?
While lawyers are under strict confidentiality terms with their clients, with permission, they can share past clients with you. Don’t be afraid to ask for references.
Define Your Terms Prior to Starting Any Work
In addition to asking about experience, ask about price and timelines. Make sure you are fully aware of what you are going to be charged, what services you will receive and when the work will be complete. These terms should be agreed upon prior to commencement of any work.
Use Your Lawyer as a Resource
Once you’ve found a lawyer with whom you are comfortable, utilize the relationship. Your new lawyer will be an integral part of your business team as well as a valuable resource for references in areas outside of their legal expertise. Typically good lawyers know really good bankers, accountants, insurance agents, etc. Once you’ve found a professional that is an asset to your team ping that professional for other recommendations.
Relying on your business lawyer for counsel and advice may help you both avoid pitfalls and position your company for long-term success.