Conventional wisdom (and most lawyers) will tell you that if you are a business owner or manager, you will be in trouble if you don’t have a good business lawyer. But when I hear that, I take it as a bad word, which honestly annoys me. I think that smart business people don’t want to be looked down upon and if they don’t have a lawyer, they will be stupid or inexperienced to avoid pitfalls.
Another way of saying this is that I personally hate doing anything to escape. I prefer to make choices that will allow me to go beyond my perceived value in my practice. So that’s how I talk to my clients. So, with that in mind, I would rephrase the main benefit of having a great lawyer on your side as: you will make more money. Therefore, you should consider a business lawyer as your partner who will help you make choices that will improve your business and increase your brand. Now, if you are looking for a lawyer or you are not happy with your current lawyer, how to choose a good business lawyer. But first an explanation. What is a business lawyer? I personally know the difference between a commercial lawyer and a corporate or business lawyer. To me, a business lawyer in the clearest sense of the word refers to the classic lawyer-client relationship where the lawyer is more than a book drawer. I define a business lawyer as your partner or confidant. Someone you can talk to, someone who can solve your problems, understand you and help you grow.
Now, here are my top 10 tips for choosing a great business attorney, in no particular order. 10. Don’t think you need a big, high-end company. I came from many big blue-collar law firms. They do good law and sometimes you need the “brand” or “label” of a big law firm next to you, for example if you go public. But for full-time work, you don’t need such a company. They are very expensive and have many levels. So, to treat the best dog, you will pay up to $1000 per hour, or more. If your budget is a quarter of that, you’ll be dealing with a much smaller team that won’t have the business experience you’re looking for. It really depends on your needs and budget.
9. Don’t just focus on the hourly rate that will be billed per hour. If you’re torn between someone who costs you $250 an hour and someone else at $350 an hour, you’ve made a tough decision. What is important are two things: first, what the final cost will be and, second, how much profit will be received. The hourly rate is a red herring. What is the benefit of someone doing work for you at $250 an hour if that person needs 40 hours for the work while the other lawyer at $350 an hour only needs 20 hours? Especially if the other lawyer can do a better job for you. Invoicing policy is a very thorny and detailed question that will be answered in a few lines. All I’m saying is that hourly rates aren’t the be all and end all. 8. Find someone you like to have a drink with. In order for your relationship with your business attorney to be fruitful, you must contact him personally. It is beneficial for you to allow your lawyer to come into your life as a friend. For that to happen, there must be personal chemistry.
Seven. Look for business experience. If your business lawyer is going to advise you on your business, it is common to say that business experience is important. Again, this makes the difference between dealing with a junior partner who is just going to school and someone who has a lot of hands-on business experience.
6. Look for someone who is open to a specific financial arrangement. No one I know wants to hire a lawyer without knowing what the final bill will be. Although this is often difficult for a lawyer to predict, he (she) may be open to flexible or fixed financial arrangements. And he (she) should be able to give you at least a good idea about debt. 5. Look for a deal maker not a deal breaker. In any business, there can be many reasons why the deal can’t work or why the deal isn’t good. You don’t want a lawyer putting up unnecessary obstacles to make the case work. It takes a manual process. It is a business risk issue and your lawyer should give you the pros and cons and give you advice instead of blocking the deal. 4. Think of your corporate attorney as your interim VP of law. Some business lawyers are open to retainer agreements where they will agree to work as part-time VP legal at a lower cost than hiring a law firm. For example, a lawyer may offer you services for a certain number of days per month at a fixed rate. It can save you money and help you start your business with an intelligent insider who will understand your business better.