A business attorney is a vital part of any new California business. They can help the business owner to form their business correctly and put preventative measures in place. In this article, we will discuss the five steps of selecting a business attorney in California.
The five steps are:
- Identifying the type of legal help you require
- Finding business lawyers
- Interviewing shortlisted business attorneys
- Negotiating fees
- Understanding when you need the help of your lawyer
Identifying the Type of Legal Help You Require
Hire a business lawyer to help you protect your business from legal issues before they occur. For example, a company can face lawsuits from employees if the company inadvertently labor laws,” according to Nakase Wade San Diego business attorneys.
for Not only can your business face lawsuits if not properly set up, but it can also face severe penalties from the government. A business attorney can help you with the following things:
- Civil Litigation – Your business lawyer will prevent and mitigate the effects of civil lawsuits. They will also help you out if you are served or need to sue somebody.
- Business formation – Your business attorney will talk you through how different business entities may benefit or disadvantage you.
- ADA Violations – We see many small business owners crippled by unexpected ADA lawsuits. The compensation and settlements can be astronomical for a new business. Our business lawyers will help you to identify possible ADA issues and rectify them before you are sued.
- Raising venture capital – A business lawyer can help you raise money in a way that is compliant with securities laws.
- Founder agreements – By writing down the terms of the partnership in a legally binding document, it reduces the chances of business disputes.
- Employees – Before you start hiring employees, have a business attorney help you to create employment policies and hiring practices.
- Employment disputes – Even if your employment policies are watertight, you will experience labor disputes. Your business lawyer can help you resolve these through mediation and arbitration and help you if you need to take the case to trial.
- Intellectual property protection – Your business lawyer will help you protect your business interests through trademarks, patents and other protections.
- Contracts – A strong contract will protect your business interests in dealings with suppliers, clients, and attorneys.
Don’t leave it until you are being sued to hire a business attorney, be proactive in protecting your business.
Finding Business Lawyers
Take your list of what you need from a business attorney and use it to search for lawyers that match those needs. Consider if you need a generalist or a lawyer who specializes in a particular skill. If you are a startup or small business, a generalist business lawyer may be beneficial during the first few years of your business. If you’re hiring employees, a labor law attorney is necessary to draft employment agreements.
Search legal directories to find a list of business lawyers in your local area. Alternatively, you can ask other business owners for a referral. Do your research and read reviews and narrow it down to a shortlist.
Interviewing Shortlisted Business Attorneys
Once you have chosen a few business lawyers you think will suit your needs, book a free consultation with each of the shortlisted employees and meet them. Most business attorneys will offer a free consultation so that they can learn more about their clients. You can ask questions of the attorney to learn about their experience and skills before committing.
Prepare a list of questions in advance. We suggest starting with the following:
- Have you worked with many businesses like mine? Find out if the attorney has worked with businesses of your size or structure. Finding an attorney that regularly works with companies of your size will mean that the attorney’s fees will be more in your budget. If the attorney works with Fortune 500 companies, they will often have the fees to match.
- Will you be the only one working on my business? Business attorneys will often work on a number of cases at once, and therefore, other members of their team will work on your business. This may be other associates or clerks and paralegals. Generally, this is a benefit as there will be many hands on deck, but you can talk to your attorney about what your needs are.
- Are there any conflicts of interest? The more specialist your business lawyer is, the more likely they will represent a competitor or supplier. If this is the case, you need to know in advance. If you face a legal dispute with one of your business lawyer’s clients, you may find yourself without your usual attorney.
- Do you have experience with X legal issue? If you are facing a particular legal issue or you struggle with certain areas, then talk to the attorney about it. Ask them how they would handle the issue or what their experience is.
- What communication methods do you use? Ensure the business lawyer works with your preferred communication methods, no matter what they would be. Some people have preferences for how they like to receive news and updates.
- What are your fees? Talk about money in the consultation. Get an idea of how much your attorney will charge and what fee structure they will use.
On top of how much your attorney charges, you need to know what fee structures they use in which circumstances. These are the most common fee structures a business lawyer will use.
If a lawyer is unsure how long a particular task may take, they will charge an hourly rate. This is most commonly used for a task that requires input from another party, like negotiations or training.
A flat fee means that the rate is set per task. No matter what happens, it will cost the amount agreed upon in advance. A lawyer will use a flat fee if there is a clear scope of the task.
A retainer agreement means that you pre-purchase a certain amount of time from your attorney. It means that you will receive quicker responses, and your work will be prioritised. If you are facing litigation, your attorney will charge you either on retainer or an hourly rate.
Understanding When You Need the Help of Your Lawyer
There are some tasks that benefit from legal help and others that are more beneficial (and cost-effective) if handled alone. Identifying the areas where you can handle business tasks yourself will keep your legal fees down and free up your attorney’s time for more important areas. Here are some examples of tasks you should handle yourself:
- Hiring employees
- Applying for an EIN
- Writing a business plan
- Filing formation papers (especially for certain entity types)
- Apply for business licenses
- Applying for a business loan
- Choosing a business name
- Choosing domain names or logos
The best way to protect your business interest is by hiring a business lawyer. They will protect your business against legal claims and will help you to negotiate favorable contracts. Doing the research to ensure you find an attorney that suits your needs is just as important.
Contact us today to book a consultation and discuss your business needs. Our business attorneys have decades of experience working with small businesses and startups. We can help guide you through the first few years of operations and beyond. Speak to us about the challenges your company is facing and how we can best support you.