Depending on your needs, it’s a good idea to find a business lawyer who understands as many of the following legal skills as you can. Although if you occasionally need to go down one specific legal trail and require a specialist, your lawyer can certainly counsel you as to the value of that legal specialist.
So the more of the following skills your lawyer has, the stronger a counselor he or she will be.
Business organization – You need a business lawyer to help you decide whether a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) is the best business organization for you; then prepare and file the required paperwork
Taxes and licenses – Even if an accountant prepares and files business tax returns annually, your lawyer will register your business for federal and state tax identification numbers, and understand the tax consequences of the basic transactions in which your business engages.
Real estate – Leases of commercial space can be extremely intricate and are often skewed to benefit the landlord. Your attorney should research and then create a standard “tenant’s addendum. ” It will include provisions that benefit you, and can be added to the printed form lease document. Your attorney should also be able to negotiate these points successfully with your landlord.
Contracts – Once your attorney understands your business, they can prepare standard form contracts you will execute with customers, clients and vendors. They will also be able to assist your responses to contracts that other people will want you to sign.
Intellectual property – If you are in a media, design or other creative-type business, it is certainly a “plus ” if your lawyer can help you research and register your products and services for federal trademark and copyright protection. If your lawyer says he or she “specializes in small businesses, ” then they should have a close working relationship with intellectual property specialists.
Do you want a big firm or small one? – Generally speaking, the larger the law firm, the higher the hourly rates. But when it comes to services, larger firms offer more than smaller. Today, business lawyers are more specialized. So as previously stated; you might at-times need a specialist and will have to deal with two or three (or even more) attorneys.
If your business is small, a single attorney with good specialty contacts is best. Larger companies mean larger law firms. If you’re a fast-growing entrepreneurial company with plans to eventually go public, consider lawyers who are recognized by investment bankers and venture capitalist.
When choosing a business lawyer, gather specific information relative to your needs:
* How much, and what type, of experience, the attorney has with clients similar to you. * What are the firm’s referral processes if you need outside specialists? * Is this business lawyer knowledgeable in your specific industry? * Verify that your attorney handles client work, rather than recruiting new clients. * Ask about fees and billing. There are different types of fee plans, including flat-fee, hourly, retainer and contingency. Find out how flexible they are in letting you choose.