Many small businesses do not think about hiring a lawyer until a legal problem has risen and they are being sued. When someone wants to bring you to court for a faulty product or a deal that did not go through, it might be too late.
Unfortunately, being sued can spell the end for small businesses. Not only can it tarnish your small business’ reputation, but the entire process can also drain your bank account.
Do not let it get to that point. Avoid lawsuits by hiring lawyers for you to consult with and ask advice on any legal matters. Whether you want to know more about captive insurance law or you need an expert to look over a contract, here are the questions you should ask when interviewing lawyers for your small business.
What is Your Experience?
There are different kinds of lawyers out there and most of them have their own specialties. While any lawyer can help you navigate the legal world, you would want someone who has experience in cases that involve businesses.
You are encouraged to investigate the lawyer’s prior cases and successes. You can ask them specific questions about your current goals. If you are in the process of registering a product for federal trademark and copyright protection, for example, ask them if they have performed similar work for another company.
Are You Friendly with Other Lawyers?
This is another question that will help ensure that you get the legal aid you need in the future. In case you need to file for a patent and the lawyer you hire is not familiar with the process, they should be able to refer you to a specialist. A well-connected lawyer knows other lawyers with different specialties.
Do You Have Another Client in the Same Industry?
Your lawyer likely will have other clients. That is normal and okay. However, you would not want to hire a lawyer who is already representing one or more of your competitors.
The legal code of ethics requires lawyers to not spill sensitive information about a client to another person. It might become a conflict of interest in the future. It is still more ideal if your lawyer is not consulting with any of your competitors to avoid leaks that may undermine your small business’ upward trajectory.
How Well Do You Know the Industry?
Ideally, your lawyer has some familiarity with the industry in which you operate. They might not be able to understand what you need or predict what is best for your business if they are unaware of the environment.
If not, then they should be willing to learn about the ins and outs of the field.
What About Billing?
Finally, the question that could decide whether you will hire the lawyer or not. Talk about billing. Do not be ashamed to ask about payment, especially during the initial consultation. You would regret not talking about it earlier when you end up having to pay more money than you expected.
Some lawyers charge a flat rate for a particular service. Others may charge in increments depending on their jurisdiction. Additionally, you should ask about other fees that you may have to pay.
While big corporations face legal matters more frequently, they have the resources to fight. Even if they lose, they are unlikely to go bankrupt with legal fees and financial retribution. However, small businesses have more to lose. It is better to avoid lawsuits altogether by having a lawyer on call to advise you.