Being a small business owner, there’s a good chance that a lawsuit might be thrown your way. You’re not alone either.
According to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, 43% of small business owners have found themselves involved in a lawsuit.
When the time comes that you have to fight back, it’s important to find a business lawyer that knows the ins and outs of it all.
Asking questions is a great way to find a business lawyer that will help you win the case or set up your business.
If this is your first time in this situation, you might be scratching your head on what to ask. Smith Barid, LLC has you covered with these 7 questions that will help you make the right choice.
1. Do You Offer a Free Consultation?
Being a small business, you know that time is money. So it might seem like a good idea to ask for a free consultation.
The fact is that as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. A lawyer who offers free consultations is not in much demand and can afford to give away his or her time. Buyer beware. Attorneys who offer free consultations are often less experienced and use free consultations to attract potential clients.
A lawyer who charges for his or her initial consultation places value on that consultation and will come into the meeting prepared to help you determine the best way forward. We charge $100 for an initial one-hour consultation and gather information from you beforehand to make sure that consultation is valuable. We also credit that initial consultation fee towards the cost of any services for which you hire our firm.
2. What Is the Charge For Your Services?
Once you’ve figured out the details of a consultation, then you’ll want to get a clear picture of the business lawyer fees for their services.
Typically, lawyers will charge you an hourly rate for their work. This will include activities such as working on paperwork, talking with you on the phone, or showing up to court. This is one of the most common ways to be billed in the legal world.
One problem with hourly work is that you don’t know how much the bill is going to be until you get it in the mail. For that reason, we seek to offer alternative arrangements such as flat fee billing where possible. Ask us about it when you come in for your consultation.
Before any work takes place, a lawyer may also request a retainer. This means that you would pay money before the work takes place and it would be deducted as you are billed. These are usually non-refundable, but you can clarify this with us before proceeding.
3. Are You Experienced In Working For Small Businesses?
When choosing a lawyer, it’s very important to make sure that they know what they’re doing in the world of small businesses. If they’re knowledgable in the area, then odds are that they’ll be able to effectively help you with what you need.
Small business lawyers can help you with more than just lawsuits. They can also help you with setting up your business or with other matters that you might require their assistance for. Even if you don’t need their services right now, it’s good to have one that you can use in the case that you need them later.
If you want to get more specific, you can also ask if they’ve had any experience of working with businesses in your industry. If they have, that’s a bonus for you!
If they inform you that they’ve worked with small businesses before but they’re not in your industry, they’re most likely still a good option for you.
Always confirm that they work with small businesses like yourself so that you know that they’re prepared for the job.
4. How Should We Communicate With Each Other?
When hiring a lawyer, it’s important to know how to get ahold of one another. You never know when you might need the help of your lawyer in a pinch.
Find out how to best reach your lawyer, and let them know how you prefer to communicate, too. For less urgent matters, email might be the most effective for both of you. If it’s urgent your lawyer might ask you to phone them for a faster reply.
If you start your communication off well, then everything will go much smoother later.
5. Who Will Work On My File or Case?
Sometimes, lawyers delegate some of their work off to others in the office. This usually doesn’t cause any problems as the work that is delegated is often less pressing.
It’s still a good idea to understand who will be working on your file. If it is someone other than the lawyer you’re in contact with, then verify that the other individual is qualified to handle everything.
If the lawyer that you’re speaking with states that they’ll handle everything, then you’ll know who to turn to for every matter.
6. Are You Licensed and Do You Belong To Bar Associations?
Before hiring an attorney, it’s important to verify that they’re licensed.
It will give you peace of mind knowing that they’re trained and licensed to handle your legal matters.
When a legal firm is properly licensed, they usually display this on their website. Be sure to check there to confirm that they are. In the case that you can’t find confirmation, you can ask them to provide proof or search online for proof of their credentials.
Don’t forget to inquire about their membership in bar associations. If they are part of them, ask if they are part of any small business bar associations in particular as well.
This is a great question to ask as it will help you determine if they keep up to date on the world of small business and best legal practices.
7. Can You Send Me Some Of Your References And Reviews?
It’s important for you to know how other clients feel about the services of the law firm. If you ask the lawyer to provide this and they decline, it could be a bad sign.
You can also take it upon yourself to do some searching online for a little more about them.
It’s great if the lawyer can provide you with a few reviews from other small businesses too. If they can prove that they’ve provided help to small businesses before, then they’re probably a firm that you want to work with.
Ask the Right Questions to Your Business Lawyer
Whether you’re just starting up your business or dealing with a lawsuit, a business lawyer is a necessity. They’ll keep you out of trouble, help prevent it in the future and save you money down the line.
It’s important to find the one that will work best for your business. This means that you’ll have to ask all the tough questions.
Here at Smith Barid, LLC we’re prepared to provide you with all the answers and more.
Contact us to find out how we can help you with your small business needs!