Business • Law
Top Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Business Attorney
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Some consider hiring an attorney as easy as it sounds. Consequently, they believe that all they must do is look for a professional online and simply hire them – preferably on the spot.
While many people actually do so, this is not good practice, and might even ruin your company or business. Why? Because a business attorney is someone who handles sensitive legal information related to your company. If they don’t handle it properly, you will be the one to face the consequences.
A business attorney is hired only when they show the confidence and professionalism required for the job – as well as when they give the right answer to the following questions:
How experienced are you in my particular field of activity or industry?
Business attorneys know a lot about how a business works and should work, but they have varied expertise and experience as well. Each attorney may have more experience in a certain industry, rather than at a general level.
Naturally, you should hire the one that is a good fit for your particular industry, as well as for the issues that you want fixing. For example, if you have issues with intellectual property, then you shouldn’t waste time with an attorney experienced more in service contracts.
How do you usually solve the conflict?
Usually, business attorneys have their own way of solving a conflict and, in most cases, their way might not be in line with the values of your company. However, they might also not be able to solve the conflict in the manner that you want them to.
Overall, the attorney should be flexible and willing to change their ways of conflict resolution to accommodate you, their client. If an attorney comes up with multiple ways to solve a conflict, then they might be the one suitable for your business.
Who will, mainly, handle my legal issues?
Attorneys are, obviously, busy people. However, this doesn’t mean that most of your company’s legal work should be handled by paralegals or assistants. It’s especially important to determine the amount of time a potential attorney is willing to spend on your business and its issues.
On top of that, paralegals could take longer to deal with certain things. This translates to more billable hours and, ultimately, to higher fees for something your attorney didn’t do.
Do you work with clients who could create a conflict of interest?
A business attorney will most likely have no issue in working with two people who are competitors. However, you – as the client – may have a difficult time sharing company information with them, simply because you know they work with your competitor.
Being able to share information with your attorney and trusting them to keep it secret, is extremely important when it comes to running a business. As such, it is better if they don’t work for any of your competitors.
How long it will take for you to get back to me after a call?
One of the things attorneys are notorious for is the rather unacceptable amount of time they take to get back to you, after a call. In most cases, you will talk more to their paralegal than with the actual attorney – and this is something you’d want to avoid.
In fact, if it takes more than two days for your attorney to get back to you after you call them with an urgent matter, you should consider changing attorneys.
Depending on the industry of your company, you might need immediate counsel and, as such, someone who can provide it.
What are your preferred ways of communication?
Naturally, an attorney will communicate with you mainly via phone or email. However, some don’t engage in communication, unless you schedule an office meeting with them. This is not a disadvantage and might simply imply that their services are in high demand.
However, if you feel like you need a more available attorney, then you should choose one that doesn’t object to late phone calls, impromptu emails, etc. Office meetings, with strict scheduling plans, might be counter-productive for your business.
How do you bill or tax?
Depending on what type of attorney you’re looking for, this can be the first or the last question you’ll ask them. If you’re worried about your business’ funds, then you’ll determine their billing procedures in the first minute.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to pay more for experience, for example, then you’ll wait, and ask this particular question later.
Nevertheless, determining how the attorney bills during the first meeting is extremely important, as you’ll avoid any tax or fee surprises later!
Are you willing to refer me to other attorneys?
As mentioned above, each attorney specializes in a certain aspect of the industry. So, in some cases, your own attorney might not be able to help you. If this happens, you must ensure that, instead of trying to fix the problem on their own, your attorney will try to refer you to colleagues who can help you and your business.
A good attorney will never be afraid, or uncertain when it comes to putting you in touch with the people that can help your business.
The Bottom Line
Hiring a business attorney is not an easy task. You must find the right person to take care of your company’s legal matters and, on top of that, to make themselves available to you, whenever you have any questions.
Given the sensitive information they must deal with, it goes without saying that you must always ask the questions above, in the first meeting with an attorney. Failing to do so, will result in you discovering this information later!