Unfortunately, a large majority of businesses, regardless of the size, will need legal representation at some point. Logically, large enterprises need to deal with many more legal issues than small ones, but even the latter have to make sure they have the right legal team to provide support.
If you run a small business and have never hired a business attorney, you might be intimidated by the idea. To help you find the right team and enjoy a mutually beneficial long-term business relationship, we’ve prepared the following list of tips.
When should you hire a lawyer?
There is no universal answer to this question. Ideally, the sooner you establish a relationship and start receiving good advice, the better. On the other hand, that means you’ll need to start spending money earlier. That’s why every entrepreneur needs to contact local business lawyers and ask about their rates for basic services, such as initial consultation or a business formation.
This piece of information is also important for your budget. It’s always better to hire a lawyer before you do something that might get you into trouble, like taking money from investors.
What kind of lawyer do you need?
Business attorneys handle typical formation needs, which might include creating a corporation or LLC, putting together a partnership agreement or drafting a business contract. On the other hand, if you only need a trademark or have a question about the tax law in Australia, you should find a professional with experience in those fields.
Still, for long-term legal counsel for your business, you need a business attorney and find one of the reputable law firms in Sydney, which can take care of your business needs for legal counselling and representation.
Ideally, you should find someone who has worked for clients similar to you, i.e. from your line of business, but even if you can’t do that, you shouldn’t worry. For most small businesses, a general business lawyer is a good choice.
Pick a firm of the right size
Small businesses can’t afford to have their own in-house legal departments, which is why they turn to professionals. However, it’s possible that a large law firm will not give a small business enough attention, because they find other, bigger clients to be much more important to them.
While the rationale is quite clear, it still doesn’t mean you should accept such a treatment. After all, what some people may perceive as small and insignificant may easily mean the world to you. So, find a law firm that is not too big, but not too small either, since you might need help with various aspects of law.
Generally, the most important thing is to understand up front who you’ll be working with, regardless of the size of the law firm. Check how you can get in touch with them and what their availability is, should an urgent issue arise.
Treat it as investment
Yes, you do spend money on legal services, but to make sure you get the best value for money, you need to treat it as an investment and choose a lawyer who brings other resources to the table. For example, they might host regular events for their clients to meet and network or have a network of other attorneys and professionals they can refer you to when you have specialised needs.
Do you need a local lawyer?
Most people can’t imagine having a business lawyer living a bit further away, but over the past several years we’ve witnessed a change in attitude. Namely, most issues can be dealt with online, without any need for physical proximity, which means both business lawyers and prospective clients can cast their nets wide.
However, if your attorney needs to go to court, it would be great to have an attorney living in the same city or at least in your state. But for many business needs, a professional living in another state may be able to serve you just as well.
It’s not carved in stone
There are no guarantees that you’ll make the right choice the first time you choose a business lawyer. It’s possible that you’ll want to end the relationship for a number of valid reasons, but you should not treat it as a disaster. Remain professional, inform them about your reasons and ask them to return your files to you or forward them to your new lawyer.
The same applies to any funds you might have in the firm’s client trust account.
If you follow these tips, you should be able to find the right person or team to help you with most legal issues relevant to your small business. Making the right decision regarding this challenge is important, since it provides stability to your business operations and allows you to concentrate on income-generating activities of your enterprise, rather than those related to legal matters.
About the Author
Lilly Miller is a Sydney based writer and researcher, who is a devoted contributor to several blogs and magazines. Yoga lover.