It is no secret that small business is big business. 52% of all sales in the US now come from small businesses. With that comes increased competition, and when you need to defend your organization legally, do you have the right person for the job?
Getting the right attorney can seem daunting at first, but it can be done. Read on as we discuss why you need a business lawyer in Houston.
1. What Is Your Experience in My Industry?
Just as law covers many areas and skills, being a business attorney is the same. Your business will be unique, with legal risks and needs that others do not have. Therefore, you need someone with experience in your given field.
Perhaps you need advice and assistance with franchising, trademark protection, or intellectual property. Each of these is very individual and needs a certain skillset. Ask the attorney to discuss other companies they have worked within similar niches and provide references from previous clients.
2. What Do They Charge?
Knowing how a small business attorney will charge is as important as the amount they will charge. If you have a small business, it is likely that you are on a tight budget. When working out your finances, you need to know exactly what your money will be going on.
You need to know if the attorney will be charging a fixed rate or hourly rate. If this will be hourly, make you ask to see a sample of their billing to ensure transparency. Time should be labeled so you know they are not adding unused time on for the charge.
3. Do You Need a Retainer?
It is perfectly acceptable for a small business attorney to ask for a retainer. In this instance, ask about the conditions and terms of the retainer and what percentage this will be. Most importantly, you need to know if this will be returned should the full amount not be used or needed.
4. Who Else Will Handle the Work?
You will find that most lawyers delegate work to a paralegal. However, too much can mean you end up paying extra costs. You then have to get the message across to someone else after already explaining it.
Speak to the attorney about who else will be handling the case. Make sure you meet them and establish clear communication channels. If you feel too many people are involved, then you should look elsewhere.
5. Are There Any Conflicts?
The more niche your industry is and the more specialist your attorney becomes, the more of a chance exists that they may be working for your competitors. Even former employers and partners could create a conflict of interest. You may want to discuss what would happen should one of them come along and ask for the attorney’s services.
6. How Do You Prefer to Communicate?
Communication is a very personal thing. You may want your legal counsel to be on hand 24 hours a day, with direct access to their mobile phone. However, this may not suit the attorney, who may prefer emails during working hours.
No method of communication is right or wrong. Some methods are simply more suited to different needs. Speak with your small business attorney and see how they like to be contacted.
7. Can I Interview for Free?
When finding a business attorney, you should never go with the first one you speak with. Instead, you should interview two or three to get the right one. In this, you can provide them with the questions contained in this article.
Some attorneys will charge a normal business rate for this service. If they are in high demand, they may have lots of people who come in and try to get information for free. This charge allows them to be compensated while adding value to the person doing the interviewing.
Charging for this service is neither wrong nor right. However, you should be aware of this so you can adjust your costs and budgeting accordingly. Interviewing is recommended even if it costs, as it can also help you understand why you need a business attorney in the first place.
8. Do You Belong to Any Specialist Associations?
Experience counts for a lot, but you also need a lawyer engaging with modern business practices. One way to know they are not out of time and up to standard is through their membership of associations.
Local bar organizations or business advisory councils are a great indicator. This shows the lawyer is proactive in keeping up to date with current business and legal matters.
9. How Often Do You Go to Trial?
As a small business owner, going to trial is probably the last thing you want. However, a time may come when you need to defend your trademark protection, personal assets, or any other number of issues. That can mean lengthy legal battles and possible trials.
Trials can be costly, so many people prefer to settle and make arrangements before this. If you have an attorney who aggressively pushes you to go to trial, then it could bring conflict. Not only will this cost you more, you may be left changing representation in the middle of legal wrangling.
10. Are They Based Locally?
If you have a huge global conglomerate, finding legal representation locally does not matter. However, as a small business, it is important. Your state or area may have specific laws you need to stick with that may get overlooked by outsiders.
In addition, you don’t want to travel far to meetings. Local hiring also helps you build up a long-term relationship with your legal representation.
Business Lawyer in Houston
Now you know why you need a business lawyer in Houston, take the time to shop around. Do this before incidents occur, so you already have a relationship built up. When the time comes, you know you will be prepared.
If you found this article helpful, we have many more to assist your business. From finance to marketing, we can help your business boom in the coming years.