In the course of doing business, any number of situations may arise – whether they be contract disputes, partner disagreements, or unscrupulous competitor activity – that may prompt you to contemplate beginning a dialogue with an attorney. So how do you know when that step should be taken? The answer may very well be “sooner than you think.” Richards Rodriguez & Skeith Managing Partner Jim Howicz explains what to consider when hiring counsel.
Lawyers Aren’t Just Litigators – They’re Also Advisors
A smart businessperson once told me that one of the keys to her success was to begin cultivating a group of go-to advisors soon after starting her business. She felt that it helped her manage different situations and recognize blind spots in areas she needed to improve. By taking this step, she would have a competitive advantage through strategic relationships with lawyers, accountants, business mentors, and peers versus someone who just kept their head down. I like to tell this story because it fits into a piece of advice I give entrepreneurs: know a lawyer before you need one.
A strategic relationship with legal counsel can be very beneficial. Find someone who you feel comfortable talking to when you’re in trouble or don’t know what to do. It’s important that you find counsel who is genuinely interested in building relationships with you and your business. You want them to know you, know how you do business, and understand your plans for the future. This will allow them to give you advice that is appropriately in tune with what you need and how you operate.
Finding the Right Counsel for You
What should you look for in legal counsel? Many lawyers specialize in a particular area of law, so be sure your attorney has experience relevant to your business. You need to be confident that your counsel has the corresponding knowledge base and communicates in a way in which you are comfortable. Naturally, that will require you to meet with them before you hire them, so you can talk to them about your company and begin establishing a rapport. I recommend considering more than one option. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and settle on counsel that you just sort of get along with.
Remember that this should be someone that you can confide in when you’re having a horrible day and who can help you through difficult situations. Be sure to ask about fees, costs, or retainers. You have a right to ask about the expenses you will be charged for their guidance and support. Understand how you will be billed and what will be expected of you. For a particular project, it’s not out of line to ask counsel to give you an estimate of how long it will take and how much it will cost.
We Can Help!
Remember, there are a lot of lawyers out there. Some will be the right fit for you and your business, some will not. It will benefit you in the long run to know what to consider when hiring counsel and putting in the early work towards finding the right counsel for you before you’re in a bind. Hiring a lawyer at short notice without having already created a relationship means time is unnecessarily lost while you’re deciding if they’re the right person for the job. It’s always good practice to have a lawyer before you need one.
Richards Rodriguez & Skeith’s team of expert attorneys is proficient in multiple disciplines across a wide range of legal fields, including business law, intellectual property law, employment law, and much more. No matter your legal needs, RRS’ attorneys and partners are eager to develop professional relationships and help solve whatever issues you may have. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you!