Business Lawyer Near Me
Business Lawyer Near Me: You may be facing a contentious issue with a breach of contract, or have a customer or client who has threatened to sue you.
As a small business owner, you probably don’t need a business litigation lawyer on retainer all the time – but when you do need one, time is of the essence.
To hire a business litigation lawyer, interview several prospects who have experience handling the type of case you face.
Compare these possibilities to find someone who will work well with you and your company to fulfill your goals and get you over the hurdle of litigation.
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Exploring Your Options
Ask for recommendations.
Colleagues in the same industry can provide information on any business litigation lawyers they’ve used.
If you’ve previously used a transactional attorney.
They also may be able to recommend someone strong on the litigation side.
- If your transactional attorney works in a firm that includes litigation attorneys, there can be benefits to using an attorney from the same firm – particularly if the litigation you’re facing involves a contract drafted by that transactional attorney.
- Recommendations from colleagues who recently were successful in a similar lawsuit also can have tremendous value, particularly if the size and scope of their businesses resemble yours.
- You also may seek recommendations from other professionals with whom you regularly work, such as accountants. They typically work with attorneys on a regular basis and can let you know who has a strong reputation and who you should stay away from.
- Keep in mind you still need to vet recommendations – even if your transactional attorney is recommending you use their firm’s litigation department – to ensure you’ve chosen the best possible business litigation lawyer for your business.
Assess the needs of your business.
Business litigation is a broad field, so before you widen your search you need to have a good idea of how the lawsuit affects your business what you want to come out of the litigation.
- Different business litigation attorneys specialize in different types of lawsuits. An attorney may be the best in your area at handling breach of contract cases but know very little about employee discrimination law.
- Different attorneys have different litigation styles as well. If you are being sued by a former employee and hope to reach a relatively collegial settlement, you don’t want to hire an aggressive attorney who will fight to win the lawsuit even at the expense of your relationship with your former employee.
- Your goals also will be different if you’re the one suing someone else as opposed to if you’re the one being sued.
- The attorney you choose also should be someone with experience working with businesses in your industry, so they can advise you on how the litigation could affect your bottom line, the reputation of your business, and your potential for growth.
Business Lawyer Near Me
Search online directories.
Your state or local bar association typically has a searchable directory of licensed attorneys in your area.
And this can be a good way to find strong contenders to handle your case.
- While this type of search casts a fairly wide net, it can help you identify particular attorneys or firms you should look at more closely.
- Focus on those who frequently practice in the jurisdiction where the lawsuit will be filed.
- For example, if you have an employee who has filed you in federal court for a violation of federal employee law, you need an attorney who has experience litigating in federal court – not one who specializes in state litigation.
- You also might want to limit your search, if possible, to attorneys who work with businesses in the same industry as yours.
- Many industries such as the construction industry have particular laws, and laws such as contract laws that apply to all businesses may be interpreted differently depending on the industry setting and the particular demands and challenges in your line of work.
Investigate each attorney’s background and experience.
Once you’ve collected a list of names of attorneys or firms you think might be able to handle your litigation.
Visit their websites to find out more about their specialties and courtroom achievements.
- The website can give you a good idea of the size of the firm or practice and where it is located. Looking at the size as well as pictures of the firm’s office may give you a general idea of how much you can expect to pay for an attorney’s services.
- Attorney and firm websites can be a gold mine of information about the background of an attorney, recent litigation successes, and court victories.
- However, keep in mind an attorney’s website is an advertisement – typically only positive information will be included, and clients listed as “representative” may in actuality be the most impressive, but not necessarily representative of the attorney’s client list as a whole.
- Don’t put too much stock in attorney rankings or “best of” lists. These frequently are voted on by other attorneys, many of whom agree to vote for one another or who vote for friendly colleagues and associates.
- Instead, seek out client reviews collected by independent organizations. If available, these can give you a true picture of what it’s like to work with that particular attorney.
Schedule several initial consultations.
Even if an attorney comes highly recommended by someone you trust.
You still want to interview at least two or three others so you can make an informed choice.
- Some business litigation lawyers provide free initial consultations.
- However, others will charge a relatively small flat fee of a few hundred dollars.
- An initial review of the attorney’s website should reveal whether they charge for initial consultations so you can build these fees into your budget.
- Try to schedule your initial consultations in relatively close succession, but make sure you’re leaving enough time between each one to go over your notes from the consultation and evaluate the attorney so you can keep them separate.
- Keep track of each attorney’s response time while you’re scheduling consultations, as well as the earliest date they’re available for a meeting. This can give you a general idea as to how busy that attorney is and how responsive they’ll be to you if you hire them.
Provide information in advance.
The attorneys you interview likely will need basic information about your business and the litigation you’re facing so they’re prepared to meet with you to discuss your options and what they can do to help.
- You typically should compile a prospectus that provides the attorney with general information about your business and its position in your industry. You may want to include any organizational documents if you’re a registered corporation or LLC.
- In some ways, you want to treat these initial consultations the same as you would treat a meeting with a potential investor. The attorney who will be handling your litigation should have an understanding of your business’s reputation and its plans for growth.
- Full background information about your business can help the lawyer accurately assess the impact of any lawsuits, and detailed information about your business’s finances provides the lawyer with the information necessary to evaluate settlements and the costs of protracted litigation.
Business Lawyer Near Me
Ask extensive questions.
For each interview, come armed with a list of questions so you can properly assess each attorney’s skills, attitude, litigation style, work, and communication preferences.
- In particular, you want to ask about the attorney’s work habits, including how they manage their workload and their basic communication style. Find out how frequently they communicate with their clients and how quickly they respond to client questions.
- You also want to find out what types of clients the attorney typically has, and where their particular expertise and experience lie.
- If the attorney will be working primarily with someone else on your leadership team, you should bring them along to the initial consultation, or at least solicit questions from them that you can ask.
- Your overall goal is to find an attorney who will fit seamlessly into your organization and handle the litigation with minimal disruption, so the questions you ask should be tailored toward achieving that goal.
Evaluate the atmosphere of the office.
However, staff in the best offices will have a sense of teamwork and camaraderie as well as a strong work ethic and attention to detail.
- Pay close attention to how the attorney you’re interviewing interacts with subordinates as well as other attorneys in the office.
- Avoid hiring someone who is rude or dismissive to other employees at the firm, regardless of their station.
- You also should watch the way the attorney interacts with you. If an attorney frequently interrupts you, ignores, or dismisses your questions, they may not fully respect your opinion or your position.
#*This could result in an attorney who doesn’t follow your wishes with respect to certain aspects of litigation, or who thinks they know better than you what would be right for your business.
Consider holding call-backs.
After the initial consultation, you may want to consider having attorneys come to your office to meet with other owners or managers and answer any additional questions.
- A second interview may have particular importance if you anticipate the attorney will be working extensively with other members of your leadership team.
- Particularly if you had questions about the attorney’s attitude or ability to work well with others, a second interview at your offices or at a neutral location can sometimes give you a better understanding of the attorney’s personality.
- Keep in mind that people typically act differently when on their home turf, in their own office where they feel comfortable and in charge, then they might in another setting.
Making Your Selection
Compare and contrast the attorneys you interviewed.
Set up a table or spreadsheet and evaluate the positives and the negatives of each attorney objectively to find the best attorney to meet your company’s litigation needs.
- Generally, you’ll want to compare relative knowledge, experience, track record, and cost. There may be other criteria you want to evaluate depending on the needs of your business and the type of litigation you’re facing.
- Keep in mind that even though your criteria are objective, your evaluation of each attorney often will be more subjective. Different criteria also may have different relative weights or priorities based on the subjective needs of your company.
Consult with your leadership team.
Depending on how your business is organized, you may need to consult with others before you hire a business litigation lawyer. Even if not required, you typically want to talk to anyone who will be extensively involved in the lawsuit.
- Particularly if there’s an attorney you favor, but who doesn’t perform well on paper against the others, this is something you need to discuss with others.
- If you have a significant disagreement with the way the attorneys you interviewed rank on paper, you may need to adjust your criteria to better suit your needs. Your partners can help you with this.
- You may want to reach out to attorneys after discussion with your leadership team if additional questions or concerns were raised.
Business Lawyer Near Me
Follow up with all attorneys.
Once you’ve made your decision, take the time to let each attorney you interviewed know as soon as possible so you don’t leave anyone hanging.
Talk to the attorney you’ve chosen first to preserve your options in case they can no longer represent you for some reason.
- Letting the other attorneys know that you’ve decided to go with someone else is an important professional courtesy and also may allow them to free up resources they had devoted to you in anticipation of gaining you as a client.
- Keep in mind that just because an attorney wasn’t right for you at this particular juncture doesn’t mean you won’t want to call on them somewhere down the line.
- For example, you may have decided not to hire an attorney because she had less experience with construction contract disputes than another attorney. However, she has the most experience in construction safety regulations, and you want to keep her name handy in case you face problems with that in the future.
Request a draft retainer agreement.
The attorney you’ve chosen to hire should be able to provide you with a draft retainer agreement that you can review and look over with other members of your leadership team if necessary.
- Read the agreement carefully and make sure everyone understands it.
- Schedule a meeting with your new attorney in your office so members of your leadership team can ask questions.
- Have the attorney explain the retainer agreement to you and your leadership team before it is signed, paying particular attention to what is covered by the retainer agreement, how often bills will be sent to you, and how costs will be accounted.
- At your initial meeting, your attorney also should explain the first steps that will be taken in the litigation. Time is of the essence, particularly if you have already received a summons and complaint.
- If you’re anticipating suing someone else, your attorney should be able to provide you with a rough timeline for the progress of the initial stages of the litigation.