You need a lawyer. By now you've already embraced that fact as a way of moving your company forward. However, you don’t know how to find the right small business lawyer for your needs. Obviously, asking a friend or business associate for a referral is the best first step you can take. Just because someone you trust recommends an attorney, doesn't automatically mean that attorney will be a perfect fit. Here's what you need to think about when interviewing potential business lawyers:
Fees: Clearly, you need to know how much your new lawyer is going to cost you. Will there be a fixed retainer or will they bill you by the hour? Is every quick phone call going to cost you big bucks? Yes, you should look for fair rates but keep in mind that a lawyer with a hefty hourly billing rate might be a better investment. That's because with experience comes higher fees. That experienced lawyer can finish an assignment in a couple of hours while the new lawyer might take several days. What would you be saving then?
Attention: As a small company you might have small issues to deal with at first. Will your new lawyer devote the same level of attention to your concerns as they would to a bigger company? They'll probably tell you that won't be a problem. Yet, if you discover you're not getting the attention you need then it might be time to change it up.
Return Call Rate: Coinciding with the amount of attention you'll receive will be the return call rate. How fast will your lawyer get back to you? If you're waiting a day or more then there are some problems you need to work out.
Patience: You're not a lawyer otherwise you could handle your own matters. Will your new lawyer have the patience to explain the legalese to you? You should never feel like you're asking silly questions and your lawyer should have the ability to walk you through complicated contract issues.
Focus: You'll be able to tell a lot about your new lawyer by the way they handle that first interview meeting. Are they constantly being interrupted by calls? Are they checking their Blackberry for emails? If they can't focus on a simple meeting how do you think they can handle the big stuff? Are you being too demanding asking for their undivided attention? Absolutely not. That's what you're paying for.
Excitement: You're not going into business with your lawyer but that doesn't mean they can't be passionate about what you're trying to accomplish. Are they excited to work with you? They should be!