Going Legal – How to Find & Work With an Attorney For Your Small Business

Deciding Whether to Go Legal

As a former full-time practicing attorney and now a small business owner, I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to the legal issues a business owner may face. This provides me with the distinct advantage of knowing when to call in an attorney for assistance, as opposed to using another professional, such as an accountant, financial planner, insurance agent, or business coach — or perhaps handling the matter myself. In addition, my background helps me to select an attorney that is the best fit for the business matter at hand. Many entrepreneurs have had limited experience deciding whether a matter needs legal attention and, if so, what type of attorney to retain, how to find the best match, and how to maximize the attorney-client relationship. As an entrepreneur, it is imperative that you understand when to “go legal,” and if you do, how to find and work with an attorney that is the best fit for your issue.

If you are confused about whether your matter needs legal attention or whether you can handle it yourself, try researching the matter on the American Bar Association’s Self-Help online center. Go to Public Resources, then Legal Help, and then Self-Help. The section is organized by state and is a user-friendly resource for determining whether a matter is complex and needs a legal expert, or whether it is something you can handle yourself.

In addition, a good business coach, especially one with a legal background, is a great sounding board to assist you in determining whether an issue is truly legal in nature, and if so, which type of attorney to retain. You would be surprised how many issues appear legal in nature, but turn out to be business decisions instead. So don’t be hasty when deciding whether to go legal!

Not All Attorneys Are Created Equal

So, assuming you have decided to “go legal” and retain an attorney, which one are you going to call? If you broke your arm, would you make an appointment with an allergist? If you had an ear infection, would you seek the advice of a surgeon? Of course not! Yet, everyday, many entrepreneurs contact and use attorneys to handle matters for their businesses that are completely outside the realm of what that attorney specializes in. Yes, attorneys specialize.

First, there is the main issue of whether your matter is civil or criminal in nature. Generally (and, thankfully!), the average legal matter an entrepreneur will face is a civil matter. Thus, you will be dealing with a civil attorney (hopefully in more ways than one). However, civil law is a huge umbrella. Typical small business matters may include incorporation, intellectual property (trademark, copyright, and patent), contract drafting and enforcement, employment or labor law issues, etc. Thus, look for an attorney that specializes in the area you need help with. Don’t be tempted to use your cousin, who is a residential real estate attorney, to assist you with a complex trademark issue. While this may be tempting in terms of saving money, it may (and often does) cost you more money in the long run if the matter is not handled properly. So match the attorney to the problem, and you are on the right track.

If you are unsure what type of legal issue you are even facing, speak up! Talk to a friend or business colleague that is an attorney, and ask his or her advice on the type of issue you are dealing with. You can also call the local bar association, or do some basic internet research to find out the area of law you are dealing with There are several sites that provide basic legal information for non-attorneys, such as Nola, FindLaw and at the Legal Zoom websites. This background research will arm you with enough terminology and basic knowledge to make the best match with an attorney whose legal practice covers the area of your business issue.

Finding an Attorney

So, now that you know the area of law, how do you find a good lawyer that practices in that area? The same way you find any other professional to assist you with your business. Referrals from friends, family and colleagues are a fantastic way to find a reputable attorney. You can also ask your local chamber of commerce, local law school, and local and state bar associations. Still can’t find an attorney that is a great match? Try Martindale-Hubbell’s Lawyer Locator online at http://www.martindale.com

Money Matters

If you’ve never worked with an attorney before, here are some basics of the legal profession with regard to money matters. Most attorneys charge by the hour, so ask what the hourly rate is, and an estimate of how many hours the matter may take. If the matter is small, or a typical one that the attorney handles often, there may be a flat fee for the entire transaction instead of an hourly rate. Be prepared to pay a fee for the initial consultation, which is standard, but not a hard and fast rule. In some cases, the attorney may require a retainer, which is money that you provide upfront that the attorney works off of as the matter progresses.

One thing to consider is that law firms are typically broken down into partners and associates. Partners are essentially co-owners of the firm, while associates are employees, albeit high level professional ones. Who demands the highest rates? Usually, the partners. Thus, ask yourself if you truly need a partner, or can an experienced associate handle the matter. Do you need the best litigator in the firm? Often times, the best litigator may be an associate that is still active in the courtroom, as opposed to a partner that may be more of a rainmaker bringing in business for the firm.

In some cases, for very small matters or legal research, even a law clerk or paralegal may do. Ask who is the best match, and don’t assume it is always the person whose last name is on the door.

Maximizing the Attorney-Client Relationship

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of accurate, concrete, and timely record keeping and documentation when preparing to work with an attorney, and during the relationship. An attorney will need to go on a fact-finding mission in order to best represent you and your business. Help your attorney do his or her job better by coming to the table with all of your ducks in a row. Be prompt in providing requested information, as often legal timelines are at play. Honesty is also vital when working with an attorney. The best attorney-client relationships are built on mutual trust and, thus, withholding information can make or break your case. An attorney needs all of the facts in order to make tough decisions with you about the best course of action for your business matter.

How to Find a Reasonably Priced Bankruptcy Attorney?

If you are facing bankruptcy you are probably experiencing severe financial problems. The last thing you want is to incur more expenses. You may be thinking that you would not even need a bankruptcy attorney if you could afford to have one in the first place. However, one of the expenses you should never cut back on is a good bankruptcy attorney. The field of bankruptcy is a complicated one with many minefields. You cannot go without the expertise or skill of a good bankruptcy attorney during this process. There are far too many opportunities to get something wrong and destroy your entire case. You will be much better off if you hire a bankruptcy attorney. What is complicated for the every day man and woman on the street is a daily activity for bankruptcy attorneys.

How Much Does a Bankruptcy Attorney Cost?
There is no fixed fee for a bankruptcy attorney so it is impossible to predict exactly how much you will have to pay your attorney. There are many things that determine the fees (continue reading to learn more about them). But, it is possible to make a general estimation of how much you should expect to pay. Note that the fee that you pay is for his or her service and assistance. It is not the total mount that you will have to pay for the entire process. For example, when you file for bankruptcy you will have to pay a filing fee. For now, you can pay something from $800.00 to $2,000.00 in case your case is a normal one.

What Determines Bankruptcy Attorney Fees?

– Location:
The area in which you find a bankruptcy attorney will greatly determine the fees that you have to pay for his or her services. For example, if you hire an attorney in the Upper East Side of Manhattan you will have to pay more attorney fees than someone who hires an attorney in Brooklyn which is a cheaper area of New York City. If you live in an expensive area you can save on the fees by hiring an attorney from a different location. Just make sure that the attorney you hire has experience in the court in which you are filing as procedures sometimes differ from court to court.

– If you want to save money on bankruptcy attorney fees you should talk directly to the attorney that you are interested in hiring. Firstly, only the attorney will be able to tell you exactly how much you will have to pay for their services. Also, many attorneys are willing to negotiate their fees. If you are in a very bad situation you can use this to show the attorney your financial limitations and have them bring down their fees for you. Note that if your case is a very complex one it will be harder to renegotiate attorney fees as your case will not be run of the mill and will require more time and expertise on the part of the attorney. They too have financial responsibilities.

– If you really do not want to pay a large amount of bankruptcy attorney fees you should consider hiring an attorney who has just completed his training. Their fees will be significantly lower than an attorney who has had many years of expertise handling different kinds of bankruptcies. However, only hire an inexperienced attorney if your case is fairly standard and will not be a challenge for them. If your case is a complex one, you cannot take the risk of hiring someone inexperienced who could mess things up for you.

Choosing an Ohio Child Support Attorney

Choosing an Ohio child support attorney can be a significant decision for any individual to make. The professional who you engage will be responsible for getting or maintaining your legal interests in your children, your material possessions, and your income. In reality, engaging an Ohio child support attorney might be a significantly difficult experience. Do it right and you can relax. Do it incorrectly and you may have to spend quite a bit of time recovering from losses that might have been avoided.

There are some time-tested tactics that you should consider applying at the time you engage an Ohio child support attorney. Prior to starting, you had better determine the type of case that you will need to retain counsel for. Could you be mediating your child support matter? Could you be negotiating? Or, might your lawsuit might be the type of matter that ends up in court and turns into a knock down, drag out child support battle?

It is possible to find an Ohio child support attorney who specializes in these different means of addressing matters and you need be sure that you hire the kind of Ohio child support attorney who is best suited to the kind of lawsuit that you will be dealing with. If you are about to confront a bitter battle, you should not select a mediation attorney to enforce your rights. And, if you are undergoing amicable mediation, the last thing you want is an Ohio child support attorney who will create problems for you and force you into litigation.

Thus, the first thing you must do in the process of hiring an Ohio child support attorney is to decide the type of lawsuit that you have. The second step, ask other people for assistance. Since the rate at which we divorce in the U.S.A. remains at about fifty percent, it is probable that you know a few other individuals who have experienced a child support suit. Inquire about their litigation, how they picked out an Ohio child support attorney, and how their attorney did on their behalf.

Subsequent to receiving feedback on several Ohio child support attorneys that you were given from checking with people, go on the internet and research each attorney and any others that you discover online. If an Ohio child support attorney has a site online, you can read it and check to find out if there are any articles on their site that they composed on child support law. You should likewise check and determine if they have promoted their website on the web on the issue of child support law. You can find quite a bit of significant information about how any individual attorney approaches legal actions and deals with their clients by screening their website.

After you have studied the Ohio child support attorney websites, compile a list of a few Ohio child support attorneys who you think you might be at ease speaking with. Contact the office of each child support attorney and schedule an initial interview/evaluation. A few of those attorneys will charge a fee for an initial appointment; the greater experience the attorney has, the more probable that you will have to pay for time with that attorney.

At the time that you go to an initial interview with any Ohio child support attorney, be ready. Write up an statement of your years of marriage, your family situation and the troubles facing you at present. If you or your mate has filed any documents in court, make it a point to take them with you. Take recent income tax returns or a recent financial statement so that the child support attorney can look at some of your financial information prior to being questioned regarding situational “outcomes”.

Be sure you ask every Ohio child support attorney questions regarding how that professional’s office manages client phone calls, emails or other questions. If you will be going through a child support attorney who has no other attorney in their office, be ready to wait on those occasions when you want a reply. That attorney probably has additional clients who have demands just as critical as yours, and any attorney can take care of only one client at a time. Even regarding that drawback, there could be an Ohio child support attorney who you sense is appropriate for your situation who is also a sole practitioner. That is a trade-off that you should be able to work with.

After you have finished each appointment and considered the answers to all of your questions, identify which Ohio child support attorney you are more at ease with and which you believe will work with you to get the sort of final result that you desire.