Posted in Business Attorney, Business Law, Corporate Attorney, Corporate Law, Texas
Top 7 Questions to Ask Before Engaging a Business Attorney
Selecting corporate counsel for your business is an important decision – having the right advisor in your corner, who is not only a legal expert and a qualified attorney, but a true “counselor” as well, can be a critical component in protecting and growing your business. For an entrepreneur, a new business is a little bit like a baby – it can be fragile and needs care, but given the right protection and resources, can eventually become something truly amazing. Here are a few questions that you should ask before deciding on who you want to represent your “baby.” 1. Generalist or Specialist? You probably want a business attorney who is somewhat specialized. If your business is going to be making deals and contracts, you will want a deal lawyer; whereas if your business is going to be getting into disputes, you want a litigator. If your business is heavy into real estate, you want a real estate lawyer (and if it isn’t, you don’t.) If your business is heavy into intellectual property, you may want an intellectual property lawyer (and if it isn’t, you don’t.) You should ask your potential attorney what practices he or she actively carries on. If the answer is “well, I kind of do everything” it might be better to find someone a little bit more focused on your area. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” then you understand the point of finding someone with a bit more focus. Now, all of that isn’t to say that you should focus on finding someone who ONLY does ONE THING. Many attorneys have a secondary or tertiary unrelated practice area (for example, I also practice some Estate Planning Law – but I don’t litigate, I don’t practice family law, I don’t practice immigration law, etc.; my other areas of practice are all business-centric) By the way, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization does certify attorneys in various areas, but as of yet, there is not a specific certification for business law. 2. Who will REALLY be Working on Your Matter? It is, unfortunately, has become quite common in the legal industry to have a division of labor between “rainmakers” and “service attorneys” – which is an industry-insider way of saying, the lawyer that gives you the sales pitch, and has the big shiny resume, is not the lawyer who’s going to be working on your matter. You will get his or her associate or paralegal (who you may not have even met) for the lion’s share of the work, and you’ll only get the man or woman whose name is on the door, for a few minutes’ cursory review (if that). I encourage you to ask your potential business lawyer who will actually be working on your matters on a day-to-day basis. If it isn’t the person pitching you, demand to meet that person. Do you trust him or her? Do they seem smart enough, attentive enough, etc.? As I note on my hope page, I do not agree with this approach. My value proposition is simple:
- When you call my office, you will speak to me (unless I’m in a meeting, etc.)
- When you ask me the question I recommend above, about who will actually be doing your work, the answer is: I will.