Whether you’re running a small business or a successful start-up , one of your biggest fears is probably getting sued . No matter how carefully you conduct your business, a wrong step or a deleterious hiring can quickly come to haunt you.
The best way to protect yourself against future legal problems is to invest time and resources in finding a good business lawyer .
A good business lawyer is a true partner. It helps you through tough times for your business. They can also provide you with legal services and advice (drafting agreements, fundraising, managing employment issues, legal proceedings, etc.).
The good news is that hiring a business lawyer isn’t necessarily going to strain your budget. On the other hand, it can help protect you against costly legal hassles. So how do you know if you need a business lawyer? And above all, how to find and choose the best lawyer specializing in business law ?
Step 1: Determine why you might need a business lawyer
The best time to hire a business lawyer is before you need one.
Here are some common situations where start-ups should consider hiring a business lawyer :
The choice of the status of the company: the choice of status has an impact on the possibilities of future development of the company. A lawyer specializing in business law will be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each status and help you choose the best one.
Fundraising : to raise capital and sell shares to investors, it is wise to call on a business lawyer specializing in stock market law.
Drafting agreements between partners: If you are going into business with partners, defining the rights and responsibilities of each can avoid later disagreements. A lawyer can help you draft partnership agreements and articles of association.
Contract drafting : A lawyer can help you negotiate favorable contracts.
Employment issues: When a company’s workforce increases, business lawyers often step in to help with employment law compliance .
Step 2: Find business lawyers through your network, a legal aid site or legal directories
The best way to find potential business lawyers is through your personal or professional network. Indeed, having a recommendation from a trusted friend, family member or your accountant can be invaluable.
Also, you can use online legal directories to find business attorneys near you.
Legal aid sites such as Find your lawyer or Lebonavocat are particularly useful resources for finding a business lawyer . These sites offer lists of lawyers, as well as opinions on them.
It is advisable to read the reviews of any business lawyer that you find online.
Step 3: Compare the competing lawyers
After selecting the business lawyers likely to accompany you, the next step is to meet with them all, in order to ask them a few questions. Most attorneys offer free half-hour or hour-long consultations to meet potential clients.
If possible, prefer an in-person consultation. The fact that a lawyer offers you a meeting indicates that he values your business and is willing to take time for you.
During the consultation, we advise you to ask the following questions. They will help you choose the best lawyer for your business .
What are your experiences working with small businesses and/or start-ups?
The experience of a business lawyer with small businesses is very important, especially in terms of budget. A lawyer who usually works with CAC 40 clients will probably be unaffordable. He might also prefer more contentious ways of resolving a case, as opposed to more cost-effective methods of resolving disputes.
Can you recommend other lawyers if necessary?
Most good business lawyers pride themselves on having a large network. They will therefore be able to refer you to another lawyer if you need help with a matter that is outside their area of expertise.
The worst lawyers will avoid recommending you, because they don’t want to lose clients. Make sure you know your future lawyer’s position on this.
Who are the people who will work with you on my issues?
Lawyers always work with several people (partners and legal assistants). Since a lawyer’s time is limited, he often entrusts part of his work to his associates.
Ask him if it is possible to know the qualifications of his associates and to meet them in the event that you choose to become partners.
Do you have any conflicts of interest with my company?
This is one of the most important questions, especially if a business lawyer works closely with several companies in the same sector.
Suppose you have a contract dispute with a local supplier. If the lawyer you have chosen represents this supplier, he may not be able to represent you without creating a conflict of interest.
How will you communicate with me?
Like any professional, every lawyer has different communication preferences. Some attorneys prefer face-to-face meetings and phone calls for quick questions. Others prefer to communicate by email and use electronic signature software.
If you have a busy schedule, make sure that your future lawyer offers communication tools that work for you and that will save you time.
This is probably the most important question you will ask your future lawyer. Keep in mind, however, that “cheaper” does not necessarily mean “better”. More experienced and successful attorneys often charge higher fees.