Unfortunately, there are a number of ways new business owners may be sued. Violating a trademark, an injury on your premises or even the actions of an employee may see you in court. However, there is a really simple way to avoid the majority of lawsuits: by hiring a lawyer early on in your business.
The business litigation attorneys in San Diego at the Nakase Law Firm advise entrepreneurs not to make the mistake of waiting until you are sued to hire a business lawyer; they will have to waste precious time learning about your company. If you hire a business attorney in the early days of your company, then not only will your lawyer know your business inside and out, but they can put systems in place to reduce the likelihood of being sued because there will be little reason for a lawsuit.
On top of that, your attorney can help you with:
- Setting consumer policies
- Creating employment policies and practices
- Deal with employment disputes
- Create and negotiate contracts
But the trick to having low legal bills is not just about preventative measures; it is also about knowing when to ask your lawyer and when to take advantage of online advice and resources, according to business dispute lawyers San Diego businesses trust the law firm California Business Lawyer & Corporate Lawyer, Inc.
What To Contact Your Business Lawyer About
Your attorney will likely charge hourly rates for most services, meaning that if you keep seeking their help on trivial matters, your lawyers’ fees will be astronomical. Many lawyers prefer to save their time to help clients with serious or complex problems; therefore, they provide a great amount of general information about policies and laws on their website. As a general rule of thumb, check their website first to see if you can answer your question from the information.
Contact your business attorney for complex matters, decisions that could have legal implications, or if you believe there may be a chance of a lawsuit. Examples of scenarios where you should seek legal counsel include:
- You want to fire an employee who is a member of a protected class
- A company policy is being rewritten, and you want to run it by your lawyer to ensure it is legally compliant
- You are planning to terminate a contract and want your attorney to check the contract wording to ensure you can
- If the city has rezoned and you want to ensure the real estate you are considering can be legally used for commercial purposes
- You receive a cease and desist letter for violating a trademark, copyright, or patent
- A customer has an accident in your store
- An employee has contacted HR about workplace harassment, bullying, or discrimination, and you do not have a policy in place to handle that type of complaint
How to Find a Business Lawyer
The first step of finding a business attorney is identifying what you need help with. Yes, generally, you will need help with all legal matters, but you need to identify the main areas of your business and find an attorney with that skillset.
For example, a freelance graphic designer is unlikely to need a lawyer with employment law knowledge but will need someone with contract law and copyright law knowledge.
A franchiser may want to book a law firm with experience working with franchises and employment law. It will also be important to find a law firm with a number of locations across the country so that they have experience in the law of multiple jurisdictions.
As a startup, you need to think of your needs now and for the next 3 years. You will need a lot of support from an attorney with plenty of experience working with new business owners. Your business will grow and change a lot in its first 5 years, so you can always change lawyers if necessary in the future. You need an attorney that you can trust and who will take the time to explain the legal implications of your actions.
Once you have a list of criteria that you can use to inform your search, it is time to create a shortlist of potential lawyers.
Look on legal directories and perform a google search for lawyers in your area that specialize in your criteria. These may be:
- Small business lawyers
- Startup lawyers
- Lawyers for your industry
- Lawyers for your business model
- Lawyers with specific expertise (like intellectual property protection)
Do a little bit of research into what their skills are and the history of their cases. Consider reading reviews, but take their opinions with a grain of salt.
Another great way to find potential attorneys is to ask other small businesses who they work with. That way, you can get genuine opinions from other business owners.
Interview Potential Lawyers
Narrow down your potential business attorneys to a shortlist and then book a free consultation so you can interview them. Meet them in person so you can gauge their personality as well as their skills and experience. Here are some questions to get you started:
- Have you worked with small businesses in the past?
- Have you dealt with legal issues like XYZ?
- Are you willing to provide referrals when I need specialist legal advice?
- What are your preferred methods of communication?
- Do you foresee any conflicts of interest?
You should also prepare questions based on the criteria you prepared before searching for business lawyers.