Finding a business lawyer can be overwhelming. If your business is facing a legal problem and you are in the need of a lawyer, or if you are simply looking for a lawyer to help get your business set up properly, you might wonder where to even start the search.
Thankfully, there are many online resources that can be helpful for finding a business lawyer and tons of business lawyers out there who can help address the various legal needs of a business.
Step 1: Identify The Legal Needs of Your Business and What Type of Business Lawyer You Need
However, before jumping into a search, it is important to first get a good sense of why your business is in need of an attorney and whether your business even needs at attorney at all. Check out our post When do you need a business lawyer? for more information on how to determine when is an appropriate time to hire a business lawyer.
Once you have decided that you are in need of retaining a business lawyer, it is wise to then consider what specific legal needs your business is facing so that you can identify what kind of business lawyer can best help you. The reason this matters is because lawyers tend to specialize in different sub-categories of expertise and there are many different types of business lawyers.
For example, if you are at the early stage of setting up a business, it may make the most sense to search for a transactional business lawyer. If you are considering selling your business or acquiring another business, a lawyer who specializes in mergers and acquisitions may be particularly helpful. Alternatively, if you are responding to a lawsuit or need to file a lawsuit against another person or company, or if you are dealing with another kind of legal problem, a litigation business attorney who can represent you in court or settlement discussions and negotiations could be what you need. Maybe you are in need of a business layer because your company is facing immigration issues. If, for example, you think your business may be at risk because of the immigration laws, a better alternative would be an immigration lawyer rather than a business lawyer.
Step 2: Plan Your Approach to the Search for a Business Lawyer
There are many different approaches to finding the right business lawyer for the needs of your business. While there is no right or wrong approach, you can help narrow your search by deciding upfront if you would like to choose your business lawyer through your personal and professional networks, the referral of another lawyer, online legal directories, or a combination of approaches.
Step 3: Consider Personal Recommendations of Trusted Friends, Family, and Colleagues
One option is to source through your personal and professional network. You can guide your search based on word of mouth and personal recommendations of trusted friends, family, and colleagues. It is particularly helpful to seek suggestions from people you know who have experience hiring lawyers for business needs and who have had good experiences with the lawyers that they are recommending.
If you are seeking referrals from business colleagues, it is useful to seek out the advice of colleagues who are in a similar industry or have gone through similar legal issues and had a positive experience with their business lawyer.
Another approach is to plan your search based on the referral of another attorney or professional who you trust. If you already work with another lawyer who you trust on non-business matters, he or she may have a go-to business lawyer they trust that they can recommend to you. And if you already work with one type of business lawyer but need another type of business lawyer who specializes in a different area of business law for a specific matter, your current business lawyer may have a good sense of who is the expert in that new area you need support in within your region of the country.
Step 4: Online Legal Directories and Resources for Business Lawyer Searches
Online sources can be helpful as well for finding a business lawyer. If you have no personal or professional contacts who can recommend a business lawyer, online legal directories provide a great place to start the search according to your area. And even if you have some referrals for a business lawyer through your networks, online resources can be a good way to supplement your search and check reviews.
There are many legal directories online where you can search for a business lawyer in your area:
- The American Bar Association (ABA) offers org, a list of state bar associations and directories that provide lists of licensed attorneys, sometimes by specialty. The ABA also has a Lawyer Referral program, which shares public-service oriented referral services to help you find the right lawyer, and Bar Directories and Lawyer Finders.
- Findlaw provides a search for business attorneys. You can also search by location.
- S. News & World Report lists the best law firms, including firms with business law practices.
- Best Lawyers provides recommendations for attorneys often from large law firms.
- com includes a search for business law attorneys and a search option for particular business law issues.
- com has a search for a business lawyer through a lawyer directory. The website also offers free Q&A with attorneys.
- com includes a search of business lawyers by state.
- Rocket Lawyer offers the opportunity to ask a legal question online and get a response from an on-call attorney.
- Legalzoom provides legal consultations and a directory of attorneys who may be more suitable for small businesses on smaller budgets as compared to a large law firm.
You can also find online reviews for many lawyers, for example by past and current clients or even colleagues of the lawyer, on many sites.
In addition to searching for a business lawyer online, you can find lower-cost options to address business legal needs online. For example, websites such as BizFilings, Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom offer assistance completing business legal documents that may address your business’ legal needs if they are not complex. Depending on the circumstances of your business, it could be more affordable to use these tools rather than hire a business lawyer. That being said, it is always a good idea to consult a lawyer if possible because sometimes there is no way to know if a legal issue is more complex than it seems.
Step 5: Free Options
In addition to finding a business lawyer to hire, you can consider options for free business law support.
Many state and local governments have small business bureaus to support local businesses that can help new business owners with filling out forms, registering their business, etc.
There are also many non-profit organizations that provide small businesses with free legal services. For example, you may be able to find organizations that provide free business legal services for women or certain minority groups.
In some areas, there are business incubators available that will provide assistance to new or growing businesses, particularly in the technology and start-up fields.
Additionally, many essential forms that are needed to launch a business are available for free on the internet.
Step 6: Tips on How to Find a Business Lawyer That is Right for You
Once you find a handful of potential business lawyers that you would consider working with, you can weigh the pros and cons of each one.
After identifying some business lawyers who you think could be a good fit, you can ask to meet with a few of them in person. Consultations are a great way to learn more about an attorney. Most of them provide a free or low-cost consultation.
During the consultation, don’t be afraid to ask any question before committing to representation. For example, you can ask about their experience working with small businesses, expertise working on particular legal issues your business is facing, educational background, years in practice, notable publications and cases, and communication preferences.
You can also assess the communication style of the business lawyer and think about whether it meshes well with yours. For example, consider whether the lawyer is willing to take the time to outline various options and their pros and cons. Think also about whether you could see yourself building a rapport with the person and whether it is someone who you want to spend a lot of time with over the years, including during tough times in the business. Listen to your instinct: is this person someone you want to work with?
Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget asking about the billing fee structure. Do they allow for a flat, one-time fee or do they bill hourly? What is their flexibility on billing arrangements?
Finally, you may want to consider logistical matters such as the location of the lawyer’s office and the convenience of getting there.
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