How to Choose a Business Attorney

Business attorneys handle a wide array of business legal matters, many of which protect your money and protect your business from legal disputes. Therefore, it is important that any business hire a competent lawyer. Follow these steps to choose a business attorney.


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    Decide whether you want to go with a small or a large firm. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages:
    • Large firms (those with 10 or more attorneys and, in many cases, firms in more than 1 state) are likely to be able to handle all of your business's legal matters, without the need to send you to outside attorneys for specialized services. Large firms also have more clout in the business world, meaning they may be able to deter smaller disputes just by way of reputation and, as well, can often connect you to other useful business partnerships such as investment firms and venture capitalists. The drawback of choosing an attorney from a large firm is that you will pay for all of the advantages; however, if you run a large, fast-growing business and/or plan on expanding, it is a good idea to find a business attorney at a large firm.
    • Small firms may not house all of the specialties you need under 1 roof, and may not have the reputation and reach of a larger firm. However, they charge considerably less expensive fees than larger firms. If you are running a small, local business, a small firm may be able to sufficiently handle all of your needs.
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    Familiarize yourself with business law specializations. All business attorneys will fall into 1 of 2 categories (or may fall into both): litigation attorneys handle disputes and transactional attorneys handle out-of-court business matters. Additionally, there are a number of areas of specialization attorneys may earn proficiency in, and the more expertise your attorney has, the better.
    • Contract attorneys advise on and prepare contracts for customers, suppliers, partnerships, employees and any other type of contract you may need in the course of running your business.
    • Some business attorneys specialize in business organization. For example, you may need to decide whether to form your business as a limited liability corporation (LLC) or a corporation, and an attorney who handles business organization can guide you through the decision process, as well as draw up the necessary paperwork.
    • Real estate attorneys can help you negotiate terms on commercial property leases, rentals and purchases.
    • Your accountant should handle all of your tax forms, but a tax and licensing business attorney will be able to advise on the potential tax penalties and gains associated with any business ventures you are considering, and should also be able to prepare the paperwork and register for your tax identification numbers on the federal and state levels.
    • A specialist in intellectual property will be able to register, trademark and copyright your products.
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    Make a list of business attorneys you are interested in interviewing. There are a number of ways you may go about finding qualified attorneys:
    • Visit the website of the American Bar Association. There, you can find a wealth of information to help in choosing an attorney, from referrals to general information on a variety of legal questions.
    • Search an online attorney referral service like or for a list of attorneys who are qualified to handle your business needs.
    • Look in the telephone book to find attorneys, as well as both small and large law firms.
    • Ask friends, family, acquaintances and other business owners if they know of a good business attorney. Word of mouth and reputation are great indicators of an attorney's competence.
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    Conduct interviews with potential attorneys. When choosing an attorney, it is important that you gather specific information:
    • Find out exactly how much experience, and what type of experience, the attorney has handling clients with similar needs to yours.
    • Ask about the firm's referral process in the case of clients who need outside specialists.
    • The business attorney you choose should be knowledgeable in your specific industry, or should at least have the resources and express willingness to learn anything necessary about your business in order to best serve your needs.
    • Verify that the attorney is 1 that handles client work, as opposed to merely recruiting new clients for the firm.
    • Ask about fees and billing. There are different types of fee plans, including flat-fee, hourly, retainer and contingency. Discuss each of these options with the attorneys you interview, and find out how flexible they are in letting you choose.
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    Assess your feelings about the business attorneys you interviewed. You should be comfortable with the business attorney you choose—comfortable not only with the attorney's experience and competence, but also with your relationship with that attorney. Your attorney of choice should communicate with you in a way you can understand, and should be someone you feel comfortable communicating with.


  • Attorneys' personal websites are a great way to investigate potential attorneys before moving forward with the interview process. You may also be able to find client testimonials online, as well as confidentiality rankings from attorney directories.
  • Ask for a list of current clients for each business attorney you are considering. If the attorney is representing your competition and/or a business entity you could possibly end up in a dispute with, then it may not be a good idea to choose that attorney.


  • Don't put off choosing an attorney until you need legal representation for a dispute. While it is true that attorney services cost money, disputes can cost much more money. A good attorney will advise you on measures to avoid disputes before they happen.

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Categories: Business | Retaining a Lawyer