When your business needs the services of an Attorney; you should carefully choose the right Lawyer for the matters you need to have handled. It’s really not a good idea to go to the Firm of Attorneys nearest to your Offices. This needs a cautious selection process. Look carefully at the nine points set out below. These might not be all the points you’ll end up checking, but they are probably the most sensible and business-like, reliably basic points for you to cover first.
1. Establish what types of matters your Company will need to have handled in general. Obviously, you’re not clairvoyant but, you should have a very good idea of what legal situations in which you’ll be needing legal assistance.
If your Company deals with property, then a Lawyer who is an expert in Family Law is not the right Attorney for your needs. So, the first thing you must do is to decide whether or not you need a specialized Lawyer; and if so, in what field or fields of law should they be specialized.
2. How long have they been practicing Law? Have they just started up and been operating for, say, a year or two? Or, are they already well established with over five years behind them? Or, are they a huge firm that’s been long established for, say, over 50 years?
This is important to know because it tells you if they already have a well-organized routine. It indicates whether or not they are already well known in the legal circles, in the local Courts and so on.
It’s so much easier when your Attorneys are familiar with the general procedures and are well known by the various officers of the Court, etc. You may not think this is essential but, in some cases, It’s not just preferable, it’s vital to the success of your case.
3. If the Law Firms you’re looking at don’t specialize in the matters for which you will need to get legal assistance, then, if the Law Firm is a medium to large size, do they have a section or department that does specialize in that area of law that will suit your Company’s needs?
You really must ask about the experience they’ve had in the matters you will be bringing to them. Clearly you’re not asking them to divulge any private information regarding their other clients, but you do need that personal reassurance that they have enough experience with the matters with which you’re concerned, to be able to assist you immediately without having to do a lot of research or without having to obtain the service of an outside specialist right at the beginning of your matter.
4. How do they bill? Is it an hourly rate per person, i.e. Attorneys, paralegals, etc, charging you by the hour? Will you be given a discount for repetitive work? How do they require to be paid? Do they need a retainer? If so, what size retainer.
Further, do they extract general payments from the retainer or do they hold the retainer in total, until the very end of your matter? What are their payment deadlines? How often do they invoice their Clients per month, etc?
You need to discuss in detail all the facts about their billing process and accounts in general.
5. How communicative will they be with your Company. You don’t want someone who is taciturn in their responses to you. The ideal situation is that your Attorney is fully communicative with your company. You need detailed situation reports as well as detailed accounts.
You should aim to be on the same page at all times with your Attorneys on the matters they are handling for you.
Further, when you need to discuss certain matters, you should feel your chosen Lawyer are interested in what you have to say and prepared to discuss the subject in complete detail with you without holding back on any point.
6. How compatible are they with your Company’s designated Managers/ Directors who will handle the legal requirements with the Attorneys?
Since they will be working together, in a manner of speaking, you need someone with whom you have mutual respect; people who speak ‘the same sort of language’; people with whom you feel comfortable; and people you feel you can trust.
On this particular point, because really Compatibility goes together with Communication and Honesty, it’s probably the best of ideas, once you’ve gotten your choices down to a short list of say two or three, then make an appointment and go and have a short meeting with all of these Law Firms in order to do the final assessing.
7. You need to find a Law Firm who will be honest with you. Wherein discussions over a matter they may say to you that you should try another route as what you suggest could be too expensive for what you need.
A firm that will save you money, in order to keep your business. This is not as rare as it sounds. You need to feel ‘safe’ to speak your mind – even if the message is a negative one.
You must feel free to give your honest input in the meeting and have that opinion received without any offence and dealt with, without any obstruction.
8. Many Companies are attracted by large, long established Lawyers; but what you need basically is availability and you don’t necessarily need a very large Law Firm for that.
You need a firm who will make time for you when you need it, and not a firm who’s list of Clients is so long and demanding, they have little time available for you. Hence, when you need to see someone in person, you have to wait.
9. It can be really frustrating when you can’t make contact with anyone at the Law Firm and you have to wait ages for them to return your call. Therefore, you certainly need to know what is their average response time.
Not suggesting that they intend to mislead you but, often people speak in hope. For example – you have to know their real average response time – not the time they would like it to be. Once you have all your information you can return to your office and make your deliberations ending in a final choice.
If you carefully read the foregoing, you will find that all the points you need to know are comprehensively covered and contained in the details above. However, you may have some personal points that you need to add, and that are particular to your matters.
Don’t hesitate to add them because if they are important to you then they will be significant to the way your legal matters are handled and therefore they must be discussed and agreed upon.
Some people think Lawyers are quite daunting – and a good many years ago they would probably have been right because seeing an Attorney in those days, meant trouble. However, the world has changed as, indeed has the Law and its application.
The modern way of doing things indicates that seeing the right Lawyer for you and your needs, could well mean a good thing for you. Indeed, we’ve learned a long time ago that it’s always best to instruct a professional than to try to ‘fix things’ for ourselves.
Usually, an Attorney will ensure the best possible outcome of an ‘iffy’ or difficult legal situation.
If you ‘do your homework’ and research everything as suggested above, you’ll be glad you did and who knows, it could be the beginning of a fortunate alliance for the Attorneys and your Company in the future!