Whether you are running a new startup or your business is already well established, you should give serious thought to appointing a lawyer to represent you and your company should the need arise. You may not need legal advice now, but given the litigious nature of doing business in the 21st century, there is almost sure to be a time when you will. When that time comes, doesn’t it make sense to have someone on hand who you already know and who has an in-depth knowledge of you and your company?
Though a good corporate lawyer’s fees may seem like an unnecessary expense your company can ill afford, they could save you a small fortune, even in seemingly mundane circumstances. For example, if you are expanding and need to lease additional offices, warehouses or manufacturing space, a lawyer will thoroughly check through the relevant documentation and advise you on whether there are any areas of concern. Being tied into an overly restrictive five- or ten-year lease with no easy get-out clause may cost thousands of dollars, making the lawyer’s fees seem like small change.
In the case of startups, a lawyer will ensure the company’s legal structure is organized correctly and that when you begin to hire workers, their terms of employment are legally compliant. A lawyer will also be able to recognize issues before they can affect your business’ day-to-day trading. There may come a point when your company is called upon to write up legally binding contracts for clients or guarantees for a new range of products; in either case, a legal eagle’s input will be indispensable.
When looking for a reputable lawyer, never be tempted to use a friend; there may be situations in which it is better that your legal representative does not know too much about your personal life. Instead, ask friends, colleagues and family for recommendations. If that does not work, go online and search databases of legal firms in your area, narrowing it down to those with experience of companies in your sector.
Select a shortlist of candidates and contact them to arrange interviews. You should select a legal firm appropriate to the size of your business. A multinational may not be a good fit if you operate a small company; you will be an exceptionally small fish in a very big pond and such an organization is likely to offer a range of services you will never require but will be paying for via its fees. Conversely, if you operate on a global scale, a sole practitioner will be equally unsuitable; instead, you should consider employing a firm such as DLA Piper. The company’s COO, Bob Bratt, has worked there for over 30 years, during which time he has assisted members of Congress, the White House and various other national agencies. His work has been recognized by the presentation of the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, the President’s Meritorious Executive Rank Award and the President’s Council on Management Improvement Award.
Never be tempted to cut costs by trying to do without a good lawyer; instead, have the reassurance of knowing that at the end of a phone line you have your own lawyer ready and waiting to fight your corner.