How to Choose an Attorney

The following are some typical situations in which you may need an attorney.
* Company incorporation or partnership.
* Receipt of a contract.
* Threatened by a lawsuit.
* Need help collecting a debt.
* Need information regarding laws pertaining to your specific industry.
1.Hire An Attorney Who Understands Your Business
2.Use Referrals
3.Understand Your Bill
4.Negotiate a Billing Method
Hire an Attorney Who Understands Your Business
Be sure that your attorney understands the specific needs of your business.  When selecting a lawyer, feel free to ask questions regarding his/her experience with your specific type of business.  This will save you money in the long run because you don't want to pay for his/her "learning time."  If your industry has specialized regulatory legal requirements, be sure that your lawyer is familiar with them.  It is also important to find out what his/her specialization is, meaning you wouldn't want a family court lawyer handling your tax law.
Use Referrals
Referrals are the best way to find out about any services you might need, including legal services.  It is important to talk to other business owners in your industry, your banker, your accountant or any other trusted advisor.  You may try your local bar Association, although they cannot verify an attorney's specialty or experience.  The bar association can only guarantee that he/she has passed the bar exam.
Understand Your Bill
Attorney's fees can range from less than $100.00 per hour to over $300.00 per hour so be aware of how the attorney charges before your first meeting.  Also, be sure to ask if there is a charge for the initial consultation.  Don't be afraid to ask questions.  When you call for assistance, are you going to be charged for that time?  If so, how are these charges calculated?  Are there different rates depending on who works on your account - a lawyer versus a paralegal?
Negotiate a Billing Method
Most small businesses pay attorneys only when they need them meaning that if an attorney does two hours worth of work, then they pay only for two hours.  If you have an ongoing relationship, most attorneys will bill you monthly for your account.  Another option is to pay the attorney a retainer fee.  Retainer means that you pay a fee in order for an attorney to be available to do agreed-upon duties for your company on an ongoing basis.  In times of heavy litigation, your attorney will negotiate additional fees.  Remember that the more you do the less you will have to pay an attorney.  For instance if you need a copy of a tax map or previous year taxes for a property, get the information online or at the RMC office yourself.  Make any nonlegal phone calls yourself also.  In some instances it may be possible for you to prepare your own contract and then have your attorney review it.