Choosing An Attorney When you're getting ready to hire a lawyer, follow these tips for finding one that will work best for you.

At your initial conference with an attorney you'reconsidering hiring, take note of what the lawyer says and does, andlook for the following qualities:

  • Experience. Although it's not essential to find anexpert in your particular field, it makes sense to look for someonewho specializes in small business problems. And make sure thelawyer is willing to take on small problems-if you're trying tocollect on a small invoice, will the lawyer think it's worthhis or her time?
  • Understanding. Be sure the attorney is willing to leanabout your business's goals. You're looking for someone whowill be a long-term partner in your business's growth.
  • Ability to communicate. If the lawyer speaks in legaleseand doesn't bother to explain the terms he or she uses, youshould look for someone else.
  • Availability. Will the attorney be available forconferences at your convenience, not his or hers? How quickly canyou expect emergency phone calls to get returned?
  • Rapport. Is this someone you can get along with?You'll be discussing matters close to your heart, so make sureyou fell comfortable doing so. Good chemistry will ensure a betterrelationship and more positive results for your business.
  • Reasonable fees. Shop around and get quotes from severalfirms before making your decision. However, don't compareattorneys based on fees alone. The lowest hourly fees may notindicate the best value because an inexperienced attorney may taketwice as long to complete a project as an experienced onewill.
  • References. Don't be afraid to ask for references.Ask what types of businesses or cases the attorney has worked within the past. Get a list of clients or other attorneys you cancontact to discuss competence, service and fees.

Excerpted from Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up GuideYou'll Ever Need

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