hire a business attorney

Mistakes Business Owners Make Hiring A Business Lawyer


Written by Gregory L. Phillips, Founding Partner

Written by Gregory L. Phillips, Founding Partner

Written by Gregory L. Phillips, Founding Partner

Mistakes Hiring A Business Lawyer

5 Major But Common Mistakes Business Owners Make When Hiring A Lawyer

As a business owner, hiring a good attorney is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. A good business lawyer will not only make sure you stay out of legal trouble, but he or she will help your business operations run smoothly. Knowing an expert is handling your contracts, intellectual property, taxes, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, whatever your business needs on the legal side of things, will give you peace of mind and ensure no unnecessary obstacles pop up that would impede your growing business.

That said, hiring a business lawyer is easier said than done. Many business owners make the same mistakes when looking for an attorney to represent their business needs. We’ve listed six of the most common mistakes below. Avoid these, and you will avoid hiring the wrong legal counsel.

Houston Business Attorneys

"If you’re a business owner, it’s not a matter of if you hire a business attorney but when."


5 Mistakes Business Owners Make When Hiring A Lawyer

1. Hiring a business lawyer when it's too late.

Don’t wait until you desperately need a lawyer to hire one. If you are being sued, you will need legal representation as soon as possible, but once you’ve been served, it’s too late. There’s no reversing the complaint. However, having general counsel already on your side could prevent you from being sued in the first place. Excellent business attorneys know the common pitfalls of new business owners and can help you navigate around them. You won’t have to worry when the complaints come knocking at your door because they never will.

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2. Failing to negotiate a proper fee.

Today, business lawyers are more creative with their billing. You don’t have to pay an attorney by the hour for each job he or she does. You can negotiate a flat fee for certain projects or time frames. Lawyers understand that business owners are concerned about their financial investments. Because of this, most business lawyers want to make sure you know they are worth that investment. Ask a business attorney upfront about the different types of payment options.

3. Hiring the resume, rather than the business lawyer.

It’s easy to be dazzled by a resume. A good education and experience at a top law firm may tempt you to hire that attorney right away. But more important than knowing a lawyer’s resume is knowing the lawyer herself.

What is her work style like?

Her personality?

Will she fit with the culture of your company?

Does she work well with others?

Does she respond promptly?

These are crucial details about a potential lawyer that are often overlooked and overshadowed by a fancy resume.

But hiring the perfectly educated, perfectly experienced business lawyer who you can’t stand talking to on the phone, or who avoids your calls, or who doesn’t get along with your employees will not be worth it in the end.

Know what kind of business lawyer you’re looking for from a personality standpoint and resist the urge to hire the resume.

4. Hiring a friend or family member to represent you.

A friend or family member who is a business lawyer is low-hanging fruit in your search for an attorney. It will be tempting to speed up the hiring process by hiring this person instead of interviewing dozens of others. However, rarely does this serve a business well.

When you’re hiring a business lawyer, you’re looking for an impartial party, someone who will tell you when you’re in the wrong and how to make it right. Friends and family members tend to be on your side, which is great for your personal life but not for your work life. They can be blind to major problems and cause you more legal trouble in the end.

Instead of calling on your old college buddy to represent you, get recommendations from other business owners you know.

Who have they worked with?

Did they like this person and why, or why not?

Starting there, rather than from your own address book, will ensure you hire a business lawyer with solid recommendations who doesn’t attend your annual Thanksgiving.

5. Only hiring from the big law firms.

Similar to a good resume, many business owners are easily enchanted by the biggest firm in town. While big firms can cover the bases as far as different types of law and what you need done for your business, they are more expensive. And if you’re a smaller business, they may not prioritize you since they have larger clients to deal with. A small or midsize law firm can offer specialized care, expert legal counsel, and potentially quicker response times. In addition, their overhead is lower, so they will be more affordable. We’re not saying one is better than the other, but a larger firm does not always mean better for your business.

If you’re a business owner, it’s not a matter of if you hire a business attorney but when. When you do, which should be sooner than later, avoid these common mistakes and you’ll find much more than a good lawyer; you’ll find a team member who is invested in your business and committed to its growth.


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