What do businesses look for when hiring legal counsel?
For the business owners out there, what is the number one thing you look for in an attorney and/or law firm when considering whether or not to utilize their services? Price? Size? Experience? Prior relationship?
I'd have to say it's a toss up between honesty and transparency. There's too many people out here who pretend like things are more in depth than they really are just to charge a lot of money for little to no work and have every trick up their sleeve to keep the client feeling like everything is beyond their ability to read and understand for theirself. I understand there's a reason I'm hiring you, but when I see those tactics and games being played, it raises too many red flags.
I recommend my clients when starting and/or operating thier businesses that they should invite a well know attorney in the community to become part of their Board of Directors or at lest of their Advisory Board. In this case, when needed, you will come with answers about professional offices to hire. I go for experience to build up a lasting relationship.
May I ask your reason for asking the question ? Are you asking because you are in the legal business or because you want to market someone in the legal business ?
What is it you hope to gain from having your question answered ?
The answer to these questions will determine my ability to answer your question.
I hope this helps.
One should look at Experience of the Legal counsel in the type of business you are in and how they have faired in their prior relationship with other clients.
Nathan, I look for the industry or industries the lawyer or Firm works in for there practice. The next step is referrals to other peers of mine to know IF the work is, done with class, including the Honesty, Integrity and ethics. Once this is checked out, then I ask what type of pricing packages they have and what payment plans they have as well.
I hope this helps you and the company/firm.
Experience - in the same size and sector of business you are doing so they are not getting into areas they have no experience in.
In my experience, I have found best success with referrals from others who have used them. When I meet with the attorney I ask a number of questions, and how they answer (attitude and willingness) and the answers they provide assist me in making a decision.
1.) Does the attorney have recent experience with my type of business?
2.) Is my business too large/small for this attorney or law firm to handle? Sometimes attorneys will take a small business as a client, but then not deliver on the quality of service needed.
3.) How long has the attorney or law firm been in business? If a sole practitioner, who will asst them with my legal details?
4.) What honors or recognition has the attorney or law firm received? Have they been officially recognized by their peers?
5.) What is the attorney's reputation in the community? Has the attorney ever been reprimanded or disciplined by the State Bar?
6.) Does the attorney keep up with recent developments in law, business, tax, etc.by attending seminars and participating in workshops?
7.) How diverse is their areas of practice. If they focus more time/attention/resources on other types of clients/cases other than what I need them to do for me, then what happens if they get a client/case in their primary area of practice.
There are other questions I ask relating to what services I am seeking from this attorney. I look for practitioners who specialize in the field I need - tax attorney, employer workers comp attorney, employment attorney, contracts, investments/financing, etc.
Wishing you awesome and continuing success.
The ability to solve a problem in the most efficient timely manner as possible. The knowledge about the problem and the ability to give you to a counselor who can best advise you on your matter. Lawyers are people not Gods although some of them would like to think they are. Speak to them at a level that is factual, with proof and you will get further with them. It is always good to know what your retainer fee is paying for. Size of a firm doesn't necessarily mean you will get a good attorney. There are young attorney's out there who are hungry that can help you. Prior relationship is not necessary. Building a relationship is more important. Don't use someone else's recommendation. Build your own relationship with an attorney. All businesses should have a built in legal team. Never lie to your lawyer your accountant, your bookkeeper, your tax attorney nor your property manager. They cannot bail you out of trouble if they do not know how to defend a matter you got yourself into, before, during and after an event.
Honesty and loyalty
Expert in the area that you need him / her for.
Price, preferred related to outcome
In startups it most important your knowledge in IP angels VC and M&A - > networking
1- Expert, know what s/he's talking about, with strong ethics
2- Really wants to help, genuine
3- Flexible pricing and payment arrangements
References and referrals are always the number 1 choice to go. If it is an insurance related liability matter, I would check with your carriers for specific recommendations. Many of the carriers have pre-negotiated rates with law firms and will ask that you use these firms for the particular issue at hand.
Obviously I am not someone to whom you were directing the question, but I think the answer is trust. When you are hiring someone to provide a significant service (or a service at a significant price), you want to trust that the person is able to do the job to your satisfaction and will treat you appropriately. I think this holds true for anyone in the service industry (medical, insurance, law, IT, PR, etc.).
When we hire someone in a sophisticated service, we don't have the ability to compare two service providers and identify their skill level. Whether I am hiring a plumber, engaging a marketing company, or using an insurance broker, I'm looking for evidence I should trust (or should stop trusting) them. That evidence can include referrals, past experience with that counsel, past experience of that counsel, and feel for the person when I meet them. If I have multiple, comparable service providers that I trust, then I might start looking to price and complexity of the service.
What to look for in a lawyer? Hmmm look for whether he has been paid copious amounts of cash by you. Otherwise his advice is often useless and sometimes very costly. It's been 25 years since I had a competent, trustworthy lawyer and it's cost me untold millions in the interim. You ask what's most important - "Services? Price? Size? Experience? Prior Relationship?" Can you say Integrity? Whoops, I just realized - I'm utterly unqualified to answer this question.
Selecting legal counsel will be different for a start-up as opposed to a well established business. If you are just starting out as a new start-up company price becomes an important criteria, however its important to realize you may need to pay a little more. Remember not all lawyers are created equal. The first place I would start is with doing a little networking with some other start-up companies. Most entrepreneurs would be happy to share their experience and point you in the right direction. If you can find a well established lawyer who has had experience with start-ups that's the best place to start. It has been my experience that lawyers who are use to dealing with start ups have two fundamental advantages, they understand the constraints of cash flow and they are able to walk you through the up-front corporate documentation and due diligence that you will need to ensure your new company has the fundamental components for future growth and investment. Also lawyers who work with start-ups also generally are more willing to explain things in a little more detail.
The number one thing I look for in a professional advisor is someone whom I know (not know of, but really know as a consequence of face-to-face dealing) and trust in 3 dimensions : technical competence, delivery as and when promised, and 'intimacy', which I can best describe as 'knowing about'.
Price and size and vast previous experience are helpful, but pale into insignificance if I don't know them and trust them.
It depends on the kind of legal services I need and the strategy we're following. For simple contracts or things like initial trademark filings I want the lowest cost attorney who has relevant experience. If I'm responding to a threatened lawsuit I'll check out the legal weight of the firm of the attorney making the threat and probably seek a firm with equal weight - and vice versa -- if I feel the need to make the threat I'll consider who I'm threatening and seek weight accordingly.
But the number 1 thing is a track record of success in the legal area I need help with.
Expertise in your specific industry niche is the prime criteria I would look for. Its saves you a lot of time explaining your business, and your attorney has seen it all and can prepare you for the journey ---