What legal services can an attorney provide your business?
- Select and implement your legal form of business organization
-LLC: understand the benefits and limitations of this form of legal protection
-Multiple member LLC or partnership: draft operating and buy-sell agreements between partners
-Sub-S or schedule-C corporation: draft corporation buy-laws, buy-sell agreement between shareholders
- Assist in obtaining necessary registrations, licenses, permits, trademarks, patents
- Coordinate the resolution of your business legal and tax issues with your personal estate plan and finances. Maintaining legal separation between business assets and personal assets is a difficult challenge for a small business and requires legal advice.
- Review all legal agreements: insurance policies, loans, leases, mortgages, contracts
- Review the legal ramifications of any new activity: franchise, acquisition, joint venture
How can you find a small business attorney?
Personal referrals: business associates, friends, small businesses in the same field
Cincinnati Business Courier: annual listing of largest law firms by number of attorneys
Cincinnati Magazine: annual listing of “Super Lawyers”, by specialty
Bar Associations: Local bar associations take various approaches to lawyer referral
- The Cincinnati Bar Association, 381-8213, has two resources: “Lawyer Referral Service” where you request a lawyer by area of law and describe your legal problem; this lawyer will then charge you $50 for the first ½ hour of consultation and “Find A Lawyer”, where lawyers pay for a photo and a specialty listing.
- The Northern Kentucky Bar, “Lawyer Referral System” where you will be contacted after applying on-line and will be charged for an initial meeting at the lawyer’s discretion.
- The Butler County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service, 896-6671, has lawyers who agree to provide a half-hour consultation for $30.
- The Dayton Bar Association, 937-222-6102, has two resources: “Lawyer Referral Service” where you request a lawyer by area of law and describe your legal problem; this lawyer will then charge you $35 for the first ½ hour of consultation and “Find A Lawyer”, where lawyers pay for a photo and a specialty listing.
Choosing an attorney – find one that fits and set the right expectations
When you call an attorney for an appointment, ask if they will charge a fee for the initial consultation.
Ask the attorney how much experience they have handling legal issues similar to yours. If the attorney is unresponsive, continue your search until you find an attorney with that experience..
At the conclusion of your first meeting, the attorney should outline a plan of tasks to be performed and provide a reasonably accurate budget of those legal services at an agreed upon hourly billing rate for the attorney. An engagement letter is often used by the attorney to confirm and communicate these fee arrangements, and serves as a contractual agreement between the parties. The lawyer may request a retainer, an advance payment for services. As work proceeds, you are entitled to an accounting of how this retainer and all future fees were spent.
Ask the attorney when they can begin work on your matter, how long it may take to resolve your situation, how they handle client communication (e-mail or phone), and how quickly they will respond to questions or issues that arise.
Tips on receiving the most value out of meetings with your attorney
- Be prepared when you meet with your attorney. Write a brief summary of the legal issue you have and ask what documents you should bring to the meeting. Valuable time and money will be wasted with inadequate preparations.
- When you meet with your attorney, be forthright about your business. Remember, information you provide your attorney is confidential and protected from disclosure by attorney-client privilege. An attorney needs to know everything about your business and personal situation before he can develop the correct legal solution to your problem.
- Ask the attorney how you can best be involved in compiling documents and evidence. Valuable time and money will be wasted if you are not adequately involved.
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