By Anna Coward, Advisor at Ravenna
There comes a point when every business needs legal advice beyond the basics. Talking to a lawyer for the first time can be a daunting prospect but with some planning you can ensure you get the best results for your business.
The Initial Chat
The single most important factor in getting the best out of your lawyer is taking the time to have an initial chat (before you formally hire and start paying for them). Find out how – and if – they can help; you want to get an idea of the process, fees and, importantly, the fit for you and your business. Give them as much information as possible about your legal issue and your business in general and then find out a few things about them and their law firm.
What Can They Do For You?
Ask the lawyer if they have worked for businesses like yours in the past? Ask for examples of work they’ve done for businesses of a similar size and set-up to your own, as well as work they’ve done within your industry. When you talk about your business and your legal needs, a good lawyer with the right experience should both listen and ask relevant questions. Lawyers for any business should have a broad commercial view on top of their own specialisms, balancing the detail of your business with the bigger picture.
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How Will It Play Out?
It’s also useful to find out who you’ll be dealing with day to day and when – and how – your lawyer will communicate with you. If you’re someone who’s often out and about, you might want a lawyer who arranges meetings over WhatsApp, rather than a more formal ‘speak to my PA’ set-up. Think about how you work best and ask the lawyer how they’d work with you.
Instinctively, if you’ve got a pressing legal issue, you want the best lawyer you can get. Practically, though, you only want to pay for their expertise at the right times (i.e. for their legal mind, not their admin). For example, some straightforward contractual work could be done by a junior member of the team, but you might need a more experienced partner to advise on and negotiate the terms. So don’t be afraid to talk about the balance of work, who’ll be doing it (and when), and how you’ll be billed.
For any legal work, you want to make sure you’re paying the right price, not the cheapest price. But you do have a right to know what you’re paying, as well as what you’re paying for.Make sure you get a written estimate that clearly sets out what’s involved. Ask what different fee structures are available, for example a straight forward set of terms and conditions for your website could potentially be done for a fixed fee. Throughout the process a good lawyer should keep you up to date on the level of fees being incurred and let you know if they are getting close to the feeestimate. There should be no ‘invoice surprises’ at the end of the transaction.
If after the initial chat you’re not happy or the lawyer hasn’t answered all your questions properly then don’t be afraid to tell them they’re not the lawyer for you and find another lawyer instead.
We take the guesswork out of finding a lawyer for your business. We know the UK’s law firms and we’ll help you find the right lawyer for yours. Find A Business Lawyer | Ravenna