Sooner or later, every business needs a legal entity to advise them on their legal rights and responsibilities, represent them in civil or criminal cases, business transactions, and other matters where legal help is essential.
A good legal entity might be all it takes to avoid the mistakes that could cause the downfall of a business. And for this reason, choosing the perfect legal firm to represent your business is of utmost importance.
Most large organizations hire a set of in-house lawyers to oversee all legal requirements. But startups and growing businesses might have to make do with the services of a law firm.
These days, there are hundreds of law firms coming up in every city. And it might be difficult getting one to deliver the top-notch services your business needs.
But, if you understand the legal needs of your business, and how to identify a good law firm, choosing one for your business shouldn’t be too difficult.
In this article, we’ll talk about what you should look out for when hiring a law firm. And the types of law firms that are out there.
So first, here are a few things you should look out for when choosing a law firm to represent your business:
1. Understanding your business needs
You need to understand the legal issues your business is most likely to face before choosing a law firm.
The reason for this is that most law firms practice in different legal areas. And you have to hire a firm that provides the legal services that your business requires.
The law firm you want to hire must have adequate knowledge and experience in your business industry.
You should be on the lookout for a firm that represents other companies in your space. It could be B2B, B2C, SAAS, e. commerce, or any other niche your business is.
This will allow them to give tailored legal advice and services. And help you through obstacles you wouldn’t even know were there.
2. Service track record
You want a law firm that has a proven track record of success. Ask about their results in and out of court. You might hope your business will never have to experience having a battle in court, but it’s good to have a firm that’s strong in court as they are outside court.
And don’t stop at asking and checking out their records. Ask for references to other clients they’ve worked for, and cross-check with their past clients. If they have an excellent reputation, there’s a high chance their other clients would also vouch for them.
Now, the question might be, “what of startups?”
Every successful law firm today was once a startup. And they became successful because a lucky client allowed them to showcase their legal genius.
If you’re looking at hiring a law firm startup, it must have successful law practitioners with experience in your space.
You should hire a law firm whose attorneys are licensed and certified to practice law. The attorney’s individual level of experience is also of equal importance.
Communication is important when hiring a law firm. This helps you stay cognizant of progress in your legal requirements and keeps you informed about legal rules and regulations.
An easy flow of communication between your business and the law firm it hires ensures the partnership is a success. And that your business goes in the right direction.
5. Terms of Engagement
Both parties must state and understand the contract between your business and the law firm it wants to hire. This would help you understand what services to expect and what not to expect. And also to prevent future scuffles between your business and the law firm.
An inside war will be bad for the reputation of both parties. As other law firms might avoid working with your business, and other companies won’t want to hire a law firm that gets into scuffles with its client.
6. Financial terms of the agreement
Will you pay by the hour or a fixed amount?
It’s smart to know this before hiring a law firm, so you don’t get a shock after seeing your bill.
You need to hire a law firm that fits into the budget you placed for legal issues.
Most law firms prefer to work with a monthly retainer, where you must pay for their services every month.
But, you should think of the amount of legal help you’ll need from the law firm before making a choice.
Also, you need to know if there are any other fees aside from the basic fees. Some law firms charge additional costs like filing fees, copy fees, and any other extra fees they can slap on your bill.
7. Will you be comfortable working with the law firm?
This is the most important. You should only work with a law firm you’re comfortable with.
Your gut gets to do all the work here.
If your gut says no, then don’t work with them. And if your gut says yes, then you could work with them if they ticked all other required boxes. Some companies, like Optimal Solicitors, have the no win no fee policy. That’s a clear sign they’ll do their best to help you.
8. Size of the law firm
The norm is that the size of your business should be directly proportional to the size of the law firm that represents your business.
But that’s not a necessity.
There are other factors to be determined when contemplating the size of the law firm you want to represent your business.
Your financial budget and the nature of your business also play a huge role in determining the size of the law firm that’ll represent your business.
The next section talks about the different types of law firms by size and service.
9. Types of Law firms
You now know what boxes to tick when choosing a law firm.
But, you should also know the different law firms there are. So you know which type your business might need.
Here’s a summary of the various law firms:
9.1. Solo law firms
A solo law firm is run by a single lawyer who often provides services in multiple areas of law.
It typically costs less to hire a solo practitioner and communication is usually top-notch. But, you might not get the level of expertise your business needs from a solo law firm.
Most times, solo law firms hire paralegals and other legal professionals to assist with the workload.
Depending on the size and legal needs of your business, a solo law firm might be the right choice for your business.
9.2. Small law firms
A small law firm can comprise of 2-10 attorneys. And they tend to offer very specific services. Although, most small law firms also take on generalized legal services.
Because of their size, small law firms charge reasonable prices. And are perfectly matched for small businesses.
9.3. Large law firms
You can identify a law firm with its characteristic multiple office locations and dozens of lawyers and employees.
The other employees that work in a large law firm are lawyers, paralegals, administrative staff, human resource specialists, and librarians among others.
Large law firms specialize in all areas of the law and work with clients from all over the world.
9.4. Criminal law firms
As the name implies, criminal law firms specialize only in delivering criminal-related legal services.
Attorneys from criminal law firms are very knowledgeable and skilled. And they are known to have a relationship with other local attorneys and prominent judges.
9.5. Transactional law firms
Transactional law firms specialize in transactional law. They are concerned with researching, reviewing, and drafting of contracts for business transactions.
Lawyers in transactional law firms’ work on making both parties involved in the contract come to a reasonable conclusion without going to court.
9.6. Litigation law firms
Unlike transactional law firms, lawyers from litigation law firms (also known as litigators) settle all legal issues in court.
To win a case, litigators try to prove that contracts were breached, and crimes were committed.
And, as much as their job is to settle disputes in court, statistics show that 95% of these cases get settled outside court.
No matter the choice you make, or the type of law firm you choose to represent your business. What’s important is that you invest in a law firm. And that you invest in one that supports the vision you have for your business.
The law firm you choose must be one whose legal fees reflect their value of service.
To avoid any legal disputes or hindrance to your business growth, the best thing to do is to hire a law firm.
Law firms are both preventive and curative solutions to legal issues your business might have.