If you are starting a business, you are dealing with law. And if you are dealing with law, you need a lawyer. While businesses may view hiring a lawyer as an unnecessary expense, a lawyer serves as a layer of protection shielding you from angry clients, the IRS, and the government. A lawyer can save you money over the long term as they can help you navigate the bureaucracy, avoid pitfalls when it comes to matter such as intellectual property or regulations, draft business contracts, and conduct other necessary legal functions.

But there is more to hiring a lawyer than just Googling “business lawyers” and calling the first one who comes up. Here are a few things to consider for when you might need a lawyer as well as how to hire one who fits your business.


  • Note what areas you can handle by yourself


While a business lawyer is absolutely critical for certain aspects of your business, you can save money by handling some legal affairs yourself. Some examples as noted by the Small Business Administration include naming your business and creating buy/sell agreements. If you are not confident, then you could rely on alternative services like LegalZoom.

So what are some areas where you absolutely need a lawyer? Protecting your intellectual property and getting patents is one area where you should have a lawyer. I have witnessed businesses and individuals struggle for years in order to go through the paperwork, pay the fees, and fight to get a patent even with the aid of an attorney. Otherwise, you can keep a lawyer on retainer and talk to him if you are unsure about any legal questions. It is better to be safe than sorry.


  • Tap into professional connections


Your professional network is always your best avenue for hiring employees and a business lawyer is no exception. Ask fellow businessmen what attorneys they use and what they think about them. Do not just ask for a good lawyer. Find out what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how much experience they have. Depending on how big your business is, you may not actually want the most experienced lawyer available. A younger, cheaper lawyer may be better if you simply need help with drawing up contracts and avoiding sudden legal surprises.

Above all else, try to figure out what fields they specialize in. For instance one lawyer might be a personal injury specialist, while another focused more on corporate law. No single lawyer can handle every aspect of running a business. Figure out what areas of law you probably need the most in and get a lawyer with the appropriate skillset. Your lawyer will likely have colleagues who can help him in other areas of business law, so do not worry about being deficient in any particular area.


  • Hold Interviews


This should seem obvious, but there is more to hiring a lawyer than his skills. You want a lawyer you can trust and whose personality does not clash with yours. Furthermore, a lawyer should be willing to teach you some legal tricks so that you can handle more legal issues without having to depend on him.

Consequently, take care to interview for your lawyer just like you would hiring for any other position. See what connections he has and who he would contact if he is confronted with an area outside of his expertise. Gather multiple candidates for your business lawyer and then select one.


  • Discuss business connections


It is not enough to get a generic business lawyer. Every industry has unique factors and regulations which a lawyer has to take into account. Therefore, you have to make sure that the lawyer actually has experience in your field of business.

Using your professional connections as noted above should ensure that your lawyer has connections to your business, but do not hesitate to grill them to figure out what they actually know. A bit of aggressiveness early can save your business from getting a lawyer who does not know enough about your business.


  • Figure out billing in advance


This is the most important issue of all, and you do not have to necessarily pay lawyers an hourly rate. Entrepreneur has a good list of ways in which you can pay a lawyer, ranging from the standard hourly rate to a flat fee to a retainer.

Getting a flat fee is the best payment scenario, as it ensures that you know what you are paying your lawyer and are not surprised by additional hours. But while some lawyers may be willing to go with flat fees, they do not like to do so because they can be delayed by legal intransigence from others. Lawyers will thus rarely bring up flat fees themselves, but they may be willing to listen if you make them an offer.

Do not hesitate to pay a bit more for flat fees if a lawyer is willing, and definitely try to get one when it comes to more mundane legal affairs like drawing up a contract. But above all else, make sure that your business and the lawyer have a clear understanding about billing.

Author's Bio: 

An internet entpreneur.