8 min read

How to Choose the Right Lawyer or Business Consultant for Your Small Business


Bruce Burk
Business Consultant and Corporate Attorney
Contributor
legal advice lawyer
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Many times, small business owners are skilled in a particular area and have figured out a niche that will help them make a living. In the course of creating a company, an owner will quickly realize that there are a lot of complex legal and financial issues which draw them away from their craft. This is why having the right lawyer, or business consultant can help assist you with these complex legal issues. However, many small business owners have never interacted with a lawyer or a business consultant before, and it can be a daunting task.

Lawyers and business consultants come in all shapes and sizes. Lawyers are like doctors in the sense that many lawyers have specialties. Consultants also have different specialties, but business consultants will advise on how to help your company grow by things like a web presence, marketing, and branding. Whereas a lawyer can assist with helping you choose the right type of business. In addition, consultants are going to take your idea or plan and help you get seed funding, whereas a lawyer is going to help you get all the licenses you may need and comply with regulations.

Word of Mouth

The best way to find an attorney or business consultant is by word-of-mouth. Good consultants and lawyers are usually busy and have many clients to deal with. However, if you pick a lawyer through a friend or family member, that lawyer will likely give you more attention because they will see it as a favor rather than just another client. The more attention that a consultant or lawyer gives to you the better your affairs will be managed. For this reason, you should begin your search by contacting your friends and family members and asking if they know any good lawyers or business consultants.

Online Search

If that does not work, the next step would be to try searching online. For lawyers, you could go to websites such as Avoo, Nolo, or lawyers.com. For business consultants, you could try websites like Upwork, Consulting Quest, or Toptal.com. You could also try doing a general Google search and looking for what is available in your specific country. However, I want to emphasize that this is not ideal because it is better to work with someone you have a relationship with or are familiar with.

Local Associations

Another way to search for an attorney or business consultant is by local associations. For lawyers, you would check with the local bar association. Nearly every country has one and this is the group lawyers join to gain relationships. For consultants, I would check the local chamber of commerce. These organizations typically have meetings geared towards business formation and you may just run into a consultant if you attend one.

Consulting Agreement

This Agreement is concluded between the Consultant and the Company.

Conduct Your Own Investigation

It is also completely acceptable to conduct your own investigation in order to find the best one for your needs. Do not be afraid to speak with multiple lawyers and multiple business consultants before you hire one. You can run a background check on them to make sure they are who they say they are. For lawyers, you can review their profile on the state’s bar association website. For consultants, you can check the Better Business Bureau and see if anyone has said anything about them. For both, you can check online reviews to see if anyone else has been satisfied with their services. 

Willingness to Strike a Deal

When you hire an attorney or business consultant, you want to establish early on whether or not he's going to give you a deal with respect to the representation or if he is going to treat you as a method to enrich their bank account. When you personally know your consultant or lawyer through a family member or friend, they are less likely to see you as just another way to make a fee. Feel free to ask to review their billing methods. Establish a process by which you can contest monthly charges to make sure your lawyer or consultant is not there to nickel and dime you.

Referral Service

You may be able to find both lawyers and business consultants through the use of a referral service. Lawyers have referral services where they sign up to accept clients in particular areas. For business consultants, many of them are members of local groups like BNI which is a networking group designed to facilitate working relationships. Talk to one of these groups, and you are almost guaranteed to get some names of people who can help you. You can also check the standards of service that the lawyer or business consultant must maintain to remain in that group because that speaks to how good they are. 

Independent Consultant Agreement by Hiring Firm

An Agreement used by the hiring company when looking to hire an independent consultant to perform specific consulting services at the firm.

Client References

A good way to figure out how your lawyer or business consultant will treat you is to ask some of their former clients. Many good consultants and lawyers will have past results in advertisements, their website, or on social media. Feel free to contact these individuals and ask if they were satisfied with how they were treated. Specifically, you can ask them whether or not they intend to hire them again should they have any business or legal issues.

Issues at Inception of Small Business

When you start your business, there are a few issues that you want to make sure your lawyer and business consultant knows about so that you can achieve success. The first challenge is picking your corporate entity. Your small business can be a Partnership, a Limited Liability Company, a Close Corporation, an S-Corporation, Professional Association, or a variation of those formats. You want to have a CPA partner with your attorney and consultant so that you can be advised of the tax consequences of any money that you give to the company and what taxes you will owe if you want to pull money out of the business. If you do not create your company in the state (or country) which will be your primary place of business, you should make sure that your lawyer has all the appropriate documents so that your foreign corporation is eligible to do business in a particular place. Starting Business offers packages to assist you in opening a company with various packages to suit your entrepreneurial needs.

Your lawyer should create any contracts necessary for you to conduct business as well as protect your businesses name and logos through intellectual property protection. Your consultant can discuss how to create your branding and make sure that your name is going to represent the high-level products and services that you offer. Any licenses that your business needs to obtain from any administrative bodies should be adequately researched, and the applications handled timely so that you can start your entrepreneurial endeavors on time.

A lawyer should also conduct a general liability review with adequate forms for any of your customers to sign if you're engaging in a business where customers will be at risk for injury so that you can keep your company from being sued. Your attorney can also advise you on keeping records and accounting so that you will be able to receive the appropriate amount of deductions on your taxes.

One of the most important things you need to discuss with your lawyer and business consultant is what type of form your employees will have to sign in order to work for you. You want to get the company started correctly with the correct background checks, confidentiality agreements, non-disclosure agreements, and former slated to health insurance so that you are protected. Starting Business has many of these forms available here. Please make sure to review some of our forms to see if they can help your ideas. 

Matching Specialization to Company Type

Not every business is the same. Opening a restaurant is not the same as opening a medical lab. Different businesses deal with different legal and trading problems at the outset. That is why you want to pick a lawyer or consultant whose area of knowledge matches the subject matter of your organization. For example, if you are starting a medical business, you may need to meet regulatory requirements of the health board. However, if you are a financial company, you may need to meet the requirements of your local financial services regulator. Each of those areas has different rules, regulations, statutes, and case law. That is why your attorney or consultant’s specialty should match the particular industry that your business is in.

Smaller Firms Are Better

As a small business, it may be wise to choose a lawyer or consultant who is associated with a smaller law firm that does not have as many clients as the larger firms have. At a smaller firm, you get more attention and will likely have the ability to get more face time with your attorney or business consultant. In larger firms sometimes it is easy for clients to get lost in the shuffle because there's so many of them. You want your legal and business affairs to be on the top list of priorities for the attorney or consultant that you hire. Smaller law firms are also more flexible when it comes to billing, and you may be able to strike a deal and pay less than you would at a larger firm.

Agreement Between Lawyer and Client

This document is a formal agreement between physical/legal person and a lawyer whom the person is willing to hire as an attorney in order to perform legal services, such as legal advice, attending of meetings etc.


SOURCES
Bruce Burk Business Consultant and Corporate Attorney
Bruce Burk is an experienced business consultant and attorney who's worked for billion dollar companies. He has acted as a consultant to many companies creating business plans, finding seed money, creating marketing campaigns, developing corporate strategies, and creating a plan for businesses to grow. As an attorney, Bruce specializes in business litigation, corporate, and real estate law. He helps structure new companies, negotiate contracts, and protect his client's interests.
Bruce Burk is an experienced business consultant and attorney who's worked for billion dollar companies. He has acted as a consultant to many companies creating business plans, finding seed money, creating marketing campaigns, developing corporate strategies, and creating a plan for businesses to grow. As an attorney, Bruce specializes in business litigation, corporate, and real estate law. He helps structure new companies, negotiate contracts, and protect his client's interests.

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