When considering what you need as a new business, a lawyer probably isn’t that high up the list. They tend to be overlooked as people who can help as you begin your startup journey. But not having one might be one of the biggest mistakes new businesses make.
There are plenty of reasons why they’re a good idea to get on board early. From having the right insurance and doing taxes properly, to making sure all your new assets like branding and logos are properly protected. Before you jump into hiring an attorney, there are some things you need to know.
Lawyers come in many shapes and forms. And not all of them are created equal. This guide will give you advice for what to look out for, the right questions to ask, and whether it’s going to blow a hole in precious business finances.
What Should You Look Out For?
Finding lawyers can feel like separating the wheat from the chaff. And that’s because there are so many of them. So how do you know what makes a lawyer worth their salt?
The safest place to start when searching for a lawyer is one that comes from a recommendation. There will be someone in your life who’s needed legal counsel, so start there. Referrals from people you trust are worth more than strangers online.
Not all lawyers will be right for you. And that’s because they all specialize. If you are in a truck accident, you’ll want elite truck accident attorneys. The same goes for business; choose an attorney well versed in business law.
A Business Mindset
Having a lawyer that knows business law is one thing. But finding one that has a business mindset is valuable too. Because as a startup, you don’t have tonnes of cash to burn. So they need to know what you should focus on, and what’s ok to leave till a later date.
You’ll want an attorney that’s experienced. It makes total sense. One that’s also participated in situations similar to yours is even more valuable.
A busy lawyer means one thing. They’re good at their job, and they’re in demand because of it. It’s a good sign to look into them, at the very least.
How Much Is It Going To Cost?
Rates for lawyers differ wildly. And the way they charge can vary too. Hourly rates can go from $100 all the way up to $400, depending on where you’re situated. Specialized lawyers can range from $500 to $1000 an hour because they’re trained for a specific type of law. High-end firm charges can skyrocket.
It’s important to nail the costs down at the start. Because they vary so much, how much it will cost may change your decision from a yes to a no.
What Should Be Prioritised?
As a startup, you won’t have a lot of cash to throw at a lawyer. And while they’ll help you decide what’s best to concentrate on, there are a few things that are important to know now. Here’s what should be a priority for you before you start your search for the perfect legal counsel.
- Establishing the business as an LLC or corporation – will help protect you from business liabilities.
- Establishing ownership rights – if there’s more than one founder, it’s of utmost importance that everyone knows their ownership and equity rights from the get-go.
- Making sure all tax requirements are fulfilled – is a huge priority because not having it done right leads to huge consequences down the line. For both your pockets and your reputation.
- Protecting your intellectual property – protect everything you create and own to make sure you continue to hold it in the future.
Red Flags To Steer Clear Of
Along with positive things you need to look out for before committing to a legal team, there are red flags you should run swiftly in the opposite direction from. Firstly, any attorney who’s not speaking the language of you or your business should be avoided. If they just don’t understand the challenges you face or your vision, problems will arise down the line.
And steer clear of any lawyer who springs surprise costs on you. Not only is it unprofessional, but it’s also not good for a budding business when every dime counts. Lastly, If it feels like your lawyer is learning on the job, find a new one. If the job is completely new to them, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to get it done well.