Steps to Find a Business Law Attorney in Ohio

By Drew Stevens - March 29, 2019 - Corporate & Business

Whether you’ve never worked with a business law attorney before or you find yourself needing new or different counsel, shopping for a new business law firm can be intimidating and time consuming. Here, we offer 5 quick pointers when searching for business attorneys.

  1. Determine, at a high level, what kind of business lawyer you primarily need.

The State of Ohio is blessed (or cursed with, depending on your view) having thousands of lawyers. The state offers approximately 38,000+ registered lawyers, which includes thousands of business lawyers.

One way to greatly speed up finding a great business attorney is to take a bit of time to determine what your main business law-related needs are. If you’re looking for a business lawyer to routinely review your business’s contracts, you probably want a lawyer with a strong transactional (contracts) background. If you want to buy or sell a business, then you might want to look in the direction of business attorney with mergers and acquisitions experience.

Chances are that your business legal needs won’t fit into one nice, clean practice area. While researching business law firms, look to see if the firm’s practice areas cover most of your anticipated and future legal issues. Key business-related practice areas you should look for include business and civil litigation, employment and labor law, mergers and acquisitions, and intellectual property.

  1. Search for business attorneys that match the industry you’re in

Generally, googling “business lawyers near me” is going to inevitably turn up more results than you probably care to review. One way to narrow the field is to look for lawyers that specifically work with businesses and entrepreneurs in your field.

For example, hiring business law attorneys who primarily work with construction companies isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good if you own a software company and need assistance with technology agreements and intellectual property issues. Look for law firms with practice areas designed for your particular industry.

  1. When talking to potential business law lawyers, ask them about their experience

The cliché of “never judge a book by its cover” could not be more applicable to lawyers and law firms. There are lots of (often hilarious) stereotypes about lawyers. You need to think twice though as to whether certain stereotypes actually benefit you.

For example, be wary of lawyers who excessively boast about how long they’ve been in practice. Attorneys who brag about having 40 years of experience are also practitioners who are decades removed from law school and may not be familiar with modern best practices or up-to-date as they should be with legal and business changes. Sheer number of years in practice does not necessarily equate to quality legal service.

Similarly, be cautious of the do-it-all lawyer. While some lawyers truly have developed skills in a number of legal practices, it is unlikely that an attorney is highly proficient in criminal defense, medical malpractice, immigration law, business litigation, and business transactions.  In reality, this attorney is probably highly skilled in one or two of these fields and not so much in the others. A good question to ask an attorney is what percentage of time the attorney spends practicing in the specific field you’re looking for. For instance, if you need help with trademarks you probably don’t want an attorney whose practice consists of 90% DUI defense.

Also, be cautious of firms who flaunt overhead. Certain firms love to associate skyscraper office space and country club memberships with prestige. Well, guess who pays for that overhead? You, the faithful client.

When interviewing potential business lawyers, ask about their experience with your particular sector and industry. Ask if they’re familiar with your particular legal issues, or if they have worked on the types of contracts you’re looking for. A lawyer’s illustrious resume can be meaningless for you if the attorney is completely unfamiliar with your legal needs.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask about billing

Legal services can be expensive, but having high-quality legal counsel that you can be one of the greatest investments you can make in your business. Being proactive with your legal counsel can help to avoid unnecessary headaches and save you thousands of dollars. However, not all law firms bill the same.

The majority of today’s law firm bill hourly, but there are some alternatives. Some firms build their business model around taking cases on contingency. Other business lawyers have flat fees.

Although there can be situations where these alternatives may be beneficial, be cautious with these alternatives. With contingencies, you may find yourself pushed into settlement that helps ensure the lawyer is paid, but the results might not be what you want. With flat fees, you can often get what you pay for—a template document that isn’t really tailored to your particular business because the drafting lawyer wants to get your matter over as quickly as possible.

  1. Lastly, see if your business law attorney is a good fit

If you take nothing else away from this post, remember that you should actually enjoy working with your business litigation attorney.

Does your attorney come across as pretentious or arrogant? Do you have to wait 4 days for a return phone call? Do you have to remind your attorney multiple times to get you a contract? Does your counsel have the personality of a wet cardboard box?

If you answered yes to any of the above, or even hesitated to answer, it might be best to look for new representation.

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