If you want success for your business, then you will need a lawyer and an accountant. If the accountant deals with your numbers and the local, state and federal tax return, the lawyer will offer assistance in almost every aspect of your business.
Do not wait until someone sues you to start looking for an attorney. When you have been served with a summons or complaint, it is already too late. At this point, you’d better think about how much you will pay for court costs, settlements, attorney’s fees and other expenses until the problem would be solved. So if you believe that you will save some money by not paying the fee, a lawyer would charge you to keep you out of trouble, think that this is only a small portion of what you would pay if you get sued, and you do not have an attorney.
Types of Attorneys
Just like doctors, most lawyers are specialists in certain areas, like family law attorney or business law attorney. Someone who usually deals with divorces or wills will not be a good option for your business.
You will need a lawyer who will be able to deal with:
• Contracts – the lawyer will have to help you with the contracts for the suppliers, clients, and customers and also respond to agreements that you will have to sign.
• Business organizations – the lawyer, will help you decide if a limited liability company or a corporation is the best way to organize your business. He/she will also prepare all the necessary paperwork.
• Real estate – although when you lease a commercial space, you are given a printed document to sign, you might think that they are not negotiable. Well, a good attorney will have a tenant’s addendum that can be added to the lease document and which will contain provisions to benefit you.
• Licenses ad taxes – although your accountant is the one to prepare and file your company’s tax returns annually, your lawyer should be familiar with the process of registering your business for state and federal tax identification numbers.
• Intellectual property – if your company deals with the design, media or other creative-type business, then an attorney should be able to help you register your services and products for federal trademark and copyright protection.
What should you know about the flat fee?
Usually, lawyers charge a one-time flat fee to perform routine matters such as forming a corporation or LLC. You should ask if the fee includes the disbursements, such as his/her out-of-pocket expenses, and when you will have to pay it. Many attorneys require the payment upfront and this way they will be able to cover the out-of-pocket costs.
Be prepared to pay between $350 and $800 per hour for a good lawyer with years of experience in the field. A junior attorney at a small company in a small city will charge on an average $150 per hour, while senior lawyers in big firms can ask for $1,000 an hour.
Most attorneys are reluctant to tell you how much the flat fee is if the matter involves negotiations or litigations with third parties. This happens because they cannot know how much time it will take until the transaction is completed and by quoting a small flat fee, they will end up losing money. In such a situation the lawyer will charge by the hour. Still, you should ask for a written time estimate and a notice if he/she thinks that the estimate will be exceeded.
Look for a lawyer that you can trust, whom you enjoy working with and get along with, who cares about the well-being of your business and who can relate to you. Usually, referrals are most reliable sources. Find an attorney who is experienced in the legal issues that you will need.