California is the home of startups. Whether you are bricks and mortar store or the next big tech startup, you will need the help of a California business lawyer. A business attorney will help you to create a solid legal foundation for your new company that will prevent legal issues in the future. Not all business attorneys are created equal. You need to find a California business lawyer that knows your industry and will be a true partner during the first few years of trading. A California business lawyer at Nakase Wade identified the five steps in find the best California business lawyer for your business:
Step 1: Create a List of Your Business Needs
Every business has different needs, and every business owner has strengths and weaknesses. Work out exactly what you need an attorney’s help with and create a list. This will help you in later steps.
Some of the things a business attorney can help with are:
- Founder agreements – A founders agreement is a legally binding contract between business partners. It lays out the responsibilities and resources each partner brings to the business and how all profits and assets are split. It is vital to the smooth running of a business.
- Raising venture capital – When raising money to start a business, business owners need to navigate a complex web of securities laws. A business attorney can ensure you obtain and manage the money legally.
- Incorporation – A business attorney can explain the different types of business entities available and which ones may suit your needs. They will also help you fill out and file the incorporation documents.
- Protect intellectual property – Your business lawyer will help you to protect your competitive advantage by filing intellectual property protections such as patents and copyrights.
- Drafting and reviewing contracts – An enforceable contract is the best protection for your business and its interests. It will help prevent profit losses and protect your business from litigation.
- Employment disputes – Your business attorney will help you handle and prevent labor disputes. They can proactively prevent them through smart policy and program planning. When an employment dispute occurs, your lawyer can help reduce the damage by helping you resolve it quickly.
Of course, your business attorney can help you with additional or fewer services depending on the needs of your company.
California Business Lawyer & Corporate Lawyer. Telephone: 800-484-4610
Step 2: Know What You Can Handle Yourself
There are some things that an attorney cannot help with, though. This may because it falls under the expertise of other professionals, like accountants, or that it is more cost-efficient for you to handle yourself. Some examples of these are:
- Selecting a business name or domain name
- Writing a business plan
- Applying for business licenses
- Filing formation papers
- Applying for business loans
- Applying for an EIN
- Taxes or anything tax-related
- Hiring employees or independent contractors
Step 3: Find Business Attorneys in Your Area
The next step is to find a list of business attorneys in your area and cross-reference these against business attorneys who know your industry. You can find these lists by searching online legal directories. These are online listings that provide the names and contact details of lawyers by specialization and region.
Once you have a list of business lawyers nearby who may be able to help, you need to narrow this list down to a shortlist. You can do this in one of two ways:
Research the Lawyers
Roll up your sleeves and search online for customer reviews and industry news about their work. You can see what cases they may have worked on and how successful they were in those cases. You want to narrow the shortlist down to ten business attorneys.
Ask For Referrals
If you have contacts in the industry or local businesses, ask them if they have had positive experiences with any business lawyers. Don’t just take the name of their current business attorney; find out what they like about them and how they have helped their business in the past. If you’re in California, a good place to start is the California Office of Small Business and DVBE Services. Also, you may search at Findlaw Small Business Lawyer Directory.
Once you have your shortlist, you will interview each business lawyer, so in the interest of your time, keep the list to ten or fewer.
Here are some California business lawyers and attorney directories (no endorsement) for you to consider:
- Nakase – “As business litigation attorneys, Nakase Wade attorneys recognize that early business resolution is usually better than a prolong war. Nevertheless, a business litigation attorney must not be afraid to go to trial. Many purported ‘business litigation attorneys’ do not actually have experience in trial. Business attorneys Brad Nakase and Douglas Wade have extensive business trial experience. You will received personal service and attention from a business litigation attorney who has been to trial and experience to direct the lawsuit towards the best early resolution.” Visit Website: Civil Litigation Lawyer
- com – “Legal issues come up in all sorts of contexts when you own a small business. Whether it’s a question related to hiring and firing employees, entering into a lease, or something related to copyright or intellectual property issues, you’ll want a lawyer you can turn to for advice. Too often, small businesses mistakenly believe that they can wait until a problem arises to hire an attorney. This can be a costly mistake.” Visit: Website
- Structure Law – “Structure Law Group, LLP (“SLG”) is a Silicon Valley-based business law firm with offices in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles that focuses on business transactions and litigation. Structure Law Group, LLP solves complex problems in a pragmatic and effective fashion. We pride ourselves in being devoted and trusted advocates and advisors for our clients. Our clients include individuals and businesses of all sizes, ranging from startups to multi-national corporations. Typical representations include business formations, mergers and acquisitions, financings and commercial transactions, corporate governance, employment counseling, financial insolvency and restructuring, real estate and commercial litigation.” Visit: Website
- LC&K LLP – Lester, Cantrell & Kraus, LLP is a full-service Riverside business law firm dedicated to protecting the interests of individuals and businesses throughout the Inland Empire. Our Riverside business lawyers provides sound legal advice to help clients achieve success in today’s tough business climate. Our trial lawyers are well-respected and familiar with the courts and legal community in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange County and throughout Southern California. Visit: Website
- Hamilton & Associates, APC – “Hamilton & Associates, APC. is committed to a simple principle: provide the highest level of legal service to all clients at a reasonable fee. Our experienced attorneys have worked tirelessly to build a law firm that combines their individual talents to meet and exceed the specialized legal needs of our clients.” Visit: Website
Step 4: What Questions Should I Ask While Interviewing Business Lawyers?
Your questions need to get to the heart of what is important for you and what help you need in your business. However, here are some good questions to start off with.
Have you worked with businesses in the past?
Many laws have different stipulations for small businesses, so you need to know your attorney is knowledgeable of the applicable laws. A small business lawyer also wears many different hats, where a large corporation may have a team of attorneys who each handle different aspects of the legal challenges. A small business attorney will generally have better fees for frugal startups too!
Have you had experience with these specific legal issues?
If you foresee your company having certain legal issues, or you need extra assistance with certain legal matters, you need an attorney with that expertise. Ask the corporate lawyer about their experience and how they handled certain things. They will not be able to reveal client names or specifics, but they will be able to tell you a little bit about their knowledge.
If I require specialist lawyers, will you refer them?
An attorney’s network is just as valuable as their own expertise. Sometimes a case may arise that needs a very specific skillset. You need to know your lawyer will tell you that the issue is outside their realm of knowledge and will refer someone who specializes in that problem.
Will other people work on my business?
Businesses may be hesitant to work with interns or paralegals, but it can be very cost-effective. A lawyer or partner’s time is a lot more expensive and is often split between multiple attorneys. By allowing their team to work on your business, your issues will receive far more attention and get resolved a lot quicker.
No matter your preference, you should know what their policy is on this, then you can decide for yourself.
Do you foresee any conflicts of interest?
The problem may often arise for specialist attorneys that two of their clients are involved in a lawsuit. One attorney cannot represent both of them. You should ask your shortlisted lawyers if they foresee any conflicts of interests. They will not be able to tell you the names of their clients, but they may ask you to list your main competitors and suppliers.
What are your preferred methods of communication?
If you prefer short and snappy emails that you can read when you have time, there is nothing worse than working with a business attorney who will call you to send updates or discuss developments. Similarly, if you prefer meeting face to face so you can ask questions and ensure you completely understand things, there is nothing worse than an attorney who just sends an email.
You want to find a business attorney you can work with for a long time, and communication is a key part of a successful professional relationship. Ask potential lawyers what their preferred communication method is and how they communicate with their clients. Ask them how flexible they are and if they would be willing to communicate some things using email and some things using phone, if necessary.
What are your fees, and what fee structures do you use?
You should come away from your consultations with a rundown of the lawyers’ fees and which fee structures they use. This way, you can compare the cost of each business attorney as well as their expertise and suitability.
Step 5: Know How Business Attorney Fees Work
Before you interview each of the business lawyers on your shortlist, you need to know how attorney fee structures work. This will help you to compare the fees of each of the lawyers. A business lawyer will work on one of the following four fee structures:
- Flat Fee – A flat fee is a fixed price for each task. This means that you will be charged a set rate, regardless of any complications that come up. Flat fee rates are beneficial to startups who need to budget each of their costs. Many business lawyers will offer package bundles for common startup services.
- Retainer Agreement – If you require a lot of legal assistance, then your business lawyer may offer a retainer rate. This is where you pay a certain amount every month to guarantee a set number of hours of the attorney’s time. You would pay this monthly fee even if you didn’t need legal assistance that month. If you need more help than the retainer agreement, the additional services are often charged as a flat fee.
- Contingent Fee – A contingent fee is only used for litigation where you stand to recover damages if you win the case. Your business attorney only collects their fee if they win your case. Their fee is often set as a percentage of the recovered compensation. A business attorney is more likely to offer this to an existing business client, as if they are fired during the case, they will not receive any payment for their services.
Source – HeraldKeepers
Note: The Heraldkeepers News Department was not involved in the creation of this content.
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