When launching a business, hiring a lawyer is essential. There is a range of legal documents you’ll need to prepare, from the Articles of Association to a Shareholders Agreement, among many more. These documents can be extremely complicated, but if they’re completed correctly by a skilled startup attorney, they can be tailored to fit your unique business offering — accelerating your path to significant and sustained success.
Keep reading to learn which questions to ask prospective lawyers to ensure your business has what it needs to thrive from the very start.
What’s Your Area of Focus and Expertise?
Finding a lawyer can be tough. Ideally, you’ll connect with someone, build a trusting relationship, and work together for years to come. For this relationship to work, you’ll need to understand who your attorney is and where they come from. Get to know what they’re passionate about; what projects they’re most interested in. Where did they build their experience and expertise? Are they excited about tacking the issues and opportunities your new business is facing? Have they worked on these types of projects before? Getting the answers to these questions is one of the best ways to get to know your lawyer and learn if they’re a good fit for your startup.
Have You Worked With Startups Before?
Not every lawyer knows what’s best for a new business. Startups have different needs, challenges, and opportunities compared to other types of businesses. So, even if a prospective attorney is experienced in a specific area, they may not be able to help you in the way you need because they lack experience with startups. Understanding their perspective and experience will help you make the best decision for you and your team.
Have You Worked With Startups Like Mine Before?
Finding an attorney with experience in your industry is essential. Your attorney should know all the ins and outs of whatever area of business you’re going into. This might seem like an obvious requirement, but many entrepreneurs hire friends or other connections that they like well enough, but who can’t actually help their new company succeed because they lack the experience and expertise.
What Is Your Social Media and Technology Experience?
Asking about social media might seem like an irrelevant question, but technology and social media use are critical for startups today. Having a lawyer who understands how social media, the internet, the cloud, and websites work are important factors worth considering. Having a lawyer with tech and social media acumen is imperative for the success of your startup, especially if you’re building a tech company.
If Not You, Who Will I Be Working With Moving Forward?
If you’re communicating with larger firms, you may have a consultation with a different attorney than the one who will actually be handling your business matters moving forward. If this is the case, ask who you’d be working with, and connect with them before you agree to anything. When you’re trusting an attorney with your ideas and your future, it makes sense to know who they are. Connecting beforehand allows you to discern if you’re a good fit for each other and if the relationship will be mutually beneficial.
What Is Your Fee Structure and How Do You Bill?
When it comes to fees, get the details up front. Some lawyers charge for phone or Skype calls, assistant’s time, administrative or research time, and even emails. Understanding how your lawyer will bill you and at what rate and schedule will help you avoid surprise invoices and unnecessary conflict.
If your attorney is offering to work at a reduced rate, make sure the rate schedule is clear. Again, you want to avoid surprise invoices should your attorney return to their standard rate or adjust how much they’re billing you without your knowledge. Finally, as tempting as it might be to accept offers of services for free, we don’t recommend it; there are too many ways for things to go wrong without invoices to keep both parties accountable.
Do You Like the Startup Lawyer You’re Talking To?
This is a question for you, not your prospective lawyer. When you’re launching your own venture, you’ll need to trust your lawyer. It’s also in your best interest to like them. If you don’t like the person you’re taking to, you’ll be less likely to go to them with questions, be honest about what you need, or regard what they have to say. This is not to say you need to go out to dinner with your startup attorney every Friday, but you should appreciate and trust them as a person and professional who is handling your intimate business affairs for years to come.
Law Offices of Kari Santana: Here to Help Your Startup Grow
No matter where you are in the process of launching your new business, the experienced team at the Law Offices of Kari Santana are here to help you succeed. We understand your startup needs are as unique as your business ideas and will work with you to craft a tailored solution that makes sense for your business and give you confidence and peace of mind.
To get started today with a free initial consultation, please call us at (616) 717-5759 or complete our quick and easy consultation form below.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.