Attorneys are like doctors and accountants -- some are great and some are terrible. Just because they went to school for a few extra grueling years and passed the tests that enable them to practice doesn’t mean that they are exceptional at their job.
Here are some of the early questions you should be asking and warning signs you should be recognizing when searching for new legal counsel.
(1) Do your research
Like anything in life, you have to put in the time to get the best results. This is no different when it comes to finding your new attorney, so use your network of friends, colleagues and business associates to get a recommendation on attorneys that they’ve worked and had great experience with. Although this doesn’t mean that what worked for them will work for you, it’s certainly a good place to start. Be sure that you are seeking out an attorney that is specialized in your field of need.
IN OTHER WORDS: There are different generals for different types of wars, and you need a lawyer who really gets what you are trying to do.
(2) Ask the right questions
The relationship you have with your attorney is like any other relationship -- it must be a good fit for both parties to work properly. To get started on the right foot, you must ask the right questions from the start.
IN OTHER WORDS: You’re going to have to ask a lot of questions and be specific to accomplish this. Don’t hesitate to push for answers, and if they aren’t satisfactory, move on.
(3) Run for the hills!
You should avoid the attorney that you can't walk in and have a meeting with because of their geography, is going to bill you for their education on your business area or that doesn’t have the ability to answer a question directly. For example, if you ask a question about a specific provision of your partnership agreement and they come back with unrelated information about a potential office lease, which had nothing to do with your question and includes additional hourly fees, it’s likely that you are being taken advantage of -- whether intentionally or not.