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What to look for when choosing a lawyer

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Is the right lawyer really out there?!

When you own a business there are some investments that are no-brainers. Like buying new equipment to make your job more efficient or hiring a bookkeeper to stay on top of your figures or advertising to reach a new audience. These types of investments feel like an easy decision making process because you can see how these types of investments can help grow your business. But investing in strategic legal advice, for example, when entering into a new business arrangement or signing up a lease, can seem intimidating and many business owners have a huge resistance to hiring a legal professional to help in their business.

This blog aims to alleviate some of those fears by setting out what you should look for when you want to engage a lawyer. By having a better understanding of the process and what to expect, you will have greater confidence in choosing the right person for the job and you’ll be able to see how the right person giving the right advice can be a great investment for your business.
 
1. Phone a friend.
A direct recommendation from a friend or business colleague is a great way to find a lawyer. Make sure you ask about their experience and get real and honest input on what they liked and didn’t like about their dealings with their lawyer. Don’t have anyone who can give you a referral? Business groups on Facebook are another great way to find someone (just make sure you do your research in step 2 below). Most of our client work is now done remotely with emails, phone calls and skype or zoom meetings. You don’t always need a local lawyer and in fact, sometimes the person with the skill set you need may be in a different location to you so don’t be afraid of working with someone who might not be in the same city or town as you.
 
2. Do your research.
Check out any available information online such as the lawyer’s LinkedIn profile for more information on their skills and professional background or their website and any articles they may have published.
 
3. What to do when you think you’ve found the right person.
Once you think you’ve found the right person, arrange a time to meet in person or chat over the phone. Go with your gut and if you’re on the same wave length as the other person then you know you’ll be able to go ahead with confidence. There are plenty of lawyers out there and if you don’t get that instant connection then don’t be afraid to move on and find the right person for you.
 
4. Scope and Fees
The biggest concern (and often criticism) of lawyers is that they’re expensive, or the costs of using a lawyer are unknown. This is where selecting the right professional that you feel confident in will help you to see the value of the financial investment in getting the right advice.  In many business transaction, your lawyer will be able to identify risks and pitfalls in the documents and give recommendations on how to manage or eliminate those risks. They will also act as your advocate in negotiating any changes with the other party.
 
Many professional service businesses, including lawyers, adopt a “time based” approach to calculating their fees. In the legal profession, this is usually done by charging in 6 minute increments. All lawyers are required to disclose their estimate of their fees for the work to be undertaken and how the fees will be calculated, that is, their hourly rates, before starting the work. If your lawyer has given you an estimate of fees, it should clearly set out the work that they will do for the amount in the estimate. But keep in mind, an estimate is just that – an estimate. If your work takes more time than was estimated, that’s where the fees will increase above the initial estimate and this is the point in time that usually gives business owners mild heart palpitations. There are some firms (like Cardillo Commercial Lawyers!) that provide a fixed fee service so you’ll now exactly how much your legal spend will be without any unexpected fees.
 
And finally, you as the potential client are always in control. It’s important to feel confident in your chosen professional that they understand your concerns, the needs of your business and can clearly identify the issues that are relevant to you. Taking the time to find someone that aligns with your business goals and values will ensure that you get the most out of your legal investment.
 
At Cardillo Commercial Lawyers our aim is to give business owners the confidence to engage a legal professional that understands their business needs and educates and guides them through whatever stage of business they are in. If you think its time to get a lawyer on board to help get you through your next business arrangement, we’re always happy to connect with new businesses, we’d love to chat! Get in touch by email at office@cardillolaw.com.au.

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