At some point in anyone’s adult life, they likely will need a lawyer. Everything from estate planning to registering a trademark to criminal defense may require legal representation. But knowing how to choose an attorney can be tricky. After all, most of us don’t need to do it often.
But if you’re looking for a contract or intellectual property lawyer, I’d love to chat with you. At Angie Avard Turner Law, LLC, I help all kinds of business owners. Working from my office in lovely Pelham, GA, it’s a privilege to serve creatives and other entrepreneurs who need to protect their hard work. Reserve your time today.
How To Choose an Attorney Without Stress
Frequently, if you’re looking for a lawyer, there is already a problem. Under ideal circumstances, you’ll have the chance to pick an attorney when nothing is wrong. But even if that isn’t the case, here are seven steps to make the process simpler.
1. Consider Your Desired Personality Traits
Before you even begin the search for an attorney, think about the things that matter to you in a relationship. What type of personality draws you in and makes you feel comfortable? What behaviors will push you away?
It is highly unlikely that your time with a lawyer will be one-and-done. Rather, you will build a relationship that grows and changes with your business. This fact means that you need to know, like, and trust the person you hire. This so-called “know, like, trust factor” is significant when choosing a lawyer or any other expert you will work with in your business.
It’s crucial that you feel comfortable and confident with the person you choose so that you won’t hesitate to reach out to them for help and advice when needed. So before you start interviewing attorneys, it is a good idea to consider which personality traits are important to you. This reflection will help you in your search.
2. Determine the Expertise You Need
Just as with medicine, the law has specialized areas of expertise. Most attorneys have a focused area of practice, so your first step should be to outline precisely what you need. For entrepreneurs, the following legal needs are common:
Other specialty areas that people often need are estate planning, personal injury, and family law. No matter what type of legal representation you require, it’s important to clarify that before you start to search for a lawyer. In small towns or underserved areas, attorneys often have a general practice that can cover many different needs.
3. Consider Your Location
For some areas of the law, the location will matter when you choose an attorney. For example, I am in Georgia. For contract law, I generally only can practice here in my state. There are exceptions where the contract is based on intellectual property. However, intellectual property law falls under federal statutes, so I can work with clients anywhere in the US for these needs.
If you want an attorney that you can see in person, location will be important. However, if you are comfortable with the world of phone and digital communication, you can cast a wider net. No matter your preference, be sure to verify that the lawyer you choose has a license to practice law in their state.
4. Gather Referrals
Since most people rarely need an attorney, it can feel overwhelming to find someone you can trust. Once you know what type of legal help you need, ask your friends, family, or business network for referrals to lawyers they have worked with before.
Doing a Google search for attorneys near you can also be effective, but definitely do your due diligence before signing a contract. Ask for references and follow up on those so that you can get a feel for how a particular lawyer works for their clients.
5. Interview and Ask Many Questions
Do you really want to know how to choose an attorney? Very carefully!
All joking aside, once you have some names to consider, it’s time to dig in and ask a lot of questions. This step is the most time-consuming because you want to be sure you have all the information possible before making a decision.
Even with solid gold referrals, don’t skip the interview process. Just because an attorney is the right fit for your colleague doesn’t mean they are the right fit for you.
As you go through these interviews, here are some crucial questions to ask.
How long have you been practicing law?
How long have you practiced in this area of expertise?
What is your fee structure? For most legal work for creative entrepreneurs, flat fees are appropriate and preferred. In litigation situations, however, an hourly rate is more likely.
What is the primary way you will communicate with me? For example, do they mostly rely on email? Do they schedule regular meetings?
Will I be working directly with you? In some law firms, more junior attorneys do much of the client work. Be sure to verify who will be handling your account.
Can you help me connect with other experts, such as tax planners, as needed?
In addition to establishing their experience and expertise, these interviews should also help you determine if an attorney’s personality is a good match with yours. To have a successful working relationship, you need to feel comfortable and confident with your lawyer. Pay attention to their communication style and how well they answer your questions as you make this decision.
6. Consider Present and Future Needs
Although you determined the expertise needed in Step Two of this list, it’s wise to consider what you might need in the future. For example, perhaps right now, you simply need an employment contract. But eventually, you might want to pursue a trademark or patent.
It’s difficult to determine what opportunities and needs will come your way as a business owner because you don’t know what you don’t know. Choosing an attorney who can come alongside you and be part of your team is crucial. And finding someone who has other colleagues or referrals available as your needs change is important, too.
7. Make Your Choice
After you complete the interviews, it’s time to choose. Assuming there is pretty equal footing in experience and expertise, your decision will probably come down to your budget and a gut feeling.
As with any relationship, your instincts play a significant role. Just because someone comes highly recommended and has all the credentials in the world doesn’t mean they are the attorney you need. Be sure to select someone who makes you feel confident and heard. Lean into the know, like, trust factor from the first step!
Protect Yourself and Your Work
In short, when it’s time to choose an attorney, look for someone who is:
The legal world is understandably intimidating to most people. With specialized jargon and far-reaching implications, the law can feel confusing.
At Angie Avard Turner Law, LLC, my goal is to remove the confusion and stress that can come with legal affairs. I speak openly and plainly with my clients to ensure we’re all on the same page when it comes to protecting them. I specialize in contract and intellectual property law, helping creative entrepreneurs protect what they create.
I’d love the chance to talk with you to see if I’m a good fit for what you need. You can book your time with me today to get started.