While it’s a good idea to be knowledgeable about rules and regulations for your business practices, finding the right legal help at the right time can be a little overwhelming. You’ll find plenty of lawyers ready to jump on board with your entrepreneurial venture, but overspending on legal assistance is an easy mistake. Finding a good lawyer will take time and possibly some interviewing; you’ll want to develop a detailed list of objectives to learn what information and assistance you really need.
The most common reasons to turn to a lawyer for a startup or new venture may include:
- Defining your business structure
- Assistance with negotiating a new lease or other legal contracts
- Determining what is considered intellectual property
- Assistance with copyright information and infringement clauses
- Help with litigation services
- The sale or negotiations with equity for your company
You may also need help raising capital, or working with international trade associations and governments. Whatever the case may be, outline exactly what you need to accomplish by consulting an attorney; any potential lawyers that can’t provide specific information will not let you make the most of your options. Look for a lawyer that can add value to your specific industry; don’t be afraid to ask for referrals and contact other businesses for advice.
A good lawyer will help you understand legal documents, prepare contracts or procedures, and may also assist with any hearings and trials. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to let your lawyer draft everything from scratch; save on their hourly rates by drafting material yourself first, then having them approve or edit the documents.
Fee structures can be complicated depending on the type of lawyer you’re hiring; it’s a good idea to request a formal billing contract so you know how much they are charging by the hour. Some lawyers can charge upward of $450 per hour; making sure you are getting true value for your requests is important, and you might be far better off turning to other resources.
Always keep in mind that there are many local resources available in your community. The local library, professional speakers, and consultants can all serve as mentors and guide you through many areas of business. Your local small business development center can also offer free services, and sometimes even legal advice. Learn about what’s available by contacting your area Chamber of Commerce, and get involved with local networking events to open up fresh opportunities!
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