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For small business owners, finding a lawyer can be an overwhelming process. It can be difficult to know exactly what you need, what to look for and even where to look. Further, you might be wondering whether the investment is necessary for your business. However, legal help for small businesses is more accessible than ever and having a lawyer you can trust for your small business will provide you with certainty. 

This article will take you through five things to consider when finding the right lawyer for your small business.

1. Consider Your Needs

The first thing to consider when finding the right lawyer for your small business is your needs. Knowing your business needs and in what areas you will need legal advice will help you find a lawyer. For example, you might be looking for a general business lawyer who can advise on all aspects of business, including employment law, contracts and commercial leasing. Alternatively, you might be looking for a lawyer with expertise in a specific area, such as construction law. Again, knowing your exact needs will guide you to find the most suitable lawyer.

2. Find Referrals

References from others, such as business associates or online reviews, will help you find the right lawyer. Word of mouth referrals will provide guidance about a lawyer’s quality of service. This can ensure you get the service you are looking for. 

In particular, you should look for reviews from others who have similar needs to your business. For example, those operating in a similar industry or having a similar sized business.

3. Assess Suitability

There are thousands of legal practitioners in Australia, which can make finding one that suits you overwhelming. You should consider if your lawyer has experience in a similar area to your business, including your industry, business structure and business size. 

To know which lawyer or firm is capable of resolving your legal issue, you should ask questions that cover their:

  • primary areas of legal practice;
  • typical clients, such as whether they often deal with small business matters;
  • fee arrangements;
  • typical response times to clients; and
  • if possible, if you can get in touch with their client references who are small businesses or have had similar work completed for them.

Further, you should also consider your budget and what costs will be suitable for you. For example, lawyers may operate on an hourly rate, a fixed-rate service or a subscription model. Knowing what fee structure will most suit you will help you choose the right lawyer for your small business.

Fixed Fees

It is common to find most small law firms charging clients on a fixed fee model. This is where the cost of a fixed fee service depends on the type of legal work you give a firm. For example, if you want a letter of demand drafted, a firm might charge you $1500 + GST. On the other hand, if you want the firm to review a commercial lease, a firm might charge you $2500 + GST.

One of the main benefits to a fixed fee model is that you have a better idea of what the legal services will cost you before you retain the firm for their services. In this sense, a fixed fee service can also allow you to ‘shop’ around for different legal services by comparing legal costs at different firms.

Hourly Rates

If your legal matter is more complex, likely to be ongoing or you retain a larger commercial firm, it is less likely that the firm will charge you a fixed fee. Instead, they might charge you an hourly rate for their services.

As a general guide, the hourly rates for lawyers range from:

  • $200 – $250 per hour for a junior lawyer;
  • $250 – $500 per hour for a senior lawyer; and
  • $500 – $1,000 per hour for a practice leader or a partner.

Under an hourly rate model, a lawyer can charge you for time spent:

  • drafting documents for your matter;
  • negotiating or liaising with counterparties; and
  • on phone calls or emails they make or receive about your case.

However, you should note that a lawyer cannot charge you for the time taken to prepare a costs agreement or an itemised bill. Ultimately, whilst a lawyer charging an hourly rate can provide you with their rates and an estimate for how long your work will take for them to complete, this is only an estimate of the final costs.

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4. Ask the Right Questions

Finally, you should know what questions to ask to find the right lawyer for your small business. Some key questions you should ask will include:

  • Whom will I be communicating with?
  • What areas do you specialise in?
  • How will I communicate with my lawyer, and how often?
  • What services do you offer?
  • Do you have experience dealing with similar businesses and their needs?

A lawyer who answers all these questions in a way that matches your needs will be worth considering.

5. Find Someone You Trust

Ultimately, you must trust your lawyer. Indeed, the right lawyer is one you can trust and depend on. Some key indicators that a lawyer is right for you include responding to you when needed, listening to your problems with concern and patience, and caring about your business.

Your lawyer should always keep your best interests in mind. This creates a relationship in which you feel confident discussing your business needs with them. Furthermore, a trustworthy lawyer will be transparent, an excellent communicator and responsive.

Finally, engaging a lawyer should not be a convoluted process, and a good lawyer will ensure that the process is as simplified as possible. 

Key Takeaways

Finding a suitable lawyer for your small business can be overwhelming, and you might not know where to begin. When searching for potential lawyers, there are several things you should consider to ensure they are suitable for your small business, including: 

  • your small business’ needs;
  • any referrals for legal services you have received; 
  • suitability;
  • what questions to ask; and
  • trustworthiness. 

If you are looking for the right lawyer for your business, LegalVision’s experienced business lawyers can help on 1300 544 755 or by filling out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a lawyer for my small business?

While you do not need a lawyer for every aspect of your small business, knowing that you have someone you trust and can turn to for your legal needs will help you run your business with ease. Legal help for small businesses is more accessible than ever. Having a lawyer you can trust for your small business will provide you with certainty. 

How do I find the right lawyer for my small business?

Finding a suitable lawyer for your small business can be overwhelming. When searching for potential lawyers, there are several things you should consider to ensure the right fit. This includes assessing your business needs, the lawyers that have been referred to you, and a potential lawyer’s suitability. Further, you should also know what questions you should ask a potential lawyer to establish if they are the right fit for you and if you consider they are someone you can trust.

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