Choosing an Attorney That Understands Entrepreneurs

Jeff Cornwall:

  • Understand the advantages and disadvantages of large vs. small firms. Large firms have specialized expertise that can become critical as you grow. Small firms can offer a more personal touch and can be more efficient. Most entrepreneurs need something in between. Understand your needs (e.g., intellectual property, environmental law, employment law, etc.) and make sure they have an expert that can address your needs as these issues arise.
  • Get at least three referrals from people you trust. Your best source is other entrepreneurs.
  • Interview each firm carefully. Think about things such as: personality (you may need to spend a lot of time with these folks during stressful times in your life), how compatible you think the working relationship would be with these folks, their use of technology to make things more efficient (and cheaper) for you as a client, the timeliness in returning phone calls (they will never be more responsive than when they are trying to get your business–so if they are slow now….), knowledge of your industry (not essential, but helpful), do they add networking potential to sources of funding or new business, and finally find out how much they cost and how sensitive they are to your limited budget (be honest and direct–if they are defensive about their rates, run for the hills!).

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