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How to Hire an Attorney

Perhaps the most challenging part of starting a small business or solving a personal legal problem is covering all your legal bases, but one big mistake individuals and business alike often make is to think you can do it all yourself. You need a good attorney--one who understands your unique business needs.

To help you shop around for the best legal help, we’ve created this simple yet thorough how-to. Learn what to ask potential lawyers, ways to save money, and more so you can protect your most prized investment: your business.

  • Before meeting with an attorney, you should ask if there is a fee for an initial consultation. You will be obligated to pay that fee even if you do not hire the attorney. However, even if the consultation is free, you have every right to take some time to think before you hire the attorney, and you have every right to decide not to hire the attorney.
  • In the event that a dispute arises between you and your attorney, most state bars offer dispute resolution services. These services can be of particular benefit in the event of fee disputes. If you feel that your attorney has acted in an unethical manner, each state has a “grievance” procedure where you can file a complaint against your attorney and have your complaint investigated.
  • Your search for the “right lawyer” should be expected to take several days. Although it is a challenging process, this commitment will yield important rewards. Begin as soon as possible because there may be statutes of limitations or other deadlines that may be critical. In some cases you have only a limited window of opportunity to take legal action.
  • If you think you have found the “right lawyer,” you will want a written fee agreement. Unless you sign a written fee agreement at the outset, the probability of your having an amicable conclusion to your relationship is zero. Ask for a copy of the attorney’s fee agreement. As with all documents, make sure that you understand it fully before you sign it. No reputable attorney will pressure you to accept a fee agreement on the spot.

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