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If you plan on running a successful business, you'll likely need a lawyer at some point. Learn how to find a great business lawyer in California.

How to Find a California Business Lawyer

A business attorney is necessary for new companies in the same way that an accountant is. They will help you to set up your company correctly and ensure you are compliant with all laws. In this article, we will discuss how to find a business attorney in California.

When Should I Hire a Business Attorney?

You should hire a business company from the very start, not just when you are being sued. A business lawyer can help you to incorporate and will handle a lot of the initial documentation and contracts for you. “They can help with zoning laws, incorporation, licenses and taxation, lawsuits and liability, and intellectual property law,” said California business attorney, Brad Nakase, who is a founding partner at the Nakase Wade law firm.

Most business owners are understandably reluctant to hire an attorney, we don’t exactly have the best reputation, but our preventative legal advice can save you a LOT of money. Having a dedicated business lawyer will save you money in:

  • Unfavorable contracts
  • Lawsuit settlements and litigation fees
  • Customer cancellations

Does the Size of a Law Firm Matter?

Law firms come in all sizes. They can range from solo practitioners to a large law firm with practices in many states. Each has its own benefits.

Benefits of a Small Law Firm

  • More personal touch
  • Cheaper prices because of smaller overheads

Benefits of a Large Law Firm

  • Its reputation precedes it
  • There are a number of different specialties under one roof

You will need to decide which is best for your business. There are a number of other things you should consider in terms of suitability. The first being how easy the lawyer and law firm are easy to work with.

What Fee Structure Would My Business Attorney Charge?

There are a number of fee structures that attorneys use, but business attorneys will most commonly use the following three. Your business attorney may use a combination of the three, depending on what is most appropriate for the service.

Hourly rate – Your attorney will charge a set hourly rate for services that do not have a clear timeframe. Their time is valuable, so for things that require negotiation or back and forth with another party, they will likely charge an hourly rate. This rate will rise with their amount of experience.

If your attorney is charging an hourly rate for a service, it is in your best interests to make sure they have all the information they need to do their job.

Flat fee – This is sometimes also called a set rate. The fee will be set for the job. A business lawyer will not use a flat fee for most services, only for simple tasks.

Contingency fee – This will only be used for lawsuits where your business will win money if they win the case. Then the attorney will charge their fee as a percentage of the damages they recover for you.

What Types of Legal Specialties Do I Need?

Different types of law will be necessary for your business. Look for a law firm or business attorney with the following areas of expertise. Ideally, some will have multiple of these specialist areas.

  • Contract law – Your business requires favorable and enforceable contracts. A business attorney will help you to negotiate contracts and ensure that they protect your business interests.
  • Employment Lawyers When your company hires employees, an employment attorney is necessary to help with employment agreement, and company handbook.

  • Business organization law – When you first start your company, one of the first decisions you will have to make is which entity you will choose. A business attorney can explain the pros and cons of both and help you file the paperwork.
  • Employment Attorneys – an employment attorney can assist a business with all things related to employees.
  • Real estate law – Negotiating real estate contracts will be difficult, and your attorney will need to do work to protect your interests. Whether you are buying or renting a commercial space, asks your business lawyer to help.

  • Taxes or licensing law – A taxation lawyer cannot replace an accountant, but they can help with registering your business for all applicable taxes. They will also give you advice on the tax implications of different business decisions.
  • Intellectual property law – An intellectual property lawyer can help protect your intellectual property. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents will help protect your competitive edge.

What Questions Should I Ask a Business Lawyer

Here are some questions you should ask business attorneys before you make a decision.

Experience

You need to find out about your attorney’s general knowledge and industry-specific knowledge. You should also prepare a list of areas you may need help and ask how the business lawyer will be able to help you handle them.

Connections

No matter how well you pick your attorney, you will need to hire a specialist lawyer from time to time to deal with complex issues. The connections of your business attorney will be important as they can refer you to colleagues for specialist help.

Will You Be The One Handling My Legal Matters

In some law firms, there are people whose job is onboarding new clients, so the lawyer in your consultation may not be the one which you will be dealing with. It is important to know this in advance to ensure you do not make a decision based on rapport with the attorney if they are not the one you will be working with.

Industry Knowledge

Has your attorney worked with clients in your industry before? There are benefits to experience in your industry but also downsides. You want someone who knows your industry challenges, but you also need to watch out for conflicts of interest.

Are Your Fees Up For Negotiation?

Most business lawyers will negotiate their fees a little bit. So don’t be afraid to ask for fees that match your company’s budget.

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