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How to Choose a Good Attorney


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Here are the steps to choosing an attorney that is right for your business.

1. Assess your legal needs. No attorney is “right" for every situation. Where some businesses require particular knowledge or experience, others may look for an attorney who has a particular personality type. Before you begin your search for a lawyer, ask yourself what role you want him or her to fulfill.

2. Find a business attorney. After you have assessed your needs, develop a list of potential attorneys who might meet these needs. There are several ways to find your potential business attorney. Some of these ways include personal knowledge or contacts, referrals, bar associations’ referral services, directories, or internet searches. No single source is best, so it is usually a good idea to employ more than one method to find potential attorneys for your business.

3. Do your homework. Now the legwork begins. With a little preparation, you can ask the right questions when you interview your potential attorneys. Your research should also narrow down your list to two or three attorneys.

When researching, be sure to review the firm's website; search the internet for additional information on the attorney or firm, as well as for articles written or seminars conducted by the attorney you are considering; and check for disciplinary complaints, which are on file with the body that regulates lawyers in your state. Save yourself time and later headaches by spending time now to thoroughly research potential candidates.

4. Interview your business attorney. The final step in choosing a business attorney is the personal interview. Schedule a meeting with the attorneys on your short list. While the meeting can be conducted by telephone, it is difficult to assess personality without a face-to-face meeting. If you are seeking to hire a business attorney for a long-term relationship, a meeting in person is essential.

Each interview is different, but here are some basic questions that will apply in most cases:
  • What similar businesses has the attorney represented?

  • What similar matters has the attorney handled?

  • How long has the attorney been practicing law?

  • What is the hourly rate of the people who will work on your matter?

  • Are paralegals or associates available to handle routine matters at lower rates?

  • Does the attorney handle certain matters for a fixed fee?

  • What is the estimated fee? (If you have a particular project in mind. )

  • Have any disciplinary complaints been filed against the lawyer? What was the outcome?

  • Does the attorney get referrals from his peers in the practice areas you are concerned with? (This validates that he or she is recognized as proficient by people who should know. )

  • Has the attorney written articles or presented seminars to other professionals? (Again, this validates the attorney's claim of proficiency in an area of practice)

  • Has the attorney received any professional honors or recognition?

  • How will the attorney handle matters that are outside his areas of strength? Are there other attorneys in the firm with the skills you will need? Will he assist you in finding a lawyer outside his firm?

  • What is the attorney's availability? Will he or she have the time to provide the services you need in a timely manner?

If you have a specific matter in mind, ask the attorney how he would handle it. For example, if you are buying a business, ask him or her to describe how they would handle the preliminary negotiations, due diligence, and negotiating and drafting the final agreements.

By laying the right groundwork and asking the proper questions, you can find a reliable business attorney who will work with you and fulfill your legal needs to years to come.

Visit for an experienced attorney in Fayetteville who has been in practice for 18 years. Let his legal experience go to work for your business. Billings Farnsworth is a freelance writer.


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