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How to Select an Attorney Who Will Help Your Business Prosper, Guaranteed, or…Legal Zoom Doesn’t Have an App for That

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First things first – Who are you; what do you do?

You have a vision for your successful business:

  • It fulfills a need in the market place superior to that of its competitors.
  • Sales are robust.
  • Revenue consistently exceeds the costs of delivering your excellent products/services.

That is the long and short of what you are about.

What role does the attorney play to help your business achieve its goals and objectives?

There is an area in which the endeavors of the successful business intersect with our body of laws.  How so?  In every venture without exception a business manages potential liabilities, agreements, real estate, regulations (like licenses, filing of information, etc.), valuable new ideas that make your business unique and special, taxes, and employees (even if it’s just you).

Most people believe that dealing with the legal system and lawyers is a daunting task.  True, it can be.  But it does not have to be.  Especially if you find an advocate who provides the legal tools your business needs most and makes it a smooth and supportive process.

Let me offer a few tips

Unless you wish to self-learn the intricacies of the areas I just listed, you will want an exceptional guide to help you traverse some possibly treacherous terrain.  What would make such a guide exceptional? Identify the qualities that mean the most to you, your business’ success and your peace of mind – for starters here are three qualities he or she might possess:

  • Trustworthiness – the well-being of your business will be in their hands.
  • Honesty – you will want straight dealing at all times, even when the news is not particularly good.
  • Care and concern – your trusted advisor must stand in your shoes and feel your pain to be your best advocate.

Think like the big dogs think; it works for them it will work for you

When big business puts together an emerging venture, the investors, partners, or Board of Directors will find an individual to serve as general counsel – the in-house lawyer who will be the traffic cop directing the flow of properly handled of legal/business issues.  That person’s role is to understand the very essence of the particular business while also being mindful of the myriad legal issues that the business will need to address and resolve in the course of its commerce.  What makes that person outstanding at this job is a unique ability to understand the principles of business as affected by the applicable law.

For your small business, the skill sets are identical. The attorney you engage must:

  • Appreciate the practicalities of running a successful business
  • Be an effective problem solver
  • Rigorously assess cost versus benefit in all legal and compliance decisions

Where do you find this exceptional advisor?

Start with family and friends.  Ask those whose opinions you trust most to suggest an attorney they truly admire.  Then ask the following questions about that lawyer:

  • What makes them great at what they do?
  • Do they respond quickly to your requests and phone calls/emails?
  • Are they clear with you about billing practices?
  • Are those billing practices fair?
  • Did you receive value greater than the cost of services?

The strength of their answers and how those answers synch with your goals and objectives will give you the ‘short list’ of lawyers best suited to make your business better.

Avoid the credential trap

I understand that a long list of accolades and a degree from a prestigious university are seductive.  But do they make a particular attorney the right one for your business?  If we are very honest with ourselves, we might admit that picking a lawyer for his Harvard degree is like buying a bigger house or driving a flashier car.  It’s more about our own prestige than finding the best person for the job.  More important than what school your advisor attended will be how well she does her job, not necessarily how well the school created its brand.  Those shiny credentials often come at a higher price.

Avoid the pit bull trap

How many times have you heard the phrase “my attorney is a real pit bull?”  Is that really what your business needs?  Will a pit bull, fangs thrust forward, saliva dripping, better negotiate a beneficial contract?  Defuse a potentially disruptive employee conflict?  Elevate your reputation with your competitors and your consumers with whom you do business each and every day?  Again, it’s about matching the resource to the task.  When you’ve been backed into a corner, and there is little hope of a collaborative solution, then and only then would I be worrying whether or not my attorney was rough enough and tough enough.  

Remember – the vast majority of problems encountered by your business will be ultimately solved by identifying the core issues, then working together with others to arrive at a consensus for an intelligent solution.

It’s About Your Business’ Health and Well Being

Choose a lawyer to care for your business’ well-being the way you would choose your physician. He is:

  • Knowledgeable, and always caring.
  • Busy (is sought after and highly regarded), but always communicative.
  • A great diagnostician who always identifies the ailment and applies the best medicine, always with the Hippocratic Oath as his compass – Do No Harm.

Share your comments or examples of how selecting the right attorney can help you build your BIG business!

Mark Mauriello, a passionate small business owner and attorney, believes in the power of opportunities and overcoming obstacles to make entrepreneurship both challenging and rewarding.  Having spent three decades operating small businesses, a law practice, and most importantly, acquiring real-life, in-the-trenches business experience, he appreciates that success is your moment-to-moment choice and not dependent upon your circumstances.  Mark has worked with large and small enterprises helping them sharpen their thinking, decision making and improving bottom line results.



© 2012 by Mark Mauriello, PC

All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Mark Mauriello, PC.

Lynan Saperstein

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