A solicitor can come in useful for many aspects of your business. But there are a range of different types of law and solicitors who specialise in certain areas, so finding the right one to meet your particular needs is important.
A solicitor can come in useful for many aspects of your business. But there are a range of different types of law and solicitors who specialise in certain areas, so finding the right one to meet your particular needs is important. And it needn’t cost the earth.
SmallBusiness.co.uk talks you through appointing a solicitor.
When to use one
If you are in doubt over a particular issue, it is always best to seek professional advice – the amount you will pay for advice at an early stage can be substantially lower than paying for problems that will arise in the long-term. A solicitor will help in areas such as company formation, contracts or advice on employee disputes.
Find out which laws affect your industry and whether you need specialist advice. “Certain cases require a considered approach and although they may not appear urgent now, they have the potential to develop into a possibly critical situation.
Delaying action may even affect your legal rights. A solicitor will calmly and objectively assess the issues and a considered strategy can be formulated,” advises Yolanda Dolling, international publishing director at LawyerLocator, which provides a searchable list of law firms, enabling you to find a firm located close to you.
Can you afford it?
Always ask upfront what the likely fees are going to be. According to LawyerLocator, most solicitors charge by the hour for the time they spend on your case, and the longer and more complex it is, the higher the fee.
The law requires solicitors’ fees to be ‘fair and reasonable’, so if you don’t understand how your bill is made up, ask for a breakdown. Your solicitor will have to get a certificate from the Law Society declaring the bill is fair and reasonable if you demand it.
“From the very outset, solicitors must estimate your likely charges and keep you informed of any changes in that estimate. In all cases, a sensible client must balance the likely expense against the benefits to be achieved or the harm to be prevented,” adds Dolling.
Get references and recommendations
As well as using an online directory service, recommendations from other companies or business associates, such as your bank manager or accountant, are a good way to start.
Don’t be afraid to ask a solicitor for references or testimonials from any other companies the solicitor has worked with, and follow these up.
You can also contact The Law Society, which provides the Lawyers For Your Business scheme. This has about 1,200 solicitor members in England and Wales. Solicitors belonging to the scheme will give an initial free consultation to those starting up or running young or growing businesses. Phone 0207 405 9075 for a list of solicitors in your area in the scheme.
Depending on your need, for example, if you are looking to raise large sums of money, it may be worthwhile using the services of a well-known, larger firm, as this can add credibility. On the other hand, you may be able to build up a better working relationship with a smaller firm.
See also: Choose the right IT for your business