Prospective Business Attorney Questions and Answers.
If you’ve never hired a business attorney before, you might not know where to start. You might also not know exactly what you are looking for. These questions will help you in your quest for finding a business attorney that can help you start, grow and sell your business.
Are you an experienced Business Attorney?
Ask direct questions about your prospective lawyer’s experience. Accounting is the language of business — Have they ever taken an accounting course? What was your undergraduate degree? What practical experience do you have in business? If you know you want to incorporate your business, for example, ask if he or she has ever handled an incorporation. Alaska Law Offices, Inc. is experienced in business. We have two Certified Public Accountants on staff, with more than fifty years experience in business. We have experience, starting, running and growing businesses. In addition to growing our own we have audited, managed and consulted in manufacturing, service, construction, real property, transportation and medical businesses. We have assisted in entity selection, employment contracts, and a host of other business needs.
Are you a well-connected Business Attorney?
Your business attorney will know a lot about business. However, there will come times when you are going to need a specialist in something they don’t know. You want your lawyer to know when you need a referral to a specialist. They should keep you from needing to finding those specialists when you need them. Alaska Law Offices, Inc. is a connected business law firm. We have extensive contacts in Alaska and among lawyers across the nation in specialized practice areas. When our clients needs call for it we consult with other counsel to streamline their work. If a referral will be more efficient or expeditious we are happy to make the referral.
Do you have other Business Clients in my industry?
A good business attorney will be familiar with your industry or interested in learning more about it. This is a double edged sword. The more they are entrenched in an industry, the more efficient they become for you. Improvements to a business documents and models frequently are shared with all of their clients. However, this may keep you from enjoying the market advantage or your own developments for as long. Alaska Law Offices, Inc. has business clients in several Alaska industries. We are always discuss potential conflicts of interest with prospective clients before starting a new engagement. We also bring a wealth of information from our experience having managed and audited business in the: transportation; construction; manufacturing; real estate; medical practice; banking; finance; sales and marketing sectors.
Are you a good Business Attorney teacher?
Business attorneys do their most valuable work when they teach you and your staff how to stay out of trouble. They do this by providing you the law applicable to your business and assisting in creating documents or procedures to stay compliant. A good business lawyer contributes to your business by staying up with the changes in your business. Alaska Law Offices, Inc. has fourth generation teachers. Our staff has taught courses in vocational schools, community colleges and the university level. The classes have covered topics including: business communication; secured transactions; collection practices; entity selection; taxation; business modeling; business simulation; accounting; management; personnel; negotiation; real property finance; computer programming and systems management. We really enjoy working with people and teaching them new skills.
Are you a salesman, a manager, or a worker?
Every business needs all three types of people, law firms are no different. The “salesman” looks for new clients; the “manager” makes sure the client’s work gets done; the “worker” gets your work done. You want an attorney with a good mix of manager and worker. Ask to meet the worker and be sure you are comfortable with them. Alaska Law Offices, Inc. are a good mix of manager and worker. We get the job done in an efficient cost effective way.
What are your billing options?
Unlike personal injury lawyers, business lawyers don’t generally work on “contingency fee.” Most lawyers will charge a flat one-time fee for routine matters, such as forming a corporation or LLC. Find out if the flat fee includes out of pocket expenses, like filing fees and courier charges. Most business attorneys will require a retainer before starting work. Typically Alaska Law Offices, Inc. will engage businesses on an annual retainer basis for the regular and routine business advice and reminders that businesses need. For retainer clients we also offer flat fee services for additional services that are outside the regular annual schedule. We also provide additional serves on an ad hoc time and hourly fee.
Limits on Flat Fees?
Flat fees generally are not quoted when the the matter involves litigation or negotiations with third parties. “Even though it’s a transaction I’ve done dozens of times, if the other side’s lawyer turns out to be a blithering idiot who wants to fight over every comma and semicolon in the contracts, then I can’t control the amount of time I will be putting into the matter, and will end up losing money if I quote a flat fee.” In such situations, you will have to pay the lawyer’s hourly rate. You should always ask for a written estimate of the amount of time involved, and advance notice if circumstances occur that will cause the lawyer to exceed his or her estimate.
Is the Retainer Refundable?
Ask whether the retainer will be used and not held indefinitely in escrow., and that the lawyer commits to return any unused portion of the retainer if the deal fails to close for any reason. Alaska Law Offices, Inc. uses two types of retainers, the annual service retainer and the ad hoc service retainer. The annual retainer is earned throughout the year as the services are performed. The ad hoc service retainer in contrast is an estimate of fees and is refundable when the job is complete if any amount remains unearned.
Whether You Should Give Your Business Attorney an Interest in Your business.
You should be suspicious of any lawyer who offers to take an ownership interest in your business in lieu of a fee. Giving your attorney an interest in your business creates a potential conflict of interest. When attorneys interests are conflicted they can no longer fully serve your interests. You should keep the blue sky value of your business for yourself.