Four Reasons to Establish a Relationship with a Small Business Attorney Before You Need One

From time to time, every small business is likely to have questions that an attorney familiar with business law will need to answer. From setting up your business, to responding to legal concerns, to defending yourself from a lawsuit, attorneys answer queries and provide specialized support that you cannot reliably get elsewhere.

At the RISBDC, we recommend that every small business owner establish a relationship with an attorney before you “need” one. They should be familiar with the legal aspects of a small business and potentially your industry, if special considerations or significant liability apply.

Here are four reasons every small business should establish a relationship with a small business attorney:

  • Start on the right foot: An attorney can help you ensure you’re establishing a firm legal foundation for your business: dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s.
  • Steer clear of trouble: By helping create comprehensive, accurate structures and identifying legal blind spots that other businesses have run into, an attorney may help you avoid legal action in the first place.
  • Save time: According to Sally McDonald, Partner at Cameron & Mittleman LLP, when you need legal advice a lawyer who already knows about and understands your business can hit the ground running when responding to questions or legal actions taken against you.
  • Ensure access: McDonald also reports that many attorneys are more likely to return the calls of existing clients than new, unknown clients. When you are in urgent need of legal advice or support, you don’t want to be sitting around wondering if the phone will ring.

McDonald also had this advice to offer for businesses seeking an established relationship with an attorney:

  • Interview attorneys by asking them questions about what types of businesses they usually work with, and any specialized knowledge they have in your particular industry.
  • Many lawyers offer a free consultation to help determine if they are the right fit for your business’s needs.
  • A junior or mid-level associate or partner may be more cost-effective than the senior partners in a law firm, if your company seeks to avoid high billable hour rates or does not specifically need the extensive level of experience those rates would furnish.

For further background on common legal concerns for small businesses, see our legal resources page.