What Your Business Lawyer Should Be Doing For You

  1. A business attorney should be adding value by creating opportunities and solving company problems with market-driven initiatives.
    1. Your attorney should be your eyes and ears to things you should know, and to creative opportunities you should consider.
    2. The attorney should identify all of the ways that s/he can help you.
    3. Frequent contact, including on-site visits at no charge, is essential. From the beginning, your attorney should learn about every aspect of your business – your marketplace, customers, needs, opportunities, expectations and problems.
    4. Your attorney should ask you: “What you are trying to achieve?” “What have you done?” “What are the developments?” “What are the changes?”
    5. Your attorney should then ask you: “What do you see out there in your perspective, because this is what we are seeing.” That should be helpful and worth paying for.
  2. Your attorney should be a goal achiever and a problem solver, not someone who regularly tells you that something “can’t be done.”
  3. Your attorney should create innovative contracts to help you seize opportunities, make money, and avoid lawsuits.
    1. Your attorney should be able to identify your needs and opportunities, and tailor your contracts accordingly.
    2. Boiler plate contracts signify bad lawyering.
  4. Your attorney should provide major assistance with the prevention of employee problems.
    1. A critical element in the prevention of employee problems is the creation or updating of an employee manual.
    2. Your attorney should explain all applicable laws regarding compensation, discrimination, harassment, etc.
  5. Your attorney should help you provide structures and systems that ensure against any piercing of the corporate veil.
    1. You must be adequately capitalized at all times.
    2. Your company must observe all corporate formalities (stock issuance, corporate minutes, basic contractual agreements)
    3. Personal and corporate assets must be strictly separated.
  6. Your attorney should be able to assist you in avoiding pitfalls in commercial borrowing.
    1. Commercial loans are not prepayable unless the loan agreement so indicates.
    2. Oral credit agreements are not enforceable.
  7. Communication is the key to the relationship between attorneys and their clients. The attorney should always be able to identify every option for addressing an opportunity or problem, and specify the approximate cost and time frame of each option.
  8. Your attorney should relate and work well with your entire staff, your customers, and the other professionals who serve you.
  9. Your attorney must employ fair billing practices.
    1. Fully itemized invoices; no bunch billing
    2. 1/10 hour billing increments, not 1/4 hour minimum billing increments
    3. Delegation of all uncomplicated matters
    4. Minimal attorney conferences, or no charge for additional attorneys
    5. No legal research or discovery without your approval
    6. “Value billing” is generally good for the attorney, and bad for the business owner.
  10. Your attorney should make you feel that he or she is your Partner in helping your business to accomplish its objectives.