Our belief in the importance of a financial team is well established. As your business develops and grows, surrounding yourself with a trusted financial advisor, CPA, and insurance provider will support your continued success. This includes having an attorney in your circle as well. You may be wondering how a lawyer fits into a financial team? First of all, how you set up your business, its tax classifications, and ownership options will directly affect the finances of your company. Not to mention that real estate transactions, billing contracts, and collections are all legal issues that hit the bottom line on a regular basis. “When it comes to legal situations, the biggest mistake people make is thinking that if you do it yourself, you’ll save money,” explained Andrew Rubenstein, Esq. of Rubenstein and Associates. Furthermore, “Having a professional in your corner expedites things, reduces stress, and simplifies it all for you.”
Considerations when selecting an attorney
When choosing an attorney, start by getting referrals from colleagues you know and trust. As you meet and interview potential attorneys for hire, evaluate each of these areas:
- Personality: Does their personality match yours? Will you be able to work together? Can you confide in and question them? Do they already have relationships with other members of your financial team?
- Area of expertise: Are they a general practitioner, or do they specialize in a certain area of law? Are they part of a firm, where you will have access to other specialists if needed?
- Communication: Do they pick up the phone on the first ring? Or can you reach them quickly via email? How do they prefer to communicate and does that fit your preferences?
- Billing procedures: What are their billing practices and fee structures?
- Keep it simple: Do they “sweat the small stuff”? Can they distinguish between addressing issues that will prevent big problems down the road versus fighting battles that don’t need to be fought?
General Practitioner vs. Specialist
There are multiple pros and cons to choosing between a general practice lawyer and one that specializes in an area of law. While a general practice lawyer will be available to handle the variety of legal issues a business may encounter, a specialist will have a greater depth of knowledge in their specific field. In contrast, general practitioners “may charge more because they don’t have standard contracts,” Rubenstein advised. “For example, real estate lawyers can take advantage of their boilerplate contracts containing solid, accurate basic information where only 10-25% of the information needs to change.” Furthermore, specialists can run into trouble if they attempt to work in areas where they have no experience at all.
Bottom line, one is not better than the other. They each have their own roles to play in the legal world and on financial teams. Do your research and find an attorney that can address the unique needs of your business. Check out our blog on how to integrate them into your financial team!