Three Questions Every Small Business Owner Should Ask Their Attorney
First Question: What’s your cell phone number?
Business owners make dozens of decisions, every day. The business world moves fast and every business owner needs useful tools and resources at their fingertips. This includes their attorney. We live in a world where Amazon makes same-day deliveries. Lunch can be ordered from an Uber driver. Bubbles pop up on your phone while someone types you a text message. There’s a BIG problem if your business attorney is dictating a message to you for their secretary to type and e-mail three days later. Three days later is three days too late. The problem required a response AND ACTION, three days ago.
As a business owner, you should have immediate access to your attorney. You should be able to text your attorney and receive a response the same day. You should be able to call your business attorney on his or her cell phone and reach the attorney, not their secretary. All this should be provided with full transparency regarding billing practices. Are you getting billed per text message? Is the clock running when you're grabbing coffee or lunch with your lawyer? Does your attorney offer transparent flat fee services? You need someone you aren’t afraid to call or text when you need a quick answer.
Second Question: Have you ever filed a lawsuit on behalf of a business?
Let’s face it, problems happen and most business owners will find themselves in Court at some point. If your business attorney has never litigated or filed a lawsuit for other business owners, then how are they supposed to help you when things go sideways? Take this scenario:
Eva the entrepreneur and Ian the investor start a new business and head over to Anna the attorney for advice on how to establish a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Anna does a fantastic job advising Eva and Ian on the benefits of an LLC. Anna structures the company terrifically, giving Eva full management control and Ian a passive ownership interest with protective buy/sell provisions. Everything goes well for three years until one of their customers sues the LLC for breach of contract. Eva, in panic mode, calls their attorney looking for help and guidance on the lawsuit. Anna the attorney explains that she does not handle litigation matters and will need to refer this case to another law firm. Eva must now begin interviewing new attorneys, looking to find someones she trusts as much as Anna.
Business owners can avoid this scenario by finding a business attorney with litigation experience. If your business attorney does not have litigation experience, you should ask if there is another attorney in the firm with experience representing business owners in Court. This will save time and headache trying to find another law firm in the future.
Third Question: What motivates you to wake up in the morning?
You don’t need to ask this exact same question. The point is that you should engage your business attorney in a deeper, more meaningful conversation. Engaging on a deeper level will help your lawyer understand you better and be more prepared to handle your unique needs. Your business is a huge part of your life. Your business influences your day-to-day decisions and emotions. Your business attorney should understand this and connect with you on a deeper level.
Starting, scaling, and running a business is tough work. It requires a deep level of dedication and an array of challenges. Business owners and entrepreneurs must surround themselves with a reliable support system in order to thrive. Be engaged. Be emotional. Be a business owner that understands the importance of being a TEAM.