In a misguided effort to save on expenses, start-up businesses often hire inexperienced legal counsel. Rather than spending the money necessary to hire competent legal counsel, founders will sometimes hire lawyers who are friends, relatives or others who offer steep fee discounts. In doing so, the founders deny themselves the advice of experienced legal counsel who can help the founders avoid many legal problems.

Non-lawyers often fail to appreciate the fact that most lawyers tend to develop their expertise around certain areas of the law depending on the clients they serve. If you hire a lawyer who is experienced in handling personal injury claims or divorce matters, that lawyer may not possess the relevant experience to advise small business clients. Therefore, you should inquire as to what areas of law a prospective attorney practices BEFORE you meet with them and be sure that you are talking to a lawyer who has experience advising small business clients.

Before choosing an attorney, it is helpful to get the names of several lawyers or law firms who work with business startups and interview them all before hiring one.  Ask each lawyer whether they have expertise in some, if not all, of the following legal areas:

  • Corporation, commercial, and securities law
  • Contract law
  • Employment law
  • Intellectual property laws
  • Real estate laws
  • Tax laws

Although it is not necessary that the lawyer or law firm retained by the founder have experience in all of the foregoing areas because certain problems can be “farmed out” to different lawyers or firms, it is often best that the founders retain a firm that can handle some, if not many, of the areas of expertise listed above so as to provide continuity between the founders and their lawyers.


If you have any questions about launching a new business, an attorney can help.

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