Module 4: How do you find the best lawyer or attorney to represent your interest when buying a business? Well, this article will teach you everything you need to know.
One of the best measures to put in place when purchasing a business is to hire a good lawyer. This is very important because the input of a lawyer can contribute significantly to the success or failure of the deal. Therefore, you need to select the right lawyer to guide you through the whole process of buying a business.
Selecting a lawyer might not be an easy task, since many factors such as budget will influence your decision. However, the following tips can help you choose the right lawyer when buying a business.
Buying a Business: How to Find the Best Lawyer or Attorney
1. Interview the lawyer
Your first step towards hiring a competent lawyer is to conduct an interview, during which you will figure out whether the lawyer is right for you. Explain your needs and ask if he or she is familiar with handling business sales and acquisitions.
Your approach to hiring a lawyer shouldn’t be any different from your approach to hiring a manager for your business. Is the lawyer someone you can work with? And will you be comfortable making demands of them (without being deferential)? Asking the right questions is the most important thing here.
The following are good questions that can help you figure whether an attorney is right for your business and purchase deal:
- How much experience do you have?
This question can be extended further in two ways: you could be asking how much experience the lawyer has in their profession, or you could be asking how much experience they have in the industry you are planning to buy into. Their knowledge of that industry can help you make some well-informed decisions.
- What is your approach to conflict resolution?
Business deals are liable to involve some conflict. So you must find out how much of experience the lawyer has in handling such issues and how much of their time is devoted to battling it out in court during disputes.
- Will anyone else be involved in your job?
Some lawyers assign work to paralegals. This shouldn’t be worrisome, especially if the lawyer has a good reason for it. But hiring a lawyer that delegates extensively could cost you more money and time. You will spend more time explaining something to your lawyer at first, and then re-explaining it to a paralegal. And the involvement of a paralegal might prompt the lawyer to charge higher rates than normal.
- How long do you take to get back to people?
If you want your attorney to be prompt and easily assessable, be sure to ask how long they take to get back to you when you call. Some lawyers are so inaccessible that you will have to go through a paralegal first and may not connect with them for several days. You sure don’t need such.
- How do you communicate with your clients?
While some lawyers correspond via email or phone, others don’t communicate much beyond scheduled meetings. When trying to involve a lawyer in your business purchase process, you will certainly need one who is available to answer your questions and grant your requests as they come up. So, make sure their style of communication is good for you.
2. Check references
After the interview, ask for references of buyers they have helped purchase businesses in the past. Don’t just take the lawyer’s words for it; contact the references and ask them questions like the following:
- Did the lawyer really understand small businesses?
- Did the lawyer understand the difference between professional guidance and personal recommendations?
- Were you satisfied with the lawyer’s service?
- Did the lawyer meet deadlines?
- What bills and costs did you pay?
3. Negotiate the fee
Having been satisfied with the results of the background check you did with the references given, your next step is to start negotiations with the lawyer. Defining your needs and streamlining the scope of legal tasks you will require from the lawyer is a good way to get fair pricing.
4. Finalize on terms and conditions
After agreeing on price, you will need to make any terms and conditions binding; and the contract more concrete by putting them in writing. For example, you might want to emphasize that you intend to retain the sole and final discretion for any and all decisions, and that no authority whatsoever is delegated to the lawyer.
Having a good lawyer on board when buying a business will not only help you get a good and smooth deal, but it will help you maintain a long-term relationship with the seller.