Legal Pitfalls: What Small Business Owners Should Know About Running A Business (Part 1 of 2)

Many small business owners may think they are saving money by not using an attorney. Ironically, this is a costly way of thinking. Running a business is rife with legal pitfalls–from starting up to winding down. One slipup could be devastating to your company.

Granted, you don’t need an attorney for everything. But engaging one only after a lawsuit has been filed might be too late. An attorney can actually help save precious time and money by helping businesses avoid legal pitfalls up front.

Finding the right attorney is the key. I’ve learned from some excellent attorneys who have great working relationships with small and large companies, and each attorney possesses unique qualities. Here are 7 of the most notable qualities:

Knowledgeable and Skilled

  • Experienced in the specific area(s) of law affecting their clients’ business
  • Thoroughly understands how the law applies to their clients’ situation and can predict possible outcomes with reasonable accuracy 
  • Identifies legal and ethical issues, which allows them to properly assess risks associated with their clients’ business decisions     
  • Gives cogent advice on how to prevent and resolve disputes and clearly explains their clients’ options
  • Proactive and aggressively moves legal matters forward
Impeccable Ethics
  • Exercises great ethics in all activities  
  • Displays a firm understanding of what’s ethically right and wrong in all situations 
  • Strives to do the right thing at all times
Effective Communicator
  • Empathically listens in order to thoroughly understand client needs and interests, facts and client goals 
  • Conveys complex information clearly and concisely 
  • Provides their clients with regular status updates   
  • Provides their clients with a written plan of action pinpointing what to expect moving forward
  • Explains to clients how the law impacts their business from a practical standpoint
Adds Value To Clients
  • Always thinking of ways to help their clients save or make money  
  • Understands their clients’ business and looks out for business opportunities or other beneficial connections for their clients
  • Seeks to resolve disputes in a way that helps their client gain value even when faced with adverse outcomes  
  • Actively considers ways to provide their clients with value beyond money saved or made
Direct and Decisive
  • Avoids hedging when reaching a conclusion and/or giving advice 
  • Clearly explains risks associated with their clients’ businesses decisions and provides a firm opinion 
  • Deliberate when recommending a course of action  
  • Promptly identifies weaknesses in their clients’ legal positions and addresses them 
  • Immediately gives their clients any “bad news” such as an adverse court decision
Prevention and Solutions Oriented
  • Aims to prevent legal problems before they arise 
  • Seeks to resolve disputes efficiently  
  • Doesn’t prolong litigation 
  • Doesn’t just identify problems and risks, but also offers solutions
Understands Their Clients’ Business
  • Genuinely interested in their clients’ business, which helps them understand the legal implications of their client’s business decisions
  • Knows their clients’ business interests and how to preserve them in a legal dispute or negotiation  
  • Knows the common legal issues surrounding their clients’ business and how to address them

Indeed, exceptional attorneys have other special qualities, but those discussed above typically produce great legal services and increase client satisfaction. Keep these 7 qualities in mind when searching for an attorney.

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