As a small business, it’s often difficult to know when to take legal advice, and how you should go about finding a solicitor if you need one. As a general rule, unless you have a legal background and are confident you are able to handle potentially technical issues, it is best to seek professional advice from a qualified solicitor.
Why you might need a solicitor
Not all situations will require a solicitor, but in certain circumstances finding a legal advisor is strongly recommended, and sometimes essential.
Although a wealth of useful information can be found online and minor issues could be solved with negotiating with the other party, a solicitor may be required to help with certain matters. These can range from contracts for employees, customers and suppliers to intellectual property and patents.
Certain business matters will also often requite legal advice, such as setting up a partnership or structuring your business, dealing with complicated sector specific regulations, or financing your business.
Finally, if someone brings a legal action against your company, or if you wish to bring a legal action on your business’s behalf you should take legal advice.
Where to start
When you have decided that you need a solicitor, consider what your key priorities are. Is it important that they know the local area? Is it a very technical matter - do you need a sector specialist?
Word of mouth recommendations are always worth listening to, so ask around the local business network for some opinions. You can also visit online find-a-solicitor websites, such as ContactLaw.co.uk, who will help put you in touch with a solicitor that meets your requirements.
Once you have identified a few suitable solicitors who you believe will be able to assist you, the next step is to speak to them over the phone so that you can ask some preliminary questions before committing to a formal meeting.
What do I need to know?
Questions to ask could include whether they provide a free initial consultation (many firms do); their experience with cases similar to your own; how long they have been practicing; whether they can provide references from former or current clients; who exactly would be working on your case, and how the firm would like to be paid.
Once you have decided on a solicitor that you think is right for your business, the next step is to meet them in person to discuss your issue. Make sure you bring all relevant documents with you when first meeting, such as, depending on your query, your business plan, company finances and employee details. Even the smaller details will help your solicitor understand your business and assist you with your issue.
It’s important not to become complacent with the service provided by your solicitor. Monitor your relationship regularly, using factors such as the success of the advice given, the value for money offered and the speed and efficiency of the service you have received. Don’t be afraid to take your business elsewhere if you feel the service you are receiving is not up to scratch.