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Business Lawyers?????

MATTHEW LESKO: You are going out having meetings with bankers, and accountants, and lawyers, picking the power business cards and the power furniture and the power this or whatever.

You know, when I did that, I found out in a year or two that I was out of business. And who won? The lawyers, the accountants, the people I got the furniture from and all this kind of stuff.

ELIOT WAGONHEIM: A lot of people take a look at their lawyers and say, you know, this guy is just giving me advice based upon some ivory tower -- not how it really works in my business.

MATTHEW LESKO: I think the more experts you get, the more complicated you get.

EDWARD HILLER: You need an accountant, you need an insurance agent, and you need an attorney. Those are the three principal advisers you are going to need to start a business.

EDWARD JACOBSON: They should be working in concert. They should be working together. They may overlap sometimes, but you still need to rely on them.

MATTHEW LESKO: It's silly, because when you have a million dollars, then you can worry about that. Why the hell worry about it now? But everyone says, "oh, I got to have the right tax structure." Most businesses go out of business in three years.

ELIOT WAGONHEIM: The best business lawyers are those who actually do make the effort, not just to understand the legal problems of their clients, but actually understand their clients!

EDWARD HILLER: And that is really the key when you start a business. You want to be able to plan properly and you want to able to protect yourself and your assets.

MATTHEW LESKO: Why the hell worry about it now?.

ELIOT WAGONHEIM: If, for example, you are buying a franchise. You want to buy one of the sub shops, or you want to buy quick change oil shop. Having a lawyer is a very good idea because you are going to presented with a very thick packet of paper that tells you what you have to do, what you need to do, what happens if you do not do it -- all of your rights and obligations.

MATTHEW LESKO: Why the hell worry about it now?.

EDWARD HILLER: If you are going have to lease, you want a lawyer to be able to review that because sometimes leases are very one-sided and quite harsh.

ELIOT WAGONHEIM: In that case, it would be very helpful, necessary to have a lawyer.

MATTHEW LESKO: Why the hell worry about it now?.

EDWARD HILLER: If you have a lot of bills and cannot pay them in your business, but you have not protected yourself properly, then those creditors may be able to go after your personal assets that you worked hard to attain.

RICHARD BOOTH: You can protect yourself from personal liability for the debts that might be generated if the business ends up failing.

MATTHEW LESKO: Most businesses go out of business in three years.

Business Law Professor Richard BoothMore on Edward HillerMore on Edward JacobsonMore on Matthew LeskoMore on Eliot Wagonheim

So, You Want to Hire a Lawyer But Don't Know Where to Go?

You're not alone. Studies have shown that there are many people who would use a lawyer if only they had the right name. But with some many yellow pages listings, what's a well-intentioned client to do?

Do Your Homework!

It's important to know who you're dealing with. Perhaps your brother-in-law is a lawyer, but is he the kind of lawyer you really need? Make sure your attorney has relevant experience. An attorney who regularly drafts wills may not be the best choice to represent you in a courtroom if the subject is an auto accident. If family, friends or co-workers have hired a lawyer for a similar reason, ask them for recommendations. If not, check with your state and local bar associations. Some groups offer lawyer referral services for their members.

Try to talk with more than one lawyer before you choose the one to represent you. But find out if you'll be charged for an initial meeting. Be prepared to describe your problem in a brief, clear summary. Ask the various lawyers about their experience, their fees, what your options might be, your chances of success, who will do the work, and when the problem might be resolved.

Nail Down the Terms of Representation!

Many people are afraid to ask their lawyers what a task would cost for fear of offending them. Then, they're offended when they receive an invoice far in excess of their unspoken, and perhaps unrealistically low, expectations.

As with most transactions, communication is the key. Once you decide to hire a lawyer, be sure you understand what you've both agreed to. How often will the lawyer update you? What information will you be required to provide? Do you understand all your options? What will the total cost be? If you're not clear on exactly what the lawyer is doing, ask for clarification. Although your chances of success can't be guaranteed, discuss approaches to your case. You should be comfortable with your lawyer's approach to your case. Be up front with your lawyer on all the facts and circumstances surrounding your situation. You may want to get the agreement with your lawyer in writing.

Remember the most expensive lawyer is not necessarily the best one for you. Nor is a "bargain" rate always a great deal. Look for the best balance of experience and cost. You may want to ask your lawyer if a junior lawyer or paralegal can perform some of the work to lower your costs. You also may want to ask if there are tasks you could perform yourself to save time and money. So, you might be able to copy, pick up or deliver certain documents. A lawyer may charge you a flat fee for a particular service or offer alternative methods of payment. Each has benefits and risks.

Law Can Be Stranger than Fiction

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