Starting a Business • Part IV: Choosing your Corporate Counsel
Every company should have legal representation. If you are a start-up company you want to interview several attorneys (2-3) and give them a background on your company. You want to know how they bill and what priority you will be given at the firm. Which attorney will be assigned to your file? The biggest issue plaguing most attorney-client relationships is a firm’s response system if your business is in a crisis. Are phone calls returned same day? Who is the team in place to assist your company? But most importantly, does your attorney have a business sense for the operations of your business? Many attorneys can give you the mechanics of a licensing or distribution agreement but they are not savvy enough to understand the nuances of the industry that will warrant that added provision in the agreement that avoids litigation down the road. Establish an attorney-client relationship. Sign a retainer with the firm so when a quick question needs to be asked your attorney is in place to take your call; guide you in order to avoid litigation or prepare the needed document that memorializes the handshake agreement before either side spends money on production or discovery. 99% of the time the parties are so anxious not to lose the “deal” that motion is set into place before a written agreement can be written and approved by both sides. When conflict arises, human nature prevails, and each side remembers only the facts of the negotiations that benefited them. Young companies believe they “save” money by not using an attorney at the beginning stages of growing company. In actuality, that is when you need qualified advice most of all.