Most business owners have used an attorney at some point in time, if for nothing more than to help them incorporate their business. Some maintain an ongoing relationship with an attorney whom they’ve known for years. That’s a good thing. We’re only as good as the decisions we make, and the advice of an attorney can make things a whole lot easier. If you’re one of those business owners who maintains a working relationship with a particular lawyer, Bravo! You’re covered. Or…are you?!
One Is Not Enough
For the sake of comparing apples with apples, we’ll limit our discussion to legal matters only. Businesses face challenges in other areas, for sure, but we want to know if having an attorney that we’ve used over the years is enough to deal with all business legal concerns. With that understood, isn’t having one attorney who knows you and whom you trust enough to protect your business? Not necessarily.
An attorney’s advice is only good if we seek it out. Even if we’ve developed a working relationship with a particular lawyer, he or she doesn’t work for free. So, while you may get preferential rates, you won’t seek out counsel on a “trivial” matter because the cost of counsel is greater than the matter under consideration. The trouble is, if you make enough missteps on these “small” issues, the impact can have a cumulative negative effect on your bottom line.
A second factor is your attorney’s area of expertise. No attorney can “specialize” in everything, by definition. According to Dictionary.com, to specialize means “to pursue some special line of study, work, etc.” How many ‘special lines of work’ can one person pursue well enough to master? Only a few. However, laws affecting business run the gamut of situations and areas of expertise (specialties). So no one attorney is your one-stop resource for answers. While you can get general questions covered, when situations become more detailed and complex, you need the services of a specialist. It’s similar to using a general practitioner for common ailments, but needing the advice of a specialist like a cardiologist, neurologist, rheumatologist, etc. when specific medical issues arise. In this sense, lawyers are like doctors; they have their areas of expertise, and specialize in them. Therefore, your business will need a bunch of specialists if you want true protection.
Finally, there is the matter of jurisdiction. Most attorneys are admitted to the bar in one or two states. Here in the New York Tri-state area, some may be admitted to the bar in all three jurisdictions (NY, NJ, CT). For many businesses, that appears to be enough. But what happens when you use a supplier in Nevada for example, and your contract states that Nevada laws govern? Then your tri-state attorney isn’t much help. Now you need to hire a Nevada attorney, or more likely your attorney hires a Nevada attorney and passes on the cost to you. With overhead.
It Takes an Army
Businesses face a mountain of challenges, great and small. In the legal arena this is especially true. With all the changes coming down the pike to drop squarely in your lap (see my blog post, Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time?), competent legal advice is more essential than ever. With a flood of legal issues heading your way, do you want one attorney, or an army? The answer is obvious. It takes an army. You need a Law Firm, one having in-house attorneys with various specialties. Better still, you want a firm that has a network of affiliates and assigns to tap into so that, no matter in which jurisdiction your legal issue falls, you’re covered.
I know, you’re thinking “who in the world can afford that kind of coverage…unless their last name is Gates, Trump, or Winfrey?!” Thankfully, there are ways to gain access to this type of legal protection without having to offer up your unborn child. Give us a call in the office at 646-340-8087 and let’s talk about your particular needs and how to meet them.