Entrepreneur posted an article by Jane Porter on it’s website entitled 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Small Business Attorney. The article is spot-on, in my humble opinion. Naturally, I thought of the service LegalShield Associates provide small business owners. Can it stand up to the “10 Questions?” Let’s find out.
How much experience do you have with my industry? This is a great question, because you don’t want an attorney learning to cut their teeth in the legal arena. You want one who has stood the test of time and knows what they are doing! Obviously, I can’t answer this question directly, since I don’t know what industry you’re in, or in which state you’re incorporated. So let me give you a representative example. I live in the great state of New York. The attorneys working for the Provider Law Firm in our state practiced law an average of 21 years. The numbers are similar in other states. While I can’t say that they’ve worked on a specific area of law for that entire time, it does give you confidence that somewhere in the firm there’s an attorney who knows what he or she is doing and can address the issues of my members.
What is your approach to conflict resolution? Not every situation requires a court appearance. Many times mediation is the way to go. Is an attorney or firm open to such forms of resolution? Many of our members report that our provider attorneys find ways to protect their rights without unnecessary litigation. The goal is to protect the interests of our members. Since we provide either no-cost or lower-cost trial services depending on the situation, the attorneys use trial time only when necessary. However, if they do have to take a case to trial, they’re ready to defend our members with all the legal muscle they can flex.
Will there be anyone else handling my work? Attorneys use paralegals for certain matters. However, do they do so extensively? Our attorneys take a hands-on approach, dealing with our members directly (something to which I can personally attest). In my case, it was clear the attorney did the bulk of the work. Again, it’s still a good question to ask, yet it’s nice knowing there is a system that gets you attorney involvement a good amount of the time.
Do you have any clients who could create conflicts? This was a big question for me, because I see our service growing to the point where 50% of all businesses use us (ambitious, I know). How we handle conflicts of interest was a concern. I learned we have a huge network of Preferred Referral Attorneys who can handle our members cases whenever conflicts arise, thus allaying any fears in this regard. That put me at ease, which boosted my confidence in offering our membership.
How long do you typically take to get back to people? Our attorneys must return a call within 8 business hours. Let me tell you, they take this seriously! Based on missed call logs, voicemail, and the like, I personally know our attorneys get back to members in a timely manner, making several attempts to connect (they don’t use the excuse “he or she didn’t pick up the phone, so I couldn’t connect”). If you’re reachable, they’ll find a way to contact you within the allotted time.
How do you typically communicate with your clients? Our system provides telephone consultations with members. Attorneys use email and fax for document transmission, but the preferred method of contact is via telephone, unless a member specifically requests an alternate method. However, the initial contact will always be via telephone (within 8 hours of the Provider Law Firm receiving the initial request for consultation).
How do you bill? Since our service is a membership, the flat monthly fee covers most of our members needs. If a member requires additional services, they’ll learn about them up front. Then a member will either submit a retainer or make some other suitable payment arrangement with the Provider or Referral Attorney.
Are there ways to reduce the cost of your services? Because we have a different model, we’re already providing quality legal services at a greatly discounted price ($2.50 per day or less). That works out to $75 per month (or less, depending on your plan), less than the cost of one hour of an attorney’s time (especially those with over 15 years experience), and covers most of the services a business owner uses on a regular basis. For those areas where it may fall into our reduced fee services, then you can discuss with your attorney different options. Depending on how willing you are to involve yourself in the process, you can potentially reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.
Do you belong to any specialized bar associations? A great question! Because our Provider Attorneys have extensive expertise in various fields, it’s a question best asked and answered on an individual basis.
Do you make referrals to other attorneys? Yep, all the time. As mentioned above, cases of conflict-of-interest, where a member lives too far for a Provider attorney to represent them in court, or where a specific expertise doesn’t exist in-house are all situations where we contract with a referral attorney to service our members.
I was happy to see that our membership stands up to the examination recommended by Entrepreneur online. More importantly, I’m ecstatic that we make on-call access to qualified legal counsel something any business owner can afford. More than ever, legal consultation is a necessity, not a luxury. Make sure to protect your business. Additionally, if it makes sense to protect your business, it makes just as much sense to protect yourself and your family. Thankfully, LegalShield does that as well through our Life Events Legal Plan. Give me a call and let’s discuss which plans are right for you.
- 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Small-Business Attorney (news.terra.com)
- How To Hire a Family Law Attorney (socyberty.com)