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When it comes to hiring a lawyer, it’s better to be prepared than to be caught off guard. No business owner wants to begin screening law firms while dealing with a pending lawsuit or contract negotiation. But, whenever you decide to hire a lawyer, it’s good to keep these tips in mind:
1. Use credible resources, such as the American Bar Assn. Web site (www.abanet.org), which allows visitors to search state and county bar associates, and the Martindale-Hubbel Law Directory (www.martindale.com), a legal network that has been around for more than 133 years. Trusted word-of-mouth tips can also point you in the right direction — ask your small-business peers for recommendations.
2. Always interview two or three lawyers before making a final decision, and ask them questions such as: How long have you been in practice? Do you typically go to trial or settle out of court? If your business is currently dealing with a case, ask how many cases like yours that lawyer has handled. Ask for an estimate of how long and how costly the case will be.
3. Don’t sign anything until you’ve carefully reviewed the contract and thoroughly considered other offers. And don’t let lawyers overwhelm you with legal jargon — if you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.
National Federation of Independent Business Legal Foundation
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To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.