Many companies hire business lawyers to help them with legal matters and advice. You could benefit from hiring a business attorney regardless of your size. Larger companies often keep a team of lawyers on staff, while smaller businesses might hire an experienced lawyer to help them with some tasks regarding starting and running their business. Whatever your reasoning for needing legal help, it’s always best to find an attorney with the right expertise. This article will break down the cost of a small business lawyer and a little more about why they’re so helpful.
What is a Business Attorney?
Business attorneys handle various tasks relating to a business's legal matters. They help companies with legal advice and issues, like conflict resolution, business formation and structuring, compliance, and mergers and acquisitions. Defining exactly what business attorneys do can seem complicated because their work varies so much across the board and by company.
Business lawyers often have various experiences in either large corporations or small businesses. They can be hired out for special litigation proceedings if they have expertise in the particular area needed.
Business Lawyer Requirements
Any practicing lawyer has to follow a few different requirements. Business lawyers must have a Juris Doctor law degree, successfully pass the bar exam, and have a valid state license. These three requirements are crucial, no matter what type of law an attorney wishes to practice. Business lawyers should also possess specific skills to be successful. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Strong verbal and written communication
- Excellent critical thinking
- Problem-solving skills
- Critical and analytical thinking
- Leadership qualities
- Negotiation skills
- Knowledge of the industry where they’re providing counsel
What Do Business Attorneys Do?
What a business attorney does depends on how big the business is and what industry they operate in. Business lawyers can assist with everything from contracts and agreements to risks and liabilities. They help with any legal issues the company may have and are usually present when a business is created, restructured, or sold.
Some larger corporations have a team of lawyers on staff, while small businesses may consult with an attorney only when they need specific help. A company can find the right attorney for the job if it requires outside counsel. Regardless of your business's industry, chances are you will need a business attorney at some point. Here are a few items a business lawyer can help out with:
- Contracts and agreements, ensuring you know what you’re signing and any legal implications.
- Registration of business structure and other necessary licenses.
- Conflicts regarding the sale and purchase of stocks or the company.
- Data or security breaches.
- Tax forms, audits, and knowing which tax deductions to expect.
- Risks and liabilities to help you avoid any lawsuits.
- Navigating finances.
- Lawsuit mitigation to avoid lawsuits and keep situations from escalating.
- Operating businesses across state lines and through eCommerce.
- Company restructuring and helping a business adjust to a new law or ownership.
- Transferring shares in a company.
- Drafting, reviewing, and negotiating business contracts.
- Ensuring all relevant laws and regulations are followed.
- Examining legal matters and reporting any problems to appropriate parties.
- Overseeing the process when a business dissolves.
How Much Does a Business Lawyer Cost?
Your business attorney's cost will depend on their experience, the firm they work for, the case's complexity, and the average hourly rate in your area. Small business attorney fees will differ from services provided by more prominent law firms. Larger firms tend to charge more per hour since they have more resources available to them.
Business lawyers may charge different fees depending on the task and what is required. For example, their rates for doing legal research might be lower than they would be for appearing in a court case. Hourly fees for business attorneys typically range from $150 to $325 per hour. But, these fees can vary depending on the factors mentioned. When you hire a business attorney, the amount they charge is dependent on these factors:
- Experience of the lawyer
- The complexity of the specific case
- Size of the firm they work for
- The average hourly rate in your area
Business Lawyers Fee Structures
Business lawyers generally structure their legal fees for small business as hourly fees. Others might prefer a flat fee if the case is relatively simple or routine, like reviewing business contracts. Two other billing structures, contingency and statutory fees, could be used. They are only used in particular cases, such as settlement and bankruptcy cases. The best fee structure is whatever is best for the client, so lawyers will make sure that the pay structure works for you and your company.
1. Hourly Fee
As mentioned, hourly fees are very common for business lawyers. Using this type of fee structure, the number of hours the lawyer works is multiplied by their hourly rate to give you your total. Hourly fees work well for business lawyers when handling various duties, including writing business contracts and operating agreements, handling breach of contract litigation, and completing other business-related services.
2. Flat Fee
Small business lawyers also use flat fees as many services they offer are standard. They might draw up a commercial lease, write contracts, or help with business formation. These tasks and others are all pretty typical for business lawyers, and since they know what to expect, it’s easier to charge a flat fee. However, this flat fee for small business lawyers doesn’t always include legal costs, which the client should pay directly.
Things To Consider When Hiring a Business Lawyer
There are a few key things companies should consider when they set about hiring a business lawyer. Choosing the best attorney for your business is a critical first step. Companies should start by evaluating their legal needs and budget. Consider the reasons for hiring a lawyer. What are the company’s legal requirements?
Narrowing down your answer to that question will help you find the right attorney. Asking about how legal fees are structured is another critical consideration. Payments can be structured in a few different ways, so make sure you know what to expect. Other items companies should take into consideration include location, credentials, specialization, and resources.
You will want to hire an attorney familiar with the area, including any local laws or regulations that your business deals with. Do some research about the attorney and their experience. Some lawyers have unique credentials and specializations that may be vital to your business’s operations. Besides knowing the attorney you’re hiring, you’ll want to know what kind of resources are available to them as well.
Value of a Business Lawyer
The value of a business attorney is in their expertise. Hiring a lawyer to help your business throughout the formation and restructuring process is vital, as is having someone knowledgeable to turn to when you need contracts written, are going through an IRS audit, or need litigation advice.
Every kind of company, from startups to large corporations, will benefit from using a business lawyer. They can help you avoid lawsuits and other litigation that could be detrimental or distracting to your business while also making specific processes in your business's formation and structuring that much easier.
Whatever your reason for hiring a business attorney, knowing how they structure their fees can help you decide what your business can afford and what tasks would be most helpful for the attorney to handle.