What do you do when you need an attorney? You could be in the unenviable position of requiring an attorney because of a problem at your insurance agency. Or, alternatively, you'd like to be proactive and you need some legal advice. How do you find an attorney who's right for your insurance agency?
Talk to a Lawyer Before You Need One
According to Entrepreneur Magazine, "The time to hook up with a good business lawyer is before you are sued." That way, you actually have the time to consider who you need to connect with and make sure that individual is the right fit for your business. A business attorney will give you advice in different areas of your business, such as business incorporation and the procedures that you need to take to avoid liability.
Should You Go Big?
Larger law firms usually have a higher amount of overhead. This means that you will potentially pay more for a lawyer from a larger firm. However, larger firms can also have specialists who focus on your area of expertise, making them more valuable to you as a business. For instance, if you need advice about starting up a new business location and you need to make sure that your contracts with clients are sound, these are two different areas of expertise. A smaller firm might be able to provide these services under one roof, but a larger firm definitely can. It's just a matter of the cost that you're willing to pay for overhead.
Look for Connections and Clout
Look for a firm with a feeling of clout and a network that allows you to connect with others who could be helpful to your business. Entrepreneur says that a "letter from a "powerhouse" law firm with offices in 30 states is a lot more intimidating than a nasty letter from a solo practitioner who is not admitted to practice in the defendant's state." You want to work with a law firm that has an excellent reputation and that can introduce you to people who are key to the success of your business.
For instance, if you're getting E&O insurance and you're curious about the ways in which your business could be liable for an error or a data breach, your lawyer might be able to point you to others who can help you hone your privacy protocols to safeguard your clients' information.
Seek Out Experience in Your Specific Field
Since law is becoming more specialized, it's likely and it's helpful to you to find a lawyer who has experience in your very specific field. When you're talking with a lawyer, make sure that he or she has worked with other, similar businesses. Your lawyer should be able to act as a coach to help you make sure that you're doing things right, not just step in when things go wrong.
While you can ask friends about the lawyers that they have used, sometimes they have used a lawyer for an entirely different type of business, and that person's expertise will be irrelevant to you.
Figure Out Who Will Be Doing the Work
If you're working with a larger firm, you might talk with one person, but another person could do the actual work on your case. Make sure that you know who is working with you, and ensure that person has the expertise to do this work. Connect with that person to make sure you trust him or her and enjoy working with the individual. According to Forbes, "As long as a lawyer is qualified in the area of practice you need, the “best” lawyer for you is often the one you can imagine building a long-term relationship and rapport with."
Look for Legal Advice Through Your Existing Channels
If you're just looking for a small amount of legal advice, you could potentially find a lawyer through resources that you already access. For instance, at American Agents Alliance, the free legal hotline can help you with answers to your questions. You'll also get to try out an attorney and see if you connect well with that person. You can then choose to retain that attorney if you wish.