Most small businesses don’t have the capital to afford paying for all the resources that they might need to ensure, or at least increase the chances of success of their business. It is perhaps why they are called a “small business.” At such, their main focus will usually be on effective marketing of their business (and its products or services) to ensure that sales are made and that the business can stay afloat.
There are however many other aspects of the business that, while not as critical as the marketing function, can still play a critical role in the success or otherwise of the business, and for which neglect can spell doom for or of the business. One such area is with regards the legal environment and all the laws that govern the industry within which such a business operates.
That the law can often be such a complex thing is a well-known fact. So much so that the average person or business owner would not be caught dead trying to understand it. Which is exactly why many small business owners usually outsource this function when it concerns their business, instead of trying to go it alone, like they might sometimes do for their businesses’ marketing, IT, or book-keeping functions.
For any business owner who would rather save costs by trying to handle his legal matters him or herself, the benefits of outsourcing are easily learned after a business compliance issue has been broken and the consequences felt, as a simple misstep by the business owner or any of its employees can cost the business everything. The number one benefit of outsourcing one’s legal needs, is that it frees up the business owner to focus all their energies on growing the business, instead of trying to understand legal jargon. However, one other benefit that can be derived by outsourcing one’s legal needs is the fact that it negates (or reduces) the necessity of having to deal with HR functions.
The question then remains, what is the proper or best way to go about outsourcing a small business’s legal needs?
The first and most important step of course, must include proper research. Conducting proper research to determine what options are available to you, analysing those options, and making an informed decision is key to the success or otherwise of your legal outsourcing project.
Ensuring that the candidate attorneys or law firms that have been shortlisted have the requisite and relevant small business experience is perhaps the first part of this research. To this end, a local and experienced small business attorney might be more appropriate for a New York based small business, as will other local law firms suffice for other cities or states.
Once you have a shortlist of candidates, administering the questionnaire which should have been pre-prepared, to help you determine the suitability of the attorney for the job at hand, is the next step in the process.
Of course, the more detailed and in-depth the questionnaire, the better you can sift out the lawyers who might not necessarily have what it takes to represent your legal needs.
Additionally, you should be sure to, where possible, independently verify some of the critical things that these attorneys tell you during the interview process.
Without a doubt, some of the things that should be contained in the questionnaire include things like:
- What their success and fail rates are.
- How long they have been practicing. And for how long have they been working with small businesses.
- How much time would they have available per week to dedicate to your business.
- Who among their team members will be available to work on any project of yours as it comes on stream. You will want to know who these people are and research their legal background (training, experience, etc.)
Lastly, one other very important element that must be present in your outsourced legal project is continuous and ongoing communication with the attorney or attorneys in question. Good and efficient communication is an important element in pretty much any facet of life and it is no different in the case of the outsourced legal needs of your small business.
Constant and consistent communication ensures that both parties are always on the same page, and ensures that once they begin to veer off in different directions, then there is an opportunity to discuss these things and nip things in the bud before they are too far gone.