Counsel for Business

by Henry Mackey

2015 Legal Guide

An attorney is an important asset to a business at every stage, whether it is just beginning or has been running for many years. A lawyer’s expertise can help a business that is starting up with everything from employee agreements to exit strategies; if there is a product involved, a lawyer can help secure a patent or protect intellectual property. No small role is just having the assurance that the interests of the company are protected and that it is operating in compliance with applicable laws — of which the business owner might otherwise even be unaware. A lawyer provides insight from a legal angle, contributing crucial information that a business owner may not see.

In choosing a law firm to represent a business, it is important the business owner understand it is not “one size fits all.” Because law firms vary considerably in the practice areas they specialize in, a business must do research about what type of legal representation it needs.

Equally important as choosing the right law firm is choosing the right lawyer within the firm. The traditional resources of referral or word of mouth are augmented now by technology. These new methods include match-making between company and lawyer and even YouTube channels for individual lawyers. Many lawyers are now creating YouTube videos showcasing themselves and their coherence and affability.

What is critical is that the attorney whom a business hires be legally empowered to practice law. To practice law in Arizona, an attorney must be admitted to and an active member of the State Bar of Arizona. Relying on a non-lawyer for legal advice may not only not provide the business the guidance it seeks but may even cause it to lose some of the legal rights it had.

How to Choose a Lawyer

The State Bar Association of Arizona’s website offers these valuable tips:

  • Get recommendations from friends and family members who have had positive experiences with lawyers.
  • Search for lawyers by practice area or location at the State Bar’s online Find a Lawyer feature on its homepage.
  • Visit the lawyer’s website; see if they will answer some basic questions before you commit to meeting with them. Ask about their experience in handling your particular issues, and their availability to take client phone calls and respond to emails. Some lawyers insist that clients make appointments and will not answer client calls and emails. You will want someone who is accessible when you need them.
  • Consult a list of Certified Legal Specialists. The State Bar can provide a list of specialists in the areas of Bankruptcy, Criminal, Estate and Trust, Family Law, Injury and Wrongful Death, Real Estate, Tax and Workers’ Compensation.
  • There are also lawyer referral services, which, for a small fee, will help in finding a lawyer.

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