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Should a Small Business Hire a Big Law Firm?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on March 09, 2016 10:12 AM

You are going into business and you know you need some stuff -- computers, a printer, maybe an office, definitely a website, and possibly some employees. Do you also need an attorney? And if so, how do you know whether to go with a big fancy firm or a small law office or even a solo practitioner?

Much depends on what you are doing, your business, and what you hope to achieve. But there are some general principles to keep in mind when deciding whether to go big or go small. And you may find that going small serves more purposes than just saving money.

The Price of Big Law

You like the sound of a law firm that's got a lot of names, a high-end address, and brand allure. But just like you will pay more for a brand in clothing -- without necessarily getting a better quality product or a more stylish one or one suited to your needs -- with a fancy firm, you are basically paying for the brand. And it costs a lot to make a place seem posh, so that's what your money is paying for in part.

If you hire a big firm, you will pay for the enviable address, partner bonuses, and new associate research, meaning you are not necessarily buying the best, wisest, most experienced legal counsel. But you are buying a brand and that has a value of its own -- depending on what you do and who you deal with this may have a value to you.

Whether that brand value translates into work worth what is being charged for it is another question, especially if you are a small business. Associates at big firms are groomed very slowly and over many years, learning how to do what other lawyers might start doing for their clients right away.

The Advantages of Small Law

A small firm might work for you if you have a bunch of different areas you want to consider and you'd like the advice of more than just one lawyer but don't want to keep looking. Perhaps you are interested in getting work visas for prospective employees who are abroad and you need help with your incorporation, compliance issues, and more. In that case, consider a small firm with multiple attorneys.

The Solo Lawyer

A solo practitioner is often perfect for a small business because your lawyer is also a small business person with a struggle similar to yours and an understanding of it that is expansive. No lawyer will be perfect for every situation but if you can find a solo practitioner you trust, this is a good option.

How will you know if you can trust your lawyer? Talk to the person. Schedule a consultation and prepare a list of questions, and get a sense of how you feel about the person. To determine who is the right lawyer for you talk to a few.

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