Finding a Lawyer

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Finding and hiring a lawyer is one of the most important things a new startup can do. The lawyer will help draft the necessary paperwork to establish the entity, whether an LLC, corporation or partnership (in the U.S.) or a private limited company (Ltd) or limited liability partnership (LLP) (in the U.K.). He or she can also advise of the legal aspects at all stages and of particular requirements of the state or country where the business is located.

With increased specialization, many lawyers aren’t familiar with business needs. However, law firms focussed on helping start ups are becoming increasingly common and there are several ways to find the right one. These include word of mouth recommendations from other entrepreneurs, and if you are working out of a workspace, such as WeWork, searching the network where you are based or asking someone in the community for a recommendation. In the U.S, many state bar associations also have a lawyer referral service, and there are of course a host of web sites that can help locate a lawyer. If you know a lawyer, simply ask him or her if they can work with you or if they have any recommendations (it's a surprisingly small world out there so someone is bound to be able to point you in the right direction!).

You need to find someone that is familiar with small businesses and corporations, that has a solid reputation, and that you are able to work with. Don’t hesitate to ask for references, and to understand charges and fees that can be expected; fees will vary from firm to firm and lawyer to lawyer.

A final point, an entrepreneur is better served by a local firm who specializes in what you are looking for rather than attempting to simply copy something on line on those free legal service websites. While these services are great at getting you information and working as placeholders for necessary legal materials, most wouldn’t stand up in an actual law suit.

If anything, prepare the documents you need using a free service, and then hire a lawyer to go in and modify them specifically to your company and needs. This will save you both a lot of time and give you a much more solid foundation on the legal end of things.

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