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Member of Your Business Team"
How Do I
Find A Qualified Business Attorney
If you are a small business, you should concentrate on small business
attorneys, ideally with experience in your specific business, as each
business shall have its own set of legal and regulatory circumstances.
Hopefully, you will know one or more trustworthy small business persons
in California in similar circumstances who can refer you to an attorney.
If not, you must do some homework. On the Internet, you can Google
search for an attorney in your area of interest in your area of concern
Then, check at http://members.calbar.ca.gov/search/member.aspx
(California State Bar) to determine the disciplinary status and other
information for each attorney candidate. Once you have at least 3
qualified candidates, call each of them and explain your situation and
listen to their feedback. Your instincts should determine the right
attorney candidate from these calls. In close calls, ask to physically
interview each without cost.
During your calls to attorney candidates, ask them if they have personal
business experience in the area of your business. Ask them if they are a
"general counsel" or a litigator, as litigators are many times
unavailable, and usually have a different mindset, as discussed more
fully below. If they are unfamiliar with the "general counsel"
term, they are probably not a good candidate.
General counsel do not usually litigate and are there to advise and
service you, when you need it. General counsel aim to keep you out of
court. If you are unfortunate enough to need or defend litigation, your
general counsel will refer you to the most appropriate litigation
attorney or firm and thereafter monitor and manage the costs of
litigation, which could otherwise spiral out of control.
Ideally, your general counsel will have sufficient prior litigation
experience in order to do the foregoing effectively. Also, he or she
will be able to draft contracts with an eye towards staying out of
litigation or litigating in a friendly venue. For example, the existence
(or lack thereof) of a contact clause providing for a prevailing
party’s right to attorney fees can mean the difference between having
(or not having) litigation.
In addition, a general counsel, rather than a litigator, is more likely
to give you all the advice you want or need and then get out of the way
so as not to frustrate your business goals. Business risk is your
decision, not a lawyer’s. Once a transaction’s basic terms and
conditions have been negotiated, a good general counsel will rapidly
draft an industry standard agreement reasonably slanted to protect you
in sensitive areas, as simply stated as safely possible, customized to
your particular circumstances and risk tolerance levels, oftentimes for
a fixed fee.
As Dan Harper, an acknowledged corporate counsel, so ably states, “It
is very easy to just say ‘no’ when a controversial issue arises,
this is easy because we can’t get into too much trouble by taking the
ultra conservative approach. However, after so many ‘nos’, the
company will soon go out of business because it won’t be able to sell
"As in-house [general] counsel, we must always remember that we are
here to serve the client, it exists to sell goods or services and to
make money. It does not exist to provide gainful employment for
attorneys. Hence, we must do what we can to further that mission,
balance the risks against the benefits, including the mission of the
company – making money and thereby keeping all of us employed.” Do
Law Firm Lawyers Really Know What It's Like to Be an In-House Lawyer?
Dan Harper, Corporate Counsel, 9/10/2010.
Armed with the foregoing, I hope you find the ideal attorney for your
business in California.
The purpose of this article is to provide information, rather than
advice or opinion. It is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of the
date of the article. I have no duty to update this article. The
information, examples and suggestions presented in this article have
been developed from sources believed to be reliable. This article should
not be viewed as a substitute for the guidance and recommendations of a
retained professional and should not be construed as legal or other
professional advice. In addition, I do not endorse any actions addressed
herein, unless they are produced or created by me. I recommend
consultation with me or other competent legal counsel and/or other
professional advisors before applying this material to any particular
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Questions to ask Beal Business
Who should I ask about getting an attorney?
Where do I find the right lawyer?
Are there lawyer searching websites on the Web?
Can I use the Internet to find a lawyer?
Should I get a list of lawyers and call all of them?
Does the bar association have a list of attorneys?
Are litigators different than corporate counsel?
Do corporate counsel litigate?
Are there such a thing as small business lawyers?
Should I outsource general counsel services?
How do I save money if I outsource general counsel services?
Would a corporate counsel or general counsel come to my business?
Is there a difference between a corporate counsel and a general counsel?
Should my small business have a general counsel?