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  • Marlene

How To Choose A Lawyer: Size Can Matter

We don’t want to be inappropriate, but when it comes to courting a lawyer, size matters. There are giant, multinational firms out there and law firms with one person - solo practitioners, and every size in between. One size is not inherently better than the rest just depends on your legal needs and how best to meet them.

Is a Large Legal Firm for Me?

This is probably the image in your head when you think of a lawyer, right? Large firms can sometimes get a bad reputation, but there are certain situations in which a large firm could be the right fit for you. 

How Big/Broad is Your Business?

Large firms will likely have big teams of lawyers with an expertise spanning industries and geographical areas. If you have complex business issues or operate on a broader geographical scope (locations in multiple states or countries), large firms might be better situated to address your needs. 

What Will the Relationship Look Like?

You will likely have a relationship with a partner who is responsible for your case. He or she will offer expertise and like a manager, have final decision-making power. However, there may be a team of people working who help him/her do the research and draft documents. 

What Does that Cost?

Large firms are equipped to handle complex issues, which need many hands. You will be paying for the research and expertise (and overhead!) of a larger number of people. This can mean you can get expedited or round the clock service. However, those services can come with a high price tag. So it’s important to understand what you’re getting and how that balances with your needs and your budget. 

Is a Small Legal Firm for Me?

We may be biased, but small firms can be a great starting point or long term solution. 

How Big/Broad is Your Business?

Small firms may be better suited for a small to medium-sized business with specific legal needs. Often someone in a small firm will have developed very detailed expertise on a focused set of issues. For example, at Trellis, we’ve carved a niche in serving small, independent businesses and nonprofits and even specialize in food, agricultural, and creative businesses. If your legal needs match with that expertise, the small-firm lawyer may serve you better than a large firm.  

What Will The Relationship Look Like?

A small firm may better understand and relate to your business. Smaller businesses have unique considerations, and an attorney focused on drafting contracts and providing advice in a way that understands these considerations, is a huge benefit. It makes a difference if a lawyer is drafting something that another lawyer will look at (more common in large businesses) or something another small business or individual will look at. 

In a small firm, it is likely you will get more one-on-one attention.  A lawyer in a small firm will have a clear idea of his/her capacity to serve clients thoroughly. Typically you will be dealing with one attorney and develop a close relationship throughout the representation. 

What Does that Cost?

The cost of services from a small-firm lawyer will likely be lower. With far less overhead, smaller firms typically have more manageable price points for your budget and more flexibility in pricing than a large firm. 

And remember - you can adapt! You can always start with one firm and switch down the road.

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