- Erin Holliday
There’s Nothing Scary About Working With a Good Lawyer
Updated: Feb 28
Maybe you’re haunted by a legal question, or just want the assurance that you’re appropriately protecting your business. Maybe you’re ready to take your business to the next level, like hiring some employees, changing your tax election, or bringing on some investors or business partners. We know that calling a lawyer can be kind of spooky, and we get it. Sharing your concerns and questions regarding something you work so hard at can be vulnerable and complicated.
“What if they tell me I’m doing everything wrong?” Chances are, you probably aren’t. And even if you are making a few mistakes, small business lawyers are in this game to help you succeed. We are advisors, confidants, and trusted experts who can help you find the answers you need to questions you weren’t sure how to ask. This blog provides a few steps and reassurances (and some absolutely cringeworthy puns) to help you face your fears, and learn that working with a lawyer is not as scary as you think!
Step 1: Brush Away the Cobwebs.
It’s okay if you haven’t looked at your legal in a while. Or maybe your current client agreement looks like Frankenstein's monster – held together by a combination of mismatched clauses and prayers. Or, maybe you’re due for a legal health check-up. Your small business lawyer will begin by trying to best understand your situation – how you’re organized, how you operate, and where you could use some help. Sometimes clients come to us with specific problems, and sometimes they come with a general need. And sometimes they come to us with no idea what they should be doing. Whatever your reason for reaching out, we’ll work to understand your business and legal needs specific to you.
We recommend finding a lawyer you like and establishing a relationship with them early on, so when you do call with an issue, they know you and your business and can provide you with the tools to get you out of a bind. We’ve said it before, an established legal relationship means you have someone in your corner (speaking of cobwebs). You can reach out when you have questions, know who to go to, and feel safer in your decisions.
Read more about your first call to a lawyer in our blog post covering what to bring and what it will be like. Also, if you do feel like you have some dark corners of your business legal, Trellis offers a free legal health checklist resource and end-of-year check-in (which works any time of year really, although it is October, and that’s getting there!)
Step 2: Take Off the Mask.
It’s okay if you aren’t sure if you’re doing something the right way. We’re here to hear you out and help you protect yourself going forward. Conversations with your lawyer are protected by attorney-client privilege. This privilege is an affirmative one raised in the face of a legal demand where your lawyer cannot be required to disclose communications that occurred for purposes of legal advice. (Although, communications made by a client in front of a third party – like your boyfriend or friend – are not protected by this privilege.)
There’s no need for masks or costumes when you work with a lawyer. We’re here to help you. We need to be able to have the full picture to give the most appropriate and comprehensive advice and help you take the best approach.
At Trellis, we never charge our clients to reach out with a question because we want you to feel like you can come as you are and ask us what you need to. After you reach out and give us a brief rundown, then we will give you a quote so you can know how much services will cost, and you can make an informed decision based on your budget. (Also, read our blogpost about getting the biggest bang for your buck from your lawyer for more on this.) Also, never be afraid to ask a lawyer what their pricing policy is and when you will be charged. It’s your right to know and helps you plan (much like bringing a flashlight to an abandoned spooky mansion)!
Step 3: Make your Perfect Potion.
Double double toil and trouble! There is a right concoction for everyone, and everyone’s legal needs are different. You should find a lawyer who can help you with your specific questions and with a personality that works for you. (Read our blog post about being choosy when choosing a lawyer.) If your needs are something we can’t help you with or aren’t in our wheelhouse, we know a few other lawyers with different expertise who likely can or will point you in the right direction.
Often, we are not here to tell you the exact solution for your needs. It’s up to you to pick your potion. We often provide pros and cons, risks and caution, and help you prioritize and triage your legal needs based on what you need and the level of protection you’re comfortable with.
For example, when someone is starting a new business, we often recommend a new entity, like an LLC, working with an accountant, creating solid contracts and agreements, getting the right insurance for your needs, and a whole concoction of others depending on the specific business. (See our list of business resources!) These are recommendations, and it’s up to each individual business owner (or owners) to figure out what they want to do and how they want to best protect their work.
Who You Gonna Call?
Lawyers are often seen as an expensive last resort for when things go bump in the night, but really your lawyer should be seen as an ongoing asset to you. Sure, we’re like the ghostbusters – here to help you when you’re in a bind (and we can rock a mean jumpsuit) – but we’re also here to be proactive. We can help you understand complicated zoning requirements, the terms of a commercial lease, or what you need to bring on employees so you can comply right out of the gate. We can build you solid contracts and work to negotiate terms so all parties involved are on the same page at the start.
There are people who bust ghosts and then there are people who sage the crap out of their house – who’d prefer to help avoid the issue of a ghost ever even getting into the premises in the first place. Your transactional business attorney thrives there. And we’re happy to pick up the phone.