Your Lawyer As A Valuable Tool In Your Toolbox
I Chose A Lawyer, Now What?
In our recent post, we tackled how to choose a lawyer. But then the question becomes, ok, now what? So let’s explore your lawyer’s role in your business and why it’s good to reach out to your lawyer sooner rather than later. We’ve also included how to get our free “legal health checklist” to help you better understand where your legal pain points may be and how to address them with your lawyer.
When Should I Call My Lawyer?
We hear this question a lot, and it’s a good one. Do you call your lawyer only when you have a problem? Can she review a contract you’ve already received? Our answer is to think of your lawyer as a resource for advice and legal guidance as you operate so reach out whenever you aren’t sure what to do legally. You can always decide if something isn’t in the budget after you get a quote. Having an established relationship with a lawyer, much like finding the right stylist, can help you avoid bigger costs (or terrible hair choices) down the road. So if you’re thinking of starting a business, or signing a contract with a new client, it is likely prudent to approach your lawyer sooner rather than later.
Establishing a relationship means your lawyer can be your advocate through the entire process rather than at the last minute, when costly mistakes have already been made or time is extremely limited. Think of it like cutting your own bangs — you can probably do it, but you will still likely end up having your hairstylist fix mistakes. That doesn’t mean you can’t reach out last minute, as we said before, it’s always better to reach out!
At Trellis, we often help our clients navigate business relationships or advise on best practices long before a client needs a formal document review or representation in a negotiation. We purposefully chose the name Trellis Legal because we are a support system for our clients to grow, just like trellises in the garden provide support for plants to grow.
Like a Good Coach, an Established Legal Relationship Means You Have Someone In Your Corner
When COVID-19 hit, our clients knew they could reach out to us to help them navigate the difficult questions they were facing, and we prioritized their businesses’ survival over attracting new clients. Starting from scratch at that point would have added even more stress. That’s why having an established relationship with your attorney can make difficult situations less stressful. You can reach out when you have questions, know who to go to, and feel safer in your decisions.
Cool, But Isn’t Calling My Lawyer Expensive?
Lawyers are often seen as an expensive last resort for when things go south, but really your lawyer should be seen as an ongoing asset to you. Think of your lawyer as another trusted tool in your business toolbox!
Some lawyers charge for calling them or emailing them, so it’s important to understand your lawyer's pricing structure. At Trellis, we won’t charge you for just reaching out. After you reach out and give us a brief rundown, then we give you a quote. You’ll know how much services will cost, and you can make an informed decision based on your budget. We always want you to view contacting your lawyer as a first option.
Lawyers can also provide referrals to other professionals like accountants or financial advisors, or direct you to another specialized attorney who may be more experienced in a particular area in which you need help. So you should should reach out to your lawyer even if you think something may not quite be in their purview. They can be a great resource for helping you identify the right person to talk to.
A unique way in which Trellis is providing more than just traditional legal services is through our new Trellis Resources List. Sign up for the resources mailing list on our home page , and we’ll send free legal tools directly to your inbox. This month we’re offering a free legal health checklist! Use this checklist to figure out where your legal health is strong and when it might be time for a check up.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
A lawyer can help you understand what your immediate and long term legal needs are and how to budget for them. While you may not be able to afford to have your lawyer do all your legal work, they can help you determine the highest priorities and triage them. Remember, you are an expert in running your business, it’s ok not to know everything about the legal considerations.
On a Related Note: Check out our post, The Low-Down on Legal Costs in which we break down how to allocate your legal budget.
When In Doubt, Just Reach Out!
Reach out early. Reach out often. If an individual need is beyond your budget, that’s ok. It’s better to know your options beforehand rather than when you’re in the thick of a tricky situation.
We hope this removes some of the smoke and mirrors around how to work with an attorney. We’re always happy to be more than a drafter of legal documents and want to see our clients truly succeed, which is why, we always tell our clients, “when in doubt, just reach out!”
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Readers should discuss their specific situation with an attorney.