By Michael J. “Mick” McGirr, Esq. | Phocus Law
One thing that I’ve realized in my roughly 10 years of practicing law is that businesspeople who know when and how to use attorneys, and who have a good relationship with an attorney or law firm, often love that relationship and get a lot of value out of it. The rest of the businesspeople who do not know when and how, or do not have a valued legal relationship are intimidated by the prospect of involving attorneys in their business life and end up missing out on a great deal of added value that can come from a properly utilized legal relationship.
The purpose of this article will provide a quick perspective, from the mind of an attorney, of how you could be benefiting from having a legal professional ready to answer your calls. While this may seem like a shameless advertising plug, I disagree. Whether you use me or my firm as that legal resource, I encourage you to identify someone whom you work well with and who understands your needs along with the position of your business within the framework of your industry.
Let’s start with the ‘when,’ meaning when should you be utilizing an attorney? When do you hire an electrician? You hire an electrician when you encounter an issue that requires (or may require) expert knowledge in wiring and electricity. When do you see a doctor? You see a doctor 1). when you have a health concern and want a diagnosis, insight into, and a cure for the issue and 2). on a regular basis for ‘check-ups,’ to make sure that there are no health issues that you are unaware of but that a doctor can easily identify through regular contact with you. The ‘when’ of using an attorney should be similar to these two examples. First, you should use an attorney like an electrician, consulting with legal counsel when you encounter an issue of import that is best understood by an individual or team of individuals who are experienced in dealing with legal issues. Further, you should see an attorney like you see a doctor – for instance when you are seeking a diagnosis of a problem you know exists, you want to understand the issue better, and ultimately seek a remedy. Additionally, like a doctor, you should allow your relationship with your attorney to include regular contact and an exchange of ideas, whereby your attorney will be able to provide the same type of continuing care that a doctor does through check-ups.
Now let’s address the question of ‘how’ to utilize an attorney in your business. My clients who seem to get the most bang for the buck out of their attorney-client relationship with me are those who treat me as a trusted part of their team. I would recommend finding legal counsel whom you communicate well with, an attorney who takes an interest in your business and is at a price point that works with your business. Once you’ve found that right fit, I recommend having an engagement with the attorney where the attorney knows that, if you are reaching out with legal questions, you understand that you are going to be a paying customer. I am always happy to give my clients bits of free legal advice, but I am comfortable doing this because I know they will not balk at the price tag to accomplish the projects they bring to me. Figure out how you and your attorney communicate best, whether that be by phone, email, or in person. Then, become accustomed to including your attorney in the key moments in your business life, allowing them the opportunity to share insight and knowledge from a legal perspective.
Finally, let’s talk about finding the right attorney for you. I am an easygoing guy, and I have a wonderful team of attorneys here with me at Phocus Law. But personalities are not one-size-fits-all. Therefore, find an attorney whom you feel understands what you are saying when you speak about your business. You don’t need to be best friends, but communication is a crucial element of a successful attorney-client relationship. Also, realize that you may need more than one attorney. While certain firms, like my firm Phocus Law, are general business firms, you will find that there are certain areas of law that even a general practitioner does not cover. If you come to me for a landlord/tenant dispute, I will likely refer you to another firm for that particular issue, as I know that there is a specific lawyer who can provide a deeper level of expertise, and often do so more efficiently, than if I tried to wear every legal hat.
Therefore, start your search for the right legal contact soon. I am happy to speak with you as part of that search and also happy to put you in touch with other members of the Phocus Law team. What matters to me is that you find the right fit for you and begin experiencing the benefits that come from having a trusted, knowledgeable legal resource as part of your core team. For additional information, I can be reached by email at Mick@PhocusCompanies.com or by phone at 602-457-2191.