Thursday, June 24, 2010

Working With Lawyers

Be Picky.
Be extremely picky when you are selecting your lawyer. You need to trust this person and you want to have a very positive feeling when with this person.

Assume they will annoy you.
Remember they get paid to worry about you. They will be saying many things you don't want to hear. Don't think that you picked the wrong one when they start annoying you.

Work a stock deal.
Lawyers are really expensive. When you have no cash and are just starting, stock deals are good deals for them and also for you.

Get clear estimates in writing.
Try to get their cost estimations on a project. Always set project cost caps. It is very easy for their work to bust your piggy banks. Set limits up front.

Be frugal.
If you send something to them, assume they will spend time (money) evaluating it. If you know it's not worth the cost or is not important, don't send it to them. If you do send it, at least tell them where to focus.

Ask them for a risk analysis.
What risk does doing this bring to our company? What is the potential monetary cost of this risk? How often does this risk take place? Remember, lawyers are extremely risk averse. But in the business sense, you may not always be able to be "risk free". It is their job to provide you data. It is your job to make the hard decisions.

Don't play lawyer.
Just call them up. You don't know what you are doing.

Read everything you sign.
Even if it is legal speak. Try to understand it as well as you can.

Don't take accounting advice from your lawyer, and don't take legal advice from your accountant.

Your first and primary business lawyer can also be a great mentor. There is a lot in business law to learn. Someone who is interested in teaching it to you is extremely valuable.

You want to find a lawyer that will listen to you. In order to do their job very well, they need to understand you and your situation. If they don't listen to you they won't know what they need to know.

Sometimes you have you tell your lawyer no. Not often, but sometimes. Don't be afraid of sometimes telling your lawyer, "No, we are not doing that right now."