As a business owner, you probably try to avoid business litigation at all costs. Business litigation is a drain on your time, disrupts your life, interferes with your daily business operations, and can take an emotional and financial toll. Despite the best efforts of businesses, sometimes business litigation becomes necessary. If you have been sued, or you need to file your lawsuit, it is essential that you choose the best possible lawyer to represent your case. You need an experienced business litigation lawyer with an in-depth understanding of your case who will advocate strongly for you throughout the entire process. Below, we have listed some of the most important things to look for when hiring a business litigation lawyer to represent you.
1) What are the Qualifications of Your Lawyer?
When you are facing business litigation, you need an experienced lawyer who is familiar with business litigation. Take time to review your potential lawyers’ qualifications. Find out how much trial experience your potential lawyer has, as he or she will need to be experienced in court should your case go to trial. While most business litigation lawsuits settled before going to trial, there is always a possibility yours will go to trial. Lawyers who have recently begun to practice may not have the experience needed to represent you in court.
2) Will Your Lawyer Listen to Your Goals and Needs?
One of the most important aspects of hiring a lawyer is to make sure your lawyer will listen carefully to your needs and goals. You want to hire a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable and who will take the time to focus on and listen to your concerns. If your lawyer seems too busy to listen, or uncomfortable when answering your questions, that is a sign that you should look for another lawyer. You need a lawyer who will quickly understand your case, listen to your goals, and explain the process to you as you go through it.
3) Which Lawyer Will Handle Your Case?
In some law firms, you may meet with one lawyer but be assigned to a different lawyer. During the initial interview, it is essential to ask who will represent you throughout your business litigation. Will your case be assigned to a less experienced lawyer or even a paralegal? If you want a business litigation attorney to handle your matter all the way through, it is important to make your expectations known upfront.
4) How Much Does the Lawyer Charge?
During your initial interview, you may want to ask how your lawyer will bill you for services. In business litigation, most lawyers will bill by the hour. Many lawyers also require new clients to provide an upfront retainer, a lump sum amount paid before they begin working on a case. The lawyer will deduct money from the retainer as he or she works on your case and bills you for the hours worked.
While it is impossible to know precisely how much your total legal bill will be, your lawyer may be able to give you an estimate. Should your matter end up going to trial, the total expenses will be more significant. However, there is always a potential that the court will award you legal fees in the end. Understanding a ballpark estimate of your legal fees will help you plan for the future.
5) What Type of Client Agreement Will You Need to Sign?
Before your lawyer officially begins representing you, you will need to sign a client agreement, sometimes called an engagement agreement. This document will state your lawyer's fee structure, the amount of an upfront retainer, and any other terms that your lawyer requires for representing you. It is important to carefully read over the document to understand what the legal representation will involve. Once you sign this agreement, you will enter into a binding contract, so ensure that you ask your lawyer to explain anything in the contract you do not understand.
6) What are the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Case?
An experienced lawyer will be able to tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Sometimes, it can be difficult to hear about your case’s shortcomings, especially when you have been wronged. However, it is beneficial to have an accurate evaluation of your case, rather than learning about the weaknesses down the road. Anytime you are involved in business litigation, there is always a certain amount of risk because there is no certainty when a case goes before an arbiter, jury, or judge.
7) What Charges Will I See on My Bill?
During your initial consultation, you can ask about what types of fees will show up on your bill. In most cases, your lawyer will charge you out early, and he or she may charge a lower fee for paralegals or other office administrative staff who work on your case. If you see any changes that you were unsure about, it is important to discuss them with your lawyer and understand the law firm’s billing practices.
8) What is the Likely Outcome of the Action?
It is impossible to predict the future, but an experienced business litigation lawyer will often be able to help you understand the likely outcome of your case as you proceed through the process. For example, if you are in settlement negotiations, an experienced lawyer will often have a feel for how the negotiations will proceed.
Contact Solomon Appeals, Mediation & Arbitration Today
Attorney Donna Solomon has decades of experience in the area of business litigation. She is board certified by the Florida Bar as an Appellate Specialist and a Business Ligitagor. She is also one of only three certified attorneys in both appellate practice and business litigation. She is a Certified Public Accountant with an MBA in Finance. She focuses on getting to the heart of the matter. Contact Solomon Appeals, Mediation & Arbitration today to schedule your initial consultation.