As a business owner it’s likely that at some point during the life of your business you will need to engage with a solicitor.
There are many reasons why you might need to do so which include buying or leasing commercial property, dealing with HR issues or negotiating contracts with suppliers and customers.
Whilst to a large extent your experience of engaging with a solicitor will be dependent on the individual solicitor or the firm involved, there are a number of things that you can do which will help ensure that your experience is positive and that you get as much out of it as you can.
Siobhan Williams, Associate Solicitor at Darwin Gray shares some tips for business owners to help ensure that you get the best out of your solicitor:
Find a solicitor that you can relate to and who genuinely understands you and your business. Ideally find someone who has undertaken the same type of work before.
Taking advice early on
If you have engaged a solicitor to advise you on a particular matter, ask for their advice before making any significant decisions or speaking with third parties. There’s no point in engaging a solicitor and not using them before you make key decisions. If you do not consult with your solicitor before making crucial decisions then you may end up in difficulty legally.
Resources and payment
Be clear as to what resources you have for legal costs. It is sometimes possible to agree fixed fees for specific pieces of work, however other matters are usually chargeable by the hour. Have an upfront honest discussion with your solicitor as to what costs are likely to be for your particular matter. Your solicitor will give you estimates at various stages of your matter, but these estimates are based on the information available to them at the time. If things change, or something unexpected crops up, the fee estimate is likely to be revised and you should be prepared for this.
It is important for you to assess how important your particular matter is to you. You should always carry out a costs/benefit analysis when instructing a solicitor to make sure that you do not end up spending a fortune in legal fees on something that does not have much value commercially. Similarly, it is worth investing in areas which are likely to protect your business’ position in the future, or if it will yield savings elsewhere. Remember that if your matter is particularly urgent, the fees may be subject to an uplift, so take advice in good time where possible.
Providing paperwork and important information
Make sure you give your solicitor all relevant information and papers. Depending on the matter involved, it might be useful to put together a short narrative or chronology setting out what happened when, attaching all relevant documents. The more you can package up the important information, the easier your solicitor’s task will be.
Be clear about any deadlines you have for the work, and have a discussion with your solicitor as to whether the deadline is realistic / achievable.
Digesting the advice
Read what your solicitor sends you. It is important that you read thoroughly and understand the documents and advice that your solicitor sends you. Your solicitor will have spent a good deal of time carefully crafting advice and documents and it is important that you familiarise yourself with what is in them, otherwise you may miss crucial information. If you don’t understand something, then ask for further clarity. It is important that you understand the advice you are being given so you can make an informed decision as to what steps to take next.
Make sure that your expectations are realistic. Depending on the issue you are facing, there might not be a quick or easy solution. You need to ensure that you keep a level head and realistic approach.
Be patient. Regardless of the nature of the matter, there is likely a process to follow and take its course.
At Darwin Gray, our personal approach means that we’re always just a phone call or email away for our clients. Our teams work closely together, so you’ll have the right person for your case and a wealth of expertise and experience at hand as your needs change.