Hiring The Right Lawyer for You, the Buyer
The right legal counsel is essential to a successful business sale, but picking a suitable lawyer to work with can present a number of difficulties. Finding a legal expert that you can relate to and who has the necessary technical skills to steer you safely through the challenges of an acquisition can be a real issue.
Given how much is riding on finding a good lawyer, it makes sense to take some time to ensure you’re selecting one that’s going to be pro-active in making the deal a success. Detailed below are a number of considerations to take into account when deciding which legal advisor is going to be the right choice for your individual circumstances.
1. Be clear what you want from your lawyer.
You wouldn’t hire an architect, or go and see your doctor, without at least some idea of what it is that you want to achieve. The same forethought should apply to your dealings with a lawyer; it’s important to be clear on what you’re seeking advice on and have some parameters determined. For example, if you want a legal professional to review Asset Purchases Agreements provided by your broker, tailored to meet your requirements, rather than writing a whole new contract from scratch, you need to have already decided that prior to investigating various legal practices.
2. Check their background.
Obviously it’s helpful to deal with a lawyer that’s geographically close to you, or in proximity to the business you wish to purchase. No one wants to waste hours driving to get to an appointment, and not all legal work is best done online. To narrow down the search further, it’s worth reading reviews and testimonials, as well as seeking references. Often you can find a good lawyer by personal recommendation. From these initial searches you should be able to establish a short list of two-or-three prospects. Ideally, an interview with each would be preferable before making a final decision. Your broker will have names, and recommendations, from their years of experience as well.
3. Interview your lawyer.
Establishing a strong working relationship between you and your legal professional is vital if a purchase or sale is going to progress smoothly. The purpose of meeting a prospective lawyer for the first time is to get an understanding of the way in which they work, their track record and also how well you feel they are able to listen and respond appropriately to your requirements. If you find your lawyer cold, off-putting or confrontational, the chances are that the seller will see them the same way. Maintaining a solid, positive relationship with the business seller is exceptionally important. A good legal team ensure that both sides end up with a win-win situation.
Listen to your lawyer’s views. Gauge whether they are offering professional advice, or personal opinions. How confident do they sound when discussing your sale? Do you feel happy with their approach? Remember that if you feel they don’t know what they’re doing, or are too hesitant, the seller will also pick up on this. It’s important that their approach is similar to yours, so that the seller receives a coherent message from your entire purchasing team. Make sure you’re clear that you wish to retain control of the sale and that decisions are to be taken by you, not your legal representative!
4. Shop around.
There are plenty of lawyers out there, so if you interview one and they just don’t fit your requirements, try a few more until you find one that is a good fit. With a business costing upwards of $500,000 to $3,000,000 or more, it’s worth spending that little bit of extra time to appoint a lawyer you’re confident won’t let you down. Although it’s important not to delay longer than necessary, the right legal advisor could save you thousands of dollars as well as make or break the sale deal.
Provided you take your time and don’t jump at the first lawyer you come across. If you consider all of the aspects above, the likelihood is that you will find an experienced, supportive and professional legal provider who you can depend on to take the sale forward successfully.