What to ask your lawyer and what to expect to make the most of legal advice
Whether you chose to work with Checklist Legal or someone else, it is useful to understand the kinds of information a lawyer will ask you about.
And perhaps even more importantly, be ready to ask the lawyer some key questions yourself!
Your questions for your lawyer
Some questions we think are important to ask before committing to a lawyer
Get clear on costs and billing processes…
- Are your fees fixed?
- What is the billing process?
- Is your law firm digital?
Why? Some lawyers work by the hour, some charge up front before any work is completed, some have fixed fees, etc etc. Ask to make sure you are comfortable with the process.
If you are working to a particular deadline…
- How long do you think this process will take?
Why? Let the lawyer know your preferred time frame… be reasonable here as you will pay more if you push for quick turnarounds.
If your area is technical or specialised…
- Have you worked with a business like mine / in this industry before?
- What are the key risks for my industry / area?
- What trends are you seeing in my industry / area?
Why? Not all lawyers understand online businesses and often try to push old fashioned documents and processes into digital businesses… leading to clunky and even incorrect contracts. If you want to build an ongoing relationship, these questions can help you understand how much the lawyer understands your area.
Communication and value of advice…
- Do you write your legal documents in plain language?
- How will you give me updates?
Why? There’s nothing worse than paying for something you can’t understand and that doesn’t add value to your business. Unclear contracts and confusing advice make business harder. Let the lawyer know if you’d prefer updates in a particular way (such as a video call, a detailed email, or a n in person chat).
If you’re concerned about confidential or personal info leaking…
- Will you be the only person working on my matter?
- Where do you store client data?
Why? If you work in a sensitive industry or have sensitive information, be careful when sharing before a contract is in place and ask how the lawyer protects information, as well as whether they will work on your project or hand it off to someone else.
Questions your lawyer might ask you
These kinds of questions help your lawyer understand the different kinds of risks you might have, depending on your industry, your client types, business model, etc. Hopefully these won’t be too much of a surprise, but be sure to have the information ready for a smooth chat.
About you and your business
- Company name
- Years in business
- Number of employees
- Location – Do you work from a particular location or online?
- Registered for GST?
About your clients
- Age range
- Income range
- Typical purchase value
- Once off or recurring
About your Strategy
Understanding strategy into the near future helps your lawyer build flexibility into the advice they give you. They can’t cover every possibility, but can work with you to keep options open.
SWOT = Strengths | Weaknesses | Opportunities | Threats
SWOT is a classic tool that helps you consider your business from different perspectives.
- What do you want to achieve in your business over the next 12 months?
- And how will you make that happen?]
Other questions we might ask you
We like to get to know you when we chat so we can solve the big problems and the legal and business concerns that are keeping you up at night. This helps us be proactive in our approach to your business.
- What is your biggest challenge right now?
- Why is this your biggest challenge? What are the potential costs or losses?
- How have you tried to fix this previously?
- Did you write your own terms? Have you worked with a lawyer before?
- Costs or risks
- What are the potential costs or losses… what might you miss out on?
- Timeframes and key dates
- When did you need a response or final detail?
- Expectations for updates
- How would you like your lawyer to update you? E.g. is email okay or would you like a call by a particular day?
- If you could wave a magic wand in a perfect world…
- What would you love to have happen ….
– Thank you –
If you want to chat legals with us, we’d love to help! Click here to start the ball rolling.