By Andrew Weaver, CEO of LawyerFair
You may think that there are several advantages in choosing a firm on your doorstep and yes, at first glance, there are plenty of good reasons to do so.
You are probably thinking that a local firm is better placed to understand your business community and what drives local markets. You may also be thinking that they will be more interested in hearing your story. Personal engagement is crucial to developing sustainable relationships and, arguably, it is often easier to nurture a relationship with a smaller firm.
So here are 5 reasons to look past the obvious local choice:
1 Lawyers have become incredibly specialised.
You want to choose a team of legal advisors who have a wealth of relevant expertise at their fingertips. Often, sole practitioners and smaller firms do not have all the skills that you may need to grow your business.
Can your local firm manage complex litigation, negotiate your business leases, protect your intellectual property rights, draft a commercial agreement, advise you on a problematic employee and advise you on your corporate affairs?
Using generalists will probably cost you more in the long run – both financially, if mistakes are made, and on a practical level if work is ultimately farmed out to specialists.
It makes sense to get specialist legal advice, where the correct person is chosen for the particular job, and where the advice given is relevant to its industry sector.
2 A change may not cost you more.
Historically, you could guarantee that a local firm would be cheaper and more flexible in its billing and fee structure than a larger national firm. On the flip side, the larger the law firm, the greater the overhead and therefore the higher the hourly rates you would be expected to pay.
However the legal industry has dramatically changed over the last decade or so. Many of the bigger players are still feeling the pinch after the recession and have explored how to stand out from their competitors and stimulate growth. Organisational and cost frameworks have been overhauled by many firms with new innovative approaches to pricing structures, fixed fees and volume discounts.
Your local firm may not be up to speed with technological advancements in the legal sector. Using online technology to deliver legal products and services is becoming more commonplace.
More law firms offer online systems to improve speed and convenience for clients. And the cost saving goes right back to you.
Do your law firm have a strong reputation in the local, regional and national legal community?
A forceful letter from a law firm which has known clout and industry stature will inevitably send a more powerful message than a nasty letter from a sole practitioner with little industry expertise.
There are many benefits in being connected with a well-established law firm. They may be willing to introduce you to financing sources or use their name as a professional reference. If your business is looking to expand in the future, then it clearly helps to work with recognised names in the investment banking and venture capital sector.
Ultimately you need practical commercial advice, effective pricing and workable business solutions as an intrinsic part of the legal services delivered. Choose advisors who understand your business and appreciate the importance of the bigger picture.