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How to choose the right law firm

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Q: All law firms seem the same. How do I tell them apart and find the right one for my business?

A. A good starting point is the legal directories. These will give you impartial reviews of individual services and lawyers. However, they do not provide an analysis of the type of fees involved, they are discipline-specific and provide relatively little help if you are looking for a full-service firm to take care of all of your legal needs. You may also find that the legal press and publications such as Legal Business, The Lawyer or Legal Week can provide some useful information, although bear in mind that publications such as these are aimed firmly at the legal community and not at businesses or individuals.

In our view, the most important part of selecting a law firm is to consider your own business needs and the type of relationship that you need or require from your advisers. You should always remember that the quality of lawyer can vary from firm to firm and within each firm itself. Try to obtain personal recommendations or references – this may be more relevant if you are looking to your law firm/lawyer to act more as a consigliere to you. Personal recommendations are also a good way of gauging whether the style of, and the individuals within, a law firm might suit you.

You will also have to consider your budget. The name of a “Magic Circle” firm on your documents may look impressive, provided that you can afford it. Smaller and mid-size companies or individuals need to ask themselves whether a global legal giant is really necessary for their needs (and whether the hefty hourly rates can be justified). Conversely, larger clients will automatically look to the legal big-hitters who have the requisite capacity and resources to take on major transactions. The quality within the larger firms is undeniable; but they do not have a monopoly on talent or expertise.

Taken at its ugliest, you should always make sure that any firm you instruct has sufficient professional indemnity insurance to cover themselves (and you) in a worst-case scenario.

Taken at its prettiest, the legal world likes to think of itself as a relationship-based industry. Many law firms consider that one of their key service objectives is to build a solid working relationship with their clients and become a trusted adviser. If you are looking for a law firm to be by your side for the mid- to long-term, you will need to choose carefully.This article was written by Mishcon de Reya partner Nick Davis and solicitor Andrew WolfinRelated articlesThe alternative to redundanciesUnderstanding workplace dispute lawsDivorcing your business partnerPicture source

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