Most business owners retain legal counsel to manage a variety of issues that arise during the normal course of business. Smart executives also retain counsel in states where they do significant business to assure their legal interests are addressed efficiently and effectively.
Most medium to large companies conduct business in multiple states, but not all of this business would justify the retention of local counsel. There are several questions you should ask before placing out-of-state attorneys on retainer, including:
- How much revenue does my business generate there?
- What amount of raw materials or other product components do I purchase from suppliers in this state?
- How many retailers or other businesses carry my product in this state?
- What percentage of my clients is based in this state?
- Do I have an increased risk of a product liability lawsuit or other claim filed against me in this state?
- Do I anticipate filing a lawsuit in this state?
- Do I plan to expand my operations here?
- Do I anticipate closing or reducing my business activities here?
The answer to whether you should hire local counsel will likely be determined by several of the answers to the above. However, if you conduct significant business in a state, it is practical and proactive to have a law firm on retainer.
Why Select an Out-Of-State Firm Now?
While you could wait until there is a problem to hire a firm in another state, there are significant benefits to doing so now.
- You hire smart, not fast. If you wait until there is a pressing legal matter before hiring an attorney, you may take shortcuts in the process to meet a filing deadline or other time-specific constraint. You may be hiring based on a mere suggestion from another attorney or another business associate, or you may simply find someone on the internet. Regardless, you won’t have a chance to fully review their qualifications, meet with them or determine if they have the resources necessary to best represent you.If you hire a firm before there is a problem, you can do so in a thoughtful and calm manner. You can interview the attorneys, check references, and check their standing with the state bar association.
- You create a relationship. Having out-of-state counsel on retainer allows you to create a working relationship with them before a crisis hits. The lawyers will come to know you and your business, including your goals and plans, which will allow them to better represent you in any business dealings. They are also able to identify local opportunities that you would not be aware of without local representation.
- You acquire state-specific legal expertise. Each state has their own laws, with specific quirks and timelines. While other attorneys could research the state laws, only those who practice there on a daily basis can truly appreciate its requirements and thus best represent you.
In many circumstances, retaining local representation for business matters is a smart choice to protect and expand your interests.
Lieser Skaff Alexander is a Tampa Bay law firm with a national client base ranging from Fortune 500 (S&P 500) companies to sole proprietors. We specialize in business law and business litigation, giving our clients small firm attention while achieving large firm results. Please contact to learn how we can represent your business interest in Florida.