Legal advice – picking the right lawyer for the right job

Technical jargon, exorbitant fees, obnoxious sports cars…. we don’t always have the best connotations of lawyers or the legal world in general. However, most pharmacists will need to engage a lawyer at least once in their career, especially if they have ownership ambitions. Choosing quality legal representation will save you time, stress and money in the long-run.

Here are the top five tips to help you find the right lawyer for your legal issue:

1. Know your Desired Outcome

What’s your end goal? Lawyers vary in their skills and areas of expertise. It’s important to determine exactly what your legal issue is, and how you would like it to be resolved, before you begin your search. For example, if you need representation in a pharmacy purchase and you want to get strong advice without jeopardising completion, then a transaction-focused solicitor with pharmacy experience and an acute understanding of the settlement process should be your target.

Or, if you’re a pharmacy owner seeking to dispute a wage-related claim from an employee, then look for a solicitor with experience in employment law who can ensure that you are complying with legal obligations, whilst also protecting your commercial interests. Depending on the complexity of your issue, writing notes and mapping out key dates might help you better understand your situation, where you want to get to and, ultimately save you money.

2. Do Some Research

Try to learn the basics of the legal issue you are facing and familiarise yourself with some of the language you will encounter. There are plenty of resources online. Family and friends might also have some experiences or advice to share, so ask around. The confidence you gain from this knowledge will enable more informative conversations with prospective lawyers and better choices. It may even save you in legal fees as your matter progresses.

3. The Importance of Pharmacy Experience

In the pharmacy space, with all its quirks and nuances, the benefits of hiring an industry-experienced lawyer cannot be understated. No matter how good they are, a lawyer with no pharmacy experience is immediately at a disadvantage when opposing a pharmacy-experienced lawyer, as they simply won’t be familiar with the unique commercial, legal and regulatory frameworks that govern the industry.

This is particularly true with sale of business transactions. When the vendor or purchaser engage a lawyer with no pharmacy experience, the pharmacy experienced lawyer on the other side despairs, because they know that timelines (and often legal fees) are about to blow out.

4. Shop Around

Unless you live in a remote location, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding plenty of lawyers willing to take on your job, so try to speak to a few before making a decision. Be prepared for your lawyer “interviews”, by bringing along a list of pertinent questions, as well as any paperwork that might be relevant.

You may also want to ask them about their previous experiences with similar matters and how these were resolved. Don’t overlook the human element either. It’s critical to find a lawyer that you feel comfortable discussing any topic with. After all, you may end up spending a lot of time talking to this person. If you have reservations about your long-term compatibility, then look elsewhere. If someone you trust has recommended them then that’s a good start, but keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right match for you.

5. Ask About Fees

Lawyer’s fees range enormously, from jaw-droppingly expensive to suspiciously cheap. Some at the pricey end will justify their high fees with exceptional service, while others will simply be overpriced. Conversely, if a lawyer is offering dirt cheap service compared to their competitors, then chances are the quality of service will be compromised. A little research should give you an idea of what a reasonable price is for your matter.

Whatever your budget is, always request a quote and ask about what variables may come into play as the matter unfolds. If you can find a “fixed fee” service that’s within your budget, then it might be a smart option, as it eliminates the chance of unforeseen complications causing legal fees to blow out well beyond quoted levels, which is always a possibility with “hourly rate” practitioners.

6. Conclusion

Part of being successful in business, and in life, is surrounding yourself with the right “team” to support you on your journey. Choosing quality legal representation will save you time, stress and money in the long run so it pays to devote some time to the decision. The above tips should hold you in good stead. Just remember to know your desired outcome, research your issue and shop around. The perfect lawyer for your legal matter is out there – you just have to find them!

– Nicholas Galle, Legal Director at AP Group

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