A Better Way To Find A Lawyer Small Businesses Seeking An Attorney Get Help From Legal Services Procurement Consultant: "Vet Your Lawyer"

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Vet Your Lawyer helps small business choose attorneys with legal experience that is highly relevant to the business' issues, then using basic procurement principles to control costs through the life of the attorney client relationship.

Before choosing an attorney to help with their legal needs, small businesses can now turn to VetYourLawyer.wordpress.com (http://www.VetYourLawyer.wordpress.com/what-i-do/) to make informed choices.

Legal departments of Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and liability insurers have been vetting their outside counsel before hiring them for decades. Legal Services Procurement is also well established in the UK, but is only now catching on in the United States. The challenges have been that traditional procurement people treat legal services like commodities, lack the legal background to evaluate the differences between firms, and the entire process has been too expensive for small business. Vet Your Lawyer is the first to bring this service to the small business level. To make the service more affordable, Vet Your Lawyer also offers flat rate plans.

With formation issues, litigation, and regulatory requirements, legal expenses are often not discretionary for small business, even in the current economy. That makes it even more imperative than ever that the legal spend be managed wisely. Long term efficiency, reliability of supply, and cost control is at the heart of procurement, legal or otherwise.

Businesses typically look for attorneys under two circumstances. First, a general business attorney to handle most matters on a long term basis, and second, outside counsel to handle litigation, intellectual property, or other specialized matters outside the general counsel's expertise. In the former case, the small business owner is on his or her own to figure out what lawyer to work with. In the latter, the job often falls to the general counsel. Like consultants who serve Fortune 500 companies, Vet Your Lawyer is able to help in either situation.

Colley is a former practicing attorney, law school professor, and legal research instructor to other attorneys. But the idea for this consultancy did not come from those endeavors.

"When I was in Marketing at West (the legal division of Thomson Reuters) my assignment was to target law firms that were using competitive products and services. So I spent a lot of time studying law firms across the country and getting to know their practice areas, strengths, and weaknesses. At the same time, we were watching the procurement trend closely. The application of procurement principles to legal services made sense to me, because of the cost control factor, but all the consultants in this area were focused on the major players. Having been a small businessman myself, I could see that this would clearly benefit small business as well, but no one was doing it. So when I asked myself, 'Who's helping the little guy?', Vet Your Lawyer was born."

There is always the option of the many free attorney matching websites, but they are free precisely because they are supported by attorney advertising and therefore lack objective consumer information about what attorneys are best for any particular small business. A recent study done by Findlaw confirms that while prospective clients like the ease of sites like Findlaw, they are frustrated by: 1) the lack of a way to objectively evaluate the credibility of the lawyers' claims and; 2) wading through the sheer number of results a search can pull up. "These sites pull up so many names in the search results," says Colley. "you might as well throw darts at the yellow pages." To avoid conflict of interest, Vet Your Lawyer takes no attorney advertising and is supported solely by client fees.

Instead, Vet Your Lawyer offers custom, personalized matching of legal expertise to the prospective clients actual current need. Even in garden variety cases, the vetting process can reveal information about the law firm's depth and recency of experience, their style and sensitivity to difficult issues, and whether they have in place internal systems that allow for efficient, cost effective service to their clients. Armed with that knowledge, small business owners can negotiate better terms with their lawyers, which Vet Your Lawyer will also assist with.


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Nat Colley
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