With all this talk about choosing a name, conducting a clearance search, and understanding the risks involved in trademark registration, I can only imagine how confusing it must all be for the first-time solopreneur. Some things are best left to the experts. Just like you should probably visit a mechanic to fix your car’s transmission, hire an accountant to do your taxes, and leave it to your doctor to perform stitches on your wound, you should probably at least consult with a trademark attorney before proceeding any further on your business name and branding.
How Do I Choose the Right Attorney?
There’s no question that there are plenty of lawyers out there, with all kinds of specialties, expertise, and experience levels. How do you possibly choose the right trademark lawyer for you and your business? As a trademark lawyer myself, I thought I would share a few guidelines that could help you assess how to find the right fit. In the first post of this two-part series, we’ll start with how to find potential lawyers.
The best place to start is word-of-mouth referrals. Ask your fellow solopreneur friends if they have any recommendations. Referrals to general business attorneys or attorneys in other fields are a great start. This is because attorneys often keep a close network of trusted colleagues in other practice areas, in case a client needs a referral.
Can I Find One Online?
Of course, the second option is to go online, but a slight word of caution here. In the day and age of search engine optimization, many firms pay outside experts to rank higher on Google results pages. As such, you may not be getting the “best lawyer in [your city]” but rather, the law firm that has paid the most to maintain itself at the top of Google. This is not to say that firms that rank highly on Google are not reputable – just something to keep in mind as you browse results.
Now, in the process of your online research, you may come across companies that provide legal services, rather than law firms. The appeal of these services is that they can provide certain legal services for a much lower price than law firms can. My next post will be why those services may not be the best choice for your business.
Once you’ve gathered a few names, reach out by phone or email to schedule a consultation. Many firms nowadays charge for consultations but do not let that be a deterrent. While many folks are used to free initial conversations, attorneys that charge for consultations often are in high demand and as such, place a value on their time.
Inquire whether the fee for the consultation can be applied toward the trademark retainer you will pay if you choose to work with the attorney. My firm does charge for consultations but we allow the fee to be applied to future work. I have found many attorneys are open to this arrangement as well.
Next time, in part two, we’ll discuss some key questions you can ask to help you narrow down your choices.