Choosing the best transaction attorney is usually a matter of finding a lawyer who has both expertise related to your needs and a personality and work ethic with which you can relate. There are several different kinds of transaction attorneys, and the work each performs can be quite different. Once you have located a few practitioners who might be right for you, conduct informational interviews and set up initial counseling sessions in order to discern which will be best for your needs.
Most transaction lawyers work in the business sector. They advise corporate owners and officers about the legal ramifications of any number of business transactions. Mergers and major acquisitions are some of the most popular roles, but even something as simple as drafting a business contract or purchase order agreement often goes through a transaction attorney.
Business attorneys usually specialize by sector. The needs of a pharmaceutical corporation are often quite different than those of an agricultural distributor, for instance. International banking and finance companies, too, are like worlds unto themselves when it comes to the legal transactions that need processing and handling.
A transactional attorney might also work in a non-business field, particularly in real estate. Real estate lawyers in this capacity will handle the legal aspects of the property sale or lease transaction, including managing all filings and title document drafting and coordinating the payment of required fees. The work of real estate transaction lawyers does not often overlap with that of most business attorneys.
One of the most important things about choosing a transaction attorney is finding a professional who has expertise in your line of work. Recommendations and promotional material are usually a good place to start when looking for a transactional attorney. It is important to keep in mind, however, that just because a transaction lawyer was helpful for a friend or colleague does not mean that he will also be helpful in your situation. Similarly, a positive experience with one aspect of a law firm — its trust and probate division, for instance — does not necessarily imply that your experience with a transaction attorney from that same firm will be equally positive.
Most lawyers, particularly those in business transactions practice groups, will offer free initial consultations. These consultations are essentially mini-interviews where you, as the client, have a chance to determine whether to hire the lawyer. You will get the best sense of whether the transaction attorney is right for you the more you tell him or her about the kind of work you have in mind. Bring any information that you have about the sort of transactions you need help with and ask a lot of questions on everything from the lawyer’s philosophical approach to his billing practices.
You should also let the lawyer know what sort of services you have in mind. Some firms require that their lawyers take only on-going jobs, while other attorneys are free to work on a per-project basis. You should also be prepared to tell the lawyer whether or not you are looking for a retainer-type relationship. The better sense you give the lawyer of your expectations, the easier it will be to assess whether or not there is a good match.