If you are being sued, it’s too late. Most small businesses put off hiring a lawyer until the sheriff is standing at the door serving them with a summons. Bad mistake. The time to hook up with a good business lawyer is before you are sued. Once you have been served with a summons and complaint, it’s too late–the problem has already occurred, and it’s just a question of how much you will have to pay (in court costs, attorneys’ fees, settlements and other expenses) to get the problem resolved.
America’s judicial system is a lot like a Roach Motel–it’s easy to get into court, but very difficult to get out once you’ve been “trapped.” While nobody likes to deal with attorney, let alone paying attorneys’ fees, the fee a lawyer will charge to keep you out of trouble is only a small fraction of the fee a lawyer will charge to get you out of trouble once it’s happened.
Big firm or small firm? Generally speaking, the larger the law firm, the greater the overhead, therefore the higher the hourly rates you will be expected to pay. If you use a solo practitioner or small firm as your lawyer(s), it’s likely that they will not have all the skills you may need to grow your business. No single lawyer does. So the solo or small firm lawyer will have to refer you out to someone they know and trust to do the job right. On the other hand, while a larger firm may have all the legal skills you need “under one roof,” you don’t know who they are or how good they are. Either way, though, you will have to consult several attorneys over time.
Large firms do have a lot of clout in the local, regional and (perhaps) national legal community. A nasty letter from a law firm with offices in 30 states may be more intimidating than a nasty letter from a solo practitioner. Unless, of course, the solo has a reputation for being a ferocious trial lawyer.