Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how important it is for a business owner to have a support team that really wants to see them succeed. As important as it is to have this team, it is just as important to have the right people on it. We’ve been using the analogy of a baseball team and assigning each role to a corresponding position in a baseball lineup. As we continue this look at the support team, I’d like to focus on your shortstop… the business owner’s legal team.
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In baseball, the left side of the infield is crucial to the success of a team. Having the right talent filling those gaps is a major advantage for the pitcher because he knows that he can rely on the shortstop and the third baseman to make the plays that so often come their way. Not only are they highly skilled defenders, but they can provide a fair amount of offensive production as well.
Because they are so involved in the action, strategy, and leadership of the team that supports your business, I thought it was only fitting that the legal team should take the left side of the infield. At shortstop, we have the trust and estate attorneys. The business attorney is your third baseman because that is truly the hot seat. It’s easy to know which professionals should be on your advisory team and to assign them a baseball position. But understanding what actually makes a good legal team is a different story.
In today’s world, there are a lot of “watered down” professions. There are plenty of big-box service providers in just about every field of service. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these, they often miss the mark when it comes to specialization. In keeping with our baseball analogy, I look at it like this: just because you can play baseball doesn’t mean that you can play shortstop. That is a nuanced and highly specialized skill. They play the game a little differently than the first basemen or the outfielders.
This is also true when it comes to your legal team. If you’re using an attorney who is a jack of all trades, then they are probably a master of none. Knowing enough to be dangerous is exactly that… dangerous! Instead of having one or two people who know a little bit about a lot of legal specialties, a business owner’s legal team should have a few different specialized attorneys who can work as a team.
Having the attorneys who are highly-skilled masters of their individual specialty who can work as a team with one another is a powerful asset to any business owner. The right trust and estate attorneys can set your legacy for generations and save you a small fortune in the process. Likewise, a rockstar business attorney will be able to help with your corporate structure but, in a perfect scenario, will also have some litigation experience.
If you don’t have a few attorneys with specialized skills and experience, then it’s very likely that they could miss a crucial play when the ball comes their way. A shortstop has practiced and honed their craft throughout their careers. The result of so much dedication to being the best shortstop that they can be is an ability to read a play almost before it even happens. They are so familiar with their position, that they can tell exactly what the ball that’s just been hit to them will do, allowing them to react quickly to make the game-saving play.
This is the type of performance that a specialized attorney can provide. An estate and trust attorney will know, intimately, the 27 different types of trusts, and how they should be used. But that’s not all. They have to know and understand the tax laws for multiple different states. In fact, a specialized estate and trust attorney will often have an LLM attached to their names. If you’ve plugged a general practice attorney into the shortstop position of your team, chances are they won’t have the knowledge or experience to give you the best possible asset protection or tax minimization services.
In addition, attorneys who have a specialized practice will often have a team behind them that are also highly specialized. For example, you may have an estate attorney who is a master in their practice but they’ve also got an attorney on their team that specializes in repatriating money to the United States or a talented estate litigator. Whether these are all members of the same legal firm or simply part of an attorney’s network, they bring added value to a business owner’s legal team.
As important as it is to be very technical and specialized, the business owner’s legal team needs to also be able to see the big picture. They should understand that the business owner doesn’t only need information, but also solutions. When I first started Heritage Investors, I had a couple of attorneys that helped with a lot of the documentation that I needed during the launch of my business. But, when I wrote my first book, The Ultimate Sale, these same attorneys recognized that I would need some help with intellectual property.
They approached me and made me aware of the fact that I had just entered into the realm of intellectual property. And even though IP wasn’t a practice that they performed, they brought me a solution in the form of a referral. This is a great example of a “big picture” mindset and the benefit of having a specialized attorney with their own professional network. They understood what my business needed, they gave me the information, and they provided me with a solution. This was a game-changing play!
Gone are the days of finding the best in your zip code. The ability to work remotely has opened the doors like never before to clients seeking the best advisors, regardless of their location. But how do you find the best attorney that’s also the best for your team? There are a few ways to go about securing the best talent and ensuring that they mesh with the rest of your support team.
First, you could try asking for recommendations from your existing support team members. Chances are pretty good that if they’re recommending someone, they already have a good relationship with them. Not only that, but they’re not likely to risk their own reputations by suggesting that you hire an attorney that isn’t worth their salt. As a business owner, use the resources that you have available to you. After all, situations like this are part of the reason that you need a support team, to begin with.
Another route you could take is by asking your peers. If they have had a great experience with an attorney, they could initiate an introduction for you. However, I am a little hesitant to use this method because of the “ugly baby” syndrome. Basically, we all have a tendency to overlook or even attempt to cover up any flaws within our businesses. None of us wants to have an ugly baby so we do all we can to make sure that our businesses are beautiful, even if it means highlighting the good to mask the bad. Because of this, it’s possible that a business owner would suggest a less than stellar attorney just so that they didn’t appear foolish for hiring them. So, they can be a valuable resource but you need to be careful.
The business owner’s legal team is an incredibly important part of their support team. The right attorney can make or break your business’ success. With that in mind, make sure that you’re adding a rockstar to your support team. They need to be experts in their craft while having a team mentality because they’re going to need to interact with the other players on your support team.
Friends, life is hard, but life is also good. Finding the right legal team can be frustrating. But with a little information, it can at least be financially simple. Hey, let’s go out and make it a great day!
Have you built your support team? Do you need help putting all of the pieces together? Contact us! The team at Financially Simple has helped thousands of business owners just like you!