Look­ing for a lawyer or CPA

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - MONEY & MARKETS EXTRA - By Joyce M. Rosen­berg

A small busi­ness owner search­ing for a lawyer or cer­ti­fied pub­lic ac­coun­tant may hear from a friend, “I've got a great one for you!” That's a good rea­son to check the per­son out — but not to hire right away.

An owner needs a lawyer or CPA who has ex­pe­ri­ence with and un­der­stands the needs of small busi­nesses, is able to be an ad­viser and help with strat­egy and is aware of changes in laws and reg­u­la­tions. A pro­fes­sional also must be fa­mil­iar with the in­dus­try a small busi­ness is in. Some­one who does your friend's 1040 form at tax time may not know much about farm­ing, real es­tate, con­struc­tion or other in­dus­tries that have spe­cific rules for ac­count­ing, taxes and com­ply­ing with reg­u­la­tions.

Own­ers are bet­ter off seek­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from peo­ple in their in­dus­tries, even if they're com­peti­tors. It's also pos­si­ble to search on­line for a pro­fes­sional with ex­per­tise in a spe­cific in­dus­try. But word-of-mouth ad­ver­tis­ing is still im­por­tant, to give own­ers a sense of whether they'll be com­fort­able work­ing with an at­tor­ney or CPA, and that the peo­ple they hire will give them the time and at­ten­tion they need. So ask for sev­eral ref­er­ences.

No mat­ter how you find a pro, sched­ule at least one meeting to get to know the per­son you'll be work­ing with. Show up with a lot of ques­tions, and be sure you get an­swers.

Own­ers are bet­ter off seek­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from peo­ple in their in­dus­tries.

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