We are excited to see you grow an awesome personal training business! One of the most important people you need on your dream team is an attorney to help your personal training business grow and succeed! So let’s help you find an attorney for your personal training business.
Armed with answers to the following question, you will be better prepared to find an attorney that is the right fit for where your business is now and the legal needs and preventative measures for your personal training business.
What type of attorney does your personal training business need?
You wouldn’t go to a heart surgeon if you need your foot examined. The same goes for lawyers! Most personal trainers are going to need to find a business attorney who has some experience with a personal services business, preferably within the fitness industry. Ask for recommendations from other personal trainers or mentors within the industry – but be aware that an attorney who worked well with a friend needing something for their product related business may not always be the best fit for your service-oriented fitness business!
What state are you based in/which state is your business entity formed as a domestic entity?
In the US, state-based law requires an attorney who is licensed by the Bar Association and/or admitted to the Supreme Court of the state in question. Not all legal advice you are going to be likely seeking is about state law. For example, both intellectual property (trademarks, copyright, and patents) and tax law are federal areas of law – which means the attorney you seek out does not necessarily need to be licensed in the state you are located. What this means is that you may end up with more than one attorney working with your personal training business, just like you have a medical team that helps you take care of different parts of your body depending on the level of detail in the care that you require.
Take Recommendations – but do your own Research!
Finding an attorney can feel daunting. Ask your business associates for their recommendations but be aware that if you have a contractual relationship with that business associate, their attorney may have a conflict of interest and may not also be able to represent you. Ask for recommendations from your accountant or your small business banking coordinator, as they may have good working relationships in place and may know of attorneys with expertise relating to your business. If they throw out a name, ask about why they are making the recommendation. You can also search the directories of the American Bar Association or your State’s Bar Association or make use of their referral services (not all of them have a referral service).
Schedule a consultation or initial meeting
You may have read advice elsewhere that you should set up an interview with the top five attorneys you are considering and that you should request this initial consultation for free. We have thoughts about this advice. Firstly, many attorneys have a set rate for their initial consultation – this is a matter of protecting their time, just as you protect yours. Secondly, arranging meetings and then taking time out of your day to meet with five different attorneys is a large investment of time. Consider starting with setting up meetings with 2 or 3 at most, and let their staff know that you are wanting an initial consultation because you are interested in building a long-term relationship. They will indicate up-front if there is any cost for the initial consultation.
The initial meeting is not just about personality fit. You may be asked to describe your business, your perception of your legal needs, and your ongoing expectations in terms of a relationship with the attorney. They will also want to do what is called a “conflict-check” – to make sure that they are not already representing someone whose interests would be in conflict with yours. This initial meeting is also about personality fit. An attorney may be incredibly competent but not be able to communicate with you in a language you understand.
Ask Questions about their experience with the fitness industry
Although it is not absolutely essential to find an expert in the fitness industry or personal training businesses, it absolutely makes sense to seek out an attorney who specializes in small business law, or intellectual property law, in the context of the fitness industry as opposed to someone who specializes in beverage companies, or international law. Ask them what types of businesses related to the fitness industry they have worked with – be aware that they may not share more than a simple sketch about those clients (for ethical reasons). You can ask if they have a client or two you can speak with or an unrelated attorney who would be willing to provide a reference about their work.
Are they interested in your-sized personal training business?
Are they willing to represent a personal trainer? Ask if they are willing to take on small problems, for example, if you are trying to prevent a competitor from using an unregistered image of you in their advertising or if you’re trying to collect an invoice that is relatively small, is that the kind of work they would be willing to do? Are they willing to partner with you as you grow? Do they have experience working with personal training businesses?
Do they have time for you? How quickly can you expect calls and emails to be returned? Do you get the sense that they can explain things in a language you can understand? Are they willing to learn about your business and the fitness industry?
What are their fees?
Attorneys charge anywhere from $100 to $1000 or more an hour. Sometimes they offer flat-rate pricing for certain types of letter writing or document preparation. Be careful comparing one attorney with another simply on a comparison of fees, if for no other reason than because an inexperienced attorney may take much longer than an experienced attorney to complete the same work. Also, don’t assume that an attorney is out of your price range. They may have some flat-rate services, for example.
Finding an Attorney is the first step…
Just because you like an attorney you have spoken with doesn’t mean they are automatically your attorney. You will need to sign an engagement letter prepared by the attorney which will detail your relationship. This engagement letter will usually also explain billing rates and method of invoicing and payment. The agreement will also likely specify the expenses you will be expected to reimburse the attorney or law firm.
Your personal training business needs a legal advisor you can trust!
You want to make sure you have advisors around you and your business who will tell you the truth and give you the advice to help you make good decisions for your personal training business!