Do I need a lawyer with particular small business experience for my start-up? Or is any corporate experience a good thing?
The simple answer to this question is yes, your lawyer should ideally have experience in the area in which you work.
But, this is not usually divided up between “big business” and “small business”.
I would hope that most commercial lawyers dealing with small business would have at least a basic grasp of the type of commercial law which is equally applicable to all businesses, such as the Australian Consumer Law (previously the Trade Practices Act), the relevant retail leasing legislation, the Corporations Act, etc.
On the other hand, most “big business” lawyers probably won’t, because lawyers in those firms are usually streamed very early in their career into areas of specialisation, with different practice groups for corporate, property, employment, finance, litigation and tax.
So each time you have a different type of problem, your work is handled by a different lawyer, although there will usually be a contact partner to coordinate and “oversee” their work.
Where your lawyer’s experience must be is in the areas of most relevance to your business. So, for example, if you run a bakery, you will want your lawyer to have a good understanding of the Food Act and all related regulations.
If your bakery is part of a franchise, then you would want your lawyer to have experience with the Franchising Code.
You may be surprised to find out how specialised some lawyers can be. Whether it is in servicing architects , veterinary practices, wineries or sports associations, there are an amazing array of specialities if you look hard enough.
With the internet, your lawyer does not need to be the ageing bloke in the bad suit down the road. They can be on the other side of town or even interstate.
If their specialisation matches your business, that’s what’s important.