Over the course of selling nearly 170 transportation businesses, The Tenney Group has had the pleasure of working with many fine transaction attorneys. We have also worked with attorneys that were inexperienced and should not have been involved in a transportation business sale. If you are preparing for the sale of your Houston transportation business, I encourage you to consider the following tips as you hire an attorney to protect your interests at the closing table.
1) Focus on industry transaction experience.
Not all attorneys are created equal. You don’t necessarily need an $800/hr professional gun. But just because an attorney passed the bar, it doesn’t mean that they know anything about handling transactions effectively and efficiently. Interview your lawyer carefully. Ask about how he or she has handled similar legal matters. How many transportation business sales has he or she been involved with? Has he or she received any professional honors or recognition? What will be the estimated costs of handling the transaction? Above all, do not be lazy in your search. By that, I mean do not limit your options to a family friend.
2) Get referrals from other business owners, preferably former transportation business owners.
Once you are satisfied with your attorney’s credentials, request to visit with one or two of his satisfied clients who used him for a transaction. Ask the same questions. Ask about the value the attorney brought to the transaction. An example could be a creative language solution that allowed both buyer and seller to overcome an impasse on the purchase agreement.
3) Make availability a top priority.
This sounds so basic, but it may be the most important factor when hiring a transaction attorney. When your business broker has put the deal on a platter for you and has the buyer ready to hand over the cash, your attorney’s job is to get the deal signed before they change their mind—while protecting your interests. I don’t care if he is the best lawyer in Houston, if he can not be available when the deal is on the line, he is worthless to you. Make sure the transaction attorney you hire will be readily available through the time it takes to get the deal across the finish line. When you interview referrals, ask about the attorney’s accessibility and document turnaround time. If you do not have access to very many attorney options, The Tenney Group would be happy to refer you to several experienced transaction attorneys.
Spencer Tenney, vice president of The Tenney Group, is a member of the International Business Brokers Association and a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI). The Tenney Group is exclusively focused on business sales, acquisitions, business valuations and exit planning in the transportation industry.
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