Ask trustworthy persons, use the internet, check Cal Bar
Ideally, you will know one or more trustworthy persons in California in similar circumstances who can refer you to an attorney. If not, you must do some homework. On the Internet, you can Google search for an attorney in your area of interest in your area of concern in California , or you can use lawyer searching websites, such as FindLaw at http://www.findlaw.com/.
Then, check with the California State Bar to determine the disciplinary status and other information for each attorney candidate at http://members.calbar.ca.gov/search/member.aspx. Once you have at least 3 qualified candidates, call each of them and explain your situation and listen to their feedback. Your instincts should determine the right attorney candidate from these calls.
Refer to CalGold
If you are a small business, you should concentrate on small business attorneys, ideally with experience in your specific business, as each business shall have its own set of legal and regulatory circumstances. To give you a headstart in this process, and to assist you in finding the appropriate permitting information for your specific business and specific location, the CalGOLD database at www.calgold.ca.gov/ provides links and contact information that direct you to agencies that administer and issue business permits, licenses and registration requirements from all levels of government. The CalGold listings include descriptions of the requirements, the contact information of the agencies that administer those requirements, and in most cases a direct link to the agencies' Internet web pages.
During your calls to attorney candidates, ask them if they have personal business experience. For example, if they own their own firms, they will have a perspective closer to yours. Working with one or more attorneys deep within large firms may result in more legal expense.
Ask them if they are litigators, as litigators are many times unavailable. Corporate counsel do not usually litigate and are there to advise and service you, when you need it. Corporate counsel aim to keep you out of court. If you are unfortunate enough to need or defend litigation, your corporate counsel will refer you to the most appropriate litigation attorney or firm and thereafter monitor and manage the costs of litigation, which could otherwise spiral out of control.
Contracts to prevent litigation
Ideally, your corporate counsel will have sufficient prior litigation experience in order to do the foregoing effectively. Also, he or she will be able to draft contracts with an eye towards staying out of litigation or litigating in a friendly venue. For example, the existence (or lack thereof) of a contact clause providing for a prevailing party's right to attorney fees can mean the difference between having (or not having) litigation.
In addition, a corporate counsel, rather than a litigator, is more likely to give you all the advice you want or need and then get out of the way so as not to frustrate your business goals. Business risk is your decision, not a lawyer's. Once a transaction's basic terms and conditions have been negotiated, a good corporate counsel will rapidly draft an industry standard agreement, as simply stated as safely possible, customized to your particular circumstances and risk tolerance levels, oftentimes for a fixed fee. Such an agreement should not result in protracted negotiations.
Armed with the foregoing, I hope you find the ideal attorney for your business in California .