This quote is from Shakespeare's Henry VI. However, it's not what most people think. The idea was that by killing the lawyers, there wouldn't be anyone in place stop a contemplated revolution or to maintain and restore order. The same is true for business deals.
Far too many business buyers make catastrophic mistakes with lawyers. On the one hand, many never hire one at all and rely on one lawyer to represent the deal and handle contracts for both parties, or they merely engage a closing agent. This is a massive mistake. Others take it to the other extreme and allow their attorney to become overly involved in the deal.
Hiring an attorney from a fancy big law firm doesn't mean they are better. Similarly, using a sole practicing attorney just because their rates are cheap may not be prudent either.
I know some incredibly competent attorneys and ones who undoubtedly focus upon getting deals done however, far too many are deal-breakers; not deal-makers and there are way too many who should find another profession. In my experience, too many attorneys try to show everyone involved in the deal how smart they are (most are not too smart by the way). A colleague of mine always says that "99% of the lawyers give the rest of them a bad name."
Here's the key: deals get done between buyers and sellers; not between their legal representatives. Work through the deal points with the seller, and aim to resolve any differences directly with them. Listen to what your attorney has to say, but make your own decisions. Provide your attorney with a detailed list of everything you and the seller have agreed to and let them put it into legalese with the additional clauses and conditions needed to protect you. Do not let them "over-lawyer" the agreement. Quite often, the standard broker purchase and sale agreement will suffice with additional conditions added to reflect the unique aspects of your deal.
(In the "Negotiating the Deal" section of the guide How To Buy A Good Business At A Great Price - there's a complete section called "getting down to details" that clearly explains in plain English every point in a purchase agreement and the best strategy to implement. It's critical that every business buyer knows these deal points).
If you don't have any experience in buying a business, you may need to rely on the lawyer a bit more, however, you are far better off engaging an advisor who has direct experience buying businesses to assist you, as that is their specialty. I don't mean a neutral business broker, you want someone looking out solely for you who has a wealth of experience in business sales.
So keep in mind that you need an attorney. Hire one who has experience in similar deal sizes and preferably in the business type you're buying.
This article represents a fraction of what you’ll learn on this topic in the How To Buy A Good Business At A Great Price© series - the most widely used reference resource and strategy guide for buying a business. To learn more click here
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