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. They can help your personal training business grow and succeed.
So let's help you find an attorney! They will have 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! Find a business attorney who has experience with a personal services business, preferably within the fitness industry. Ask for recommendations from other personal trainers or mentors.
Note: An attorney who works with product related businesses may not be right for your service-oriented fitness business!
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, intellectual property (trademarks, copyright, and patents) and tax law are federal areas of law. So, the attorney you seek out does not necessarily need to be licensed in the state you are located. You may end up with more than one attorney working with your personal training business. Think of it like having a medical team of doctors in charge of your care.
Take Recommendations – but do your own Research!
Finding an attorney can feel daunting. Ask your business associates for their recommendations. However, if you have a contractual relationship with that business associate, their attorney may have a conflict of interest and may not be able to represent you. Ask for recommendations from your accountant, or your small business banking coordinator, as they 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. Secondly, arranging meetings and then taking time out of your day to meet with five different attorneys is a large investment of time. Set up meetings with two or three at most. Let their staff know that you want an initial consultation.
During the meeting you may be asked to describe your business, your perception of your legal needs, and your expectations. They will also do a “conflict-check”. This is to make sure they are not already representing someone whose interests would be in conflict with yours. This 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 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 do they respond to calls, or emails? 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 based on fees. 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 may also 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!