What is the best way for a small-business owner to find a reputable lawyer? When you're looking for trademark and intellectual property lawyers, what are some good criteria to help you find a match?

Amanda Feeley, owner, Esscentual Alchemy,


Before you hire a lawyer, remember that this can be a great partnership. She can give you tremendous advice and counsel. But you have to make an effort to hire the right attorney at the beginning. You have to look at your goals and objectives. You should have a good understanding of what you need and want.

When you are searching for a good intellectual property lawyer, utilize your network. Ask your family lawyer if she can give you referrals. Ask family members, relatives and friends. You can contact the American Bar Association or Minnesota Bar Association for suggestions. Martindale-Hubbell ( is still perhaps the most trusted resource for attorney referral and for finding lawyers and getting more information than anywhere else on the Web.

Once you have narrowed your search, look at the firms' websites to see their practice specialties and attorneys. Other factors to consider include whether they are local or national. You want someone who knows you and can meet you face-to-face. Does the firm have an international network? While giving you legal advice, do they also have the acumen to give you business counsel?

When you have hired your attorney you want to be organized and well prepared. Remember, this is a partner and you need to confide openly and cooperate with her and listen to her advice. Trust her ... she is your partner. We are very fortunate to have excellent firms that offer representation on a full range of intellectual property issues in the Twin Cities.

John T. Wendt, associate professor, Ethics and Business Law Department, University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business