Friday, December 11, 2015

To Lawyer Up or Not to Lawyer Up- That is the Question

To Lawyer Up or Not to Lawyer Up
That is the Question.

Many years ago, I found myself suddenly becoming Marketing Manager of a business law firm. I was a lowly costume designer, turned file clerk, who’s old boss saw fit to turn into a marketing manager. It was a Cinderella story without the mice or awesome carriage (Seriously a pumpkin carriage….. it’s pie at the end of the night) After learning my trade the hard way, I saw many interesting things that happen from within a law firm; mainly the clients.

For the past 5 years I have seen potential client, turned client, walk into the office with a problem they could have stopped years before. Now, I am Marketing Manager for The Cromeens Law Firm and I see the same issue over and over again. Potential clients walking in with issues they could have stopped years before if they had gotten the right attorney or any attorney for that matter.

How, you may ask? Well, let’s first take on the issue on how many people view attorneys. They see them as a necessary evil, a weapon of last resort. Many business owners and people only go to an attorney when the problem has gone so far out of hand they don’t know what to do. As a marketer I have seen so many issues that could have been resolved well before they started. The simplest way to change this mindset is to not view attorneys as a weapon of last resort, but as your first line of defense. Whether it be reviewing your contracts, creating and forming your business properly, or giving you valuable legal advice before a decision is made.  

For example, I’ve seen time and time again where a business partnership has fallen apart and the two parties had no partnership agreement in place. This maybe due to the fact that they were friends when they started the business, or family. Let me tell you, nothing splits a friendship or familial ties apart more than money. Most small partnerships hold together with a handshake or believing the friendship will keep the bad away. I’ve seen this route only makes things messier when it comes to separating a business. There is nothing wrong with getting contracts signed and partnership agreements made up between friends and family, it actually helps protect both from each other and is both parties best interest.

Keeping an attorney on retainer for when you have questions or need something reviewed is the best route. It’ll be far more cost effective to nip something in the bud, than having to go to full out litigation. Litigation is expensive, reviewing a contract or forming a partnership agreement is not, comparatively.

Another big issue I see people making is that they think they know better than their attorney. I’ve seen client after client make calls that were against what their legal counsel suggests. This usually ends badly for the client. Remember, the attorney is there for your best interest as their client. They are there to support and defend you. All attorneys have spent years studying their trade and many more years learning their specialty. They know the nuances of law and have the research material to back their knowledge.

So my advice in a nutshell is to Lawyer up early, listen to your attorney and remember the attorney is there for your best interest.