Monthly Archives: April 2018

Misconceptions About Lawyers

To properly understand the attorney-client relationship, it’s necessary to do away with common misconceptions. Litigants often begin their legal matters with improper beliefs regarding attorneys, the legal process, and absolutely everything else related to legal action. For that reason, I’d like to dispel some myths pertaining to legal action.

Myth 1: A good lawyer can fix anything.

Many people believe that hiring a “good attorney” is like a “get out of jail free card.” This just isn’t true. Attorneys are not magicians. They cannot turn lead into gold. If you visit your attorney and you’ve already totally botched your case, your attorney might be able to improve the outcome and, in some cases, he or she might even be able to take action to nullify the damage you’ve done. However, don’t expect that. Like any other situation in life, once you ring the bell, the sound is out there. In some instances, your attorney might be able to get the court to cover its ears. It really depends on the details of the circumstances and what opportunities the law provides for you given the specific circumstances.

Myth 2: Lawyers can make guarantees.

Your attorney can’t guarantee a certain outcome. People are used to guarantees when they make purchases, particularly costly ones. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the legal profession, your attorney can’t guarantee you a “win” or anything else. All your attorney can guarantee you is that he or she will perform his or her duties competently and that he or she will work diligently to help you achieve your objectives. While your attorney can take steps to improve the chances of a favorable outcome, the unfortunate fact is that your attorney isn’t able to actually control the outcome of a legal matter. Regrettably, because there are many factors outside the attorney’s control, your attorney cannot make any guarantees.

Myth 3: Your lawyer should be as obsessed with your case as you are.

Your legal matter isn’t personal to your attorney. It’s business. While some clients expect attorneys to be as emotionally invested as the client is, it’s important to remember that professional distance is part of the reason you’re hiring your attorney. Your attorney should remain calm and professional at all times and maintaining a degree of professional distance from your matter enables him or her to do so. This professional distance also allows your attorney to correspond with other parties effectively.

Therefore, don’t be disappointed with your attorney if he or she is friendly to the opposition or the opposition’s attorney. This doesn’t mean that the attorney is “in bed” with the other party, nor does it mean that your attorney isn’t fighting hard for you. Instead, it’s simply a matter of maintaining a professional demeanor and ensuring that civility dominates the legal process.

Myth 4: Lawyers are rich and overpaid.

Attorneys are not all wealthy. Public defenders are often paid similarly to teachers, believe it or not. Even most private attorneys aren’t especially wealthy. Associates are often overworked and underpaid, while partners make the “big bucks.” And for small firm owners/ partners, the cost of practicing law cuts deeply into the profits.

About Lawyers

Hiring a lawyer is one of the best decisions that you will ever make. This is because there are many benefits that come with it. One of the benefits is that it aids in preventing charges from being filed against you.

Another benefit is that lawyer representation often results to mitigation. This is because a lawyer assists you with ways in which you can be able to mitigate your case and as a result you get a lesser sentence.

When hiring, you should always ensure that the lawyer is experienced. The best way of going about it is hiring a lawyer who is experienced in the specific area of your interest.

For example, if you have a divorce case, you should hire an experienced divorce lawyer. The same thing applies to when you have a personal injury, health, malpractice, accident, or any other case.

There are many ways that you can use to get a good and experienced lawyer. The main ways include:

Getting referrals from qualified sources: if you have friends and relatives who have been satisfied with the services offered by a given lawyer, you should ask them for contacts of the lawyers.

Lawyers also serve as very important leads; therefore, if you have a lawyer friend, you should ask him/her to give you a referral.

If you don’t have a friend to refer you, you should visit reputable sites that have great lawyers. Some of the best sites that you should visit include: Martindale-Hubbell, American Association for justice, and The National Trial Lawyers. When you visit these websites, you will most likely find a lawyer who will be ideal for you.

Contact your local bar association: here you need to call the association ask for the contacts of the best lawyers that specialize in the field of your interest. For example, if you are interested in a constitutional lawyer, you should ask for the contact details of the best constitutional lawyers in the bar.

The good side is that most of the lawyers registered with the bar association are usually of very high quality; therefore, you are guaranteed that you will receive the best service.

Truth About Lawyers

Those of you reading this article looking for the latest lawyer joke will likely be disappointed in the text that follows. This piece is not meant to be yet another bashing session directed at the legal professional, but rather to give you solid information on how to avoid the common mistakes that even the brightest and most seasoned executives make in attempting to successfully work with and manage attorneys.

I grew up in a legal family, have been a managing director of a law firm, recruited and managed legal staffs as a C-suite executive and have dealt with many an outside counsel as an entrepreneur. I have both sued and been sued, and suffice it to say I know the good, the bad and the ugly about the legal profession.

As with any other profession there are excellent practitioners, middle of the road journeyman, well intended light-weights who try hard but consistently find themselves in over their heads, brilliant academics with no practical experience or common sense, and yes, there are a few rouges and scoundrels as well.

The reality is that most people that have a negative experience with the judicial system blame the lawyer. If the plaintiff or the defendant doesn’t achieve the expected outcome it must be the attorney’s fault, right? Wrong…If you retain the wrong lawyer that is not the lawyers fault, if you place yourself or your business in harm’s way because you didn’t recognize or manage risk, that is not the fault of the attorney who tries to help you and if you don’t manage the legal action and/or the attorney with the same attention to detail you manage other areas of your business that is not the attorney’s fault either.

Think about this…If you found out you had an operable brain tumor, but decided not to do anything about it until you actually started to observe diminished capacity and then sought out the cheapest doctor you could find (an experienced brain surgeon would be far too expensive) to conduct the operation how do you think you would fair? OK, it is a given that no reasonable person would handle the aforementioned scenario as described, but when it comes to legal work I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve witnessed someone wait too long to act or react and then rush to retain an attorney based upon little more research than the scrutiny of an hourly rate.

It is this author’s humble opinion that the truth about lawyers is that most people frankly get what they deserve. However if you adhere to the following best practices when entering into and managing an attorney client relationship you will fair better than most.

1. Hire the best legal counsel you can afford, not the cheapest you can find. As with any profession there is value in experience and knowledge as well as a competitive advantage to be gained with talent, reputation and connections. Never hesitate to get a second opinion as there are very few stock answers to a legal issue.

2. A lawyer is no different than any other vendor or supplier and they should be put through the same level of scrutiny (in my opinion a higher level of scrutiny) as anyone else in your supply chain. I adopted the practice quite sometime ago of putting my legal work out to bid through a managed request for qualifications (RFQ) and request for proposal (RFP) process. I assess my needs, identify my requirements and seek to find the best representation possible by having attorneys compete for my business on my terms.

3. General Counsel is fine, but only if they are managing the right specialist. A generalist cobbling together documents by pulling a template down from a Westlaw search is a far cry from having true subject matter expertise. All attorneys are not created equal. Hire the right lawyer at the right time for the right reason.

4. Along the lines of number three above, a smart attorney doesn’t necessarily translate into a good attorney. Just because someone possesses a J.D. doesn’t mean they have any practical experience. Most lawyers don’t graduate from law school with any formal business training and fewer have any real world business experience upon graduation. It is imperative that you select counsel who is not only a subject matter expert in his/her practice area, but that also has very sound business acumen. If an attorney is not fluent in my business they won’t be retained by me to represent my business…end of story.

5. The best way to manage your legal risk is to be proactive not reactive. Assess your legal risks and take aggressive and proactive measures to mitigate said risks. I developed the shortest legal mission statement on record and require any attorney who represents me to use it to as their operating mantra; it simply states: “anticipate and insulate”. The best defense is a great offense when it comes to legal work.

6. At the end of the day you must take an active role in managing your legal affairs. As a principal owner or senior executive the buck stops with you. You need to manage the attorney and the process to the best possible outcome and this cannot be accomplished with a passive management style. You can either manage the legal process or let it manage you.

As a consumer of legal services the phrase “Caveat Emptor” (Let the buyer beware) applies in spades. If you take an informed and proactive approach to managing your legal risk you will fair better than those who don’t. A plus might just be that if you hire the right attorney for the right reasons you may in fact end-up developing a strong personal and professional relationship that won’t end-up as subject matter for a lawyer joke.

Know About Lawyers

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a lawyer is “a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person licensed to practice law.” The word Law on the other hand is “the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political and social authority, and deliver justice.” A lawyer uses legal theories and knowledge to solve certain legal problem of a person or to protect the interests of those who retain lawyers to do legal services.

Almost all aspects in our society are affected by the legal system from buying a home to crossing the street. Lawyers outline the moral fiber of this legal system by linking it to society in various manners; holding positions of great responsibility and are obliged to follow to a firm code of ethics.

Lawyers perform as both advocates by representing one party in criminal and civil trials and present evidence and argue in court to support their client. They act as advisors to counsel their clients about their legal rights and obligations and suggest certain courses of action in business and personal matters.

Specialization:

Trial lawyers conduct research, interview clients and witnesses and handle other details in preparation for a trial.

Environmental lawyers represent interest groups, waste disposal companies or construction firms in their dealings with the Environmental Protection agency and other Federal and State agencies and help clients prepare and file for licenses and applications for approval.

Intellectual property lawyers help to protect clients’ claims to copyrights, artwork under contract, product designs and computer programs.

Lawyers dealing with insurance lawyers advise insurance companies about the legality of insurance transactions, guiding the company in drafting insurance policies that conform to the law, protect the companies from unwarranted claims and review the claims and represent the companies in court.

Criminal lawyers represent individuals who have been charged with crimes and argue their cases in courts of law.

Attorneys dealing with civil law help clients with litigation, wills, trusts, contracts, mortgages, titles and leases.

A house counsel is dealing with a corporation and advises the company concerning legal issues related to its business activities such as patents, government regulations, contracts with other companies, property interests, or collective-bargaining agreements with union Employment

Government lawyers work for State attorneys general, prosecutors and public defenders in criminal courts, also help develop programs, draft and interpret laws and legislation, establish enforcement procedures and argue civil and criminal cases on behalf of the government.