Category Archives: Law

Understanding Lawyer Fees An Overview

The services of an effective lawyer are not a commodity. They can’t be priced like one. Their fees can vary dramatically given the details of your case. If your case requires litigation, a lawyer’s fee will rise quickly (litigation is usually expensive). If a settlement is likely, the fee will reflect that. Below, we’ll give you an overview of lawyers’ fees so you’ll know what to expect when you need to retain their services.

First Step: Meeting With Your Lawyer

Most lawyers will want to schedule a consultation before quoting a fee for their services. During the consultation, they’ll ask questions to understand the kind of work involved in your case. This is the only way a lawyer can quote a reasonable fee. Some lawyers (especially when working with new clients) require a retainer. The retainer isn’t your full legal bill. It usually reflects the amount of work involved in your case when your lawyer is working either on a fixed fee or at an hourly rate.

Contingent Fees

When a lawyer takes your case and agrees to represent you on a contingent fee basis, it’s usually for a civil suit. In this type of arrangement, the lawyer typically won’t charge you for his time. Instead, he receives compensation if the ruling of the case is in your favor. It’s important to note that just because your lawyer is working on a contingent fee, that doesn’t exclude the costs of litigation. You’ll still be required to pay those expenses.

Negotiating The Fee

Some lawyers are open to negotiating their fee. While the best lawyers are typically booked with clients (and thus, unlikely to lower their fees), many lawyers are hungry for your business. If you can’t afford the fee they quote, offer a lower fee. Some lawyers may want the experience your case can provide. Or, they may be a new lawyer and willing to reduce their fee to build their business.

If your lawyer is working on an hourly basis, ask him to quote a maximum fee. Keep in mind that every case is unique and the process of a lawsuit often makes it difficult to quote a maximum fee. That said, if a lawyer quotes a small retainer (i.e. $500) and can’t provide a maximum fee, you may be in for an unpleasant legal bill. Most lawyers who quote a $500 retainer will consider your case simple and unlikely to exceed that amount. Lawyers who quote a small retainer yet won’t commit to a maximum may be a sign of trouble.

Other Options

If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford the services of local attorneys, you can explore other options. First, ask lawyers if they accept “pro bono” cases. Often, a lawyer will be interested or in the details surrounding a case and agree to work on a “no fee” basis. Second, check with a “legal services” company. They may be able to offer their services for a fraction of the fee of an attorney.

Personal Injury Lawyer

In some occasions, other persons, named third parties, may offend or injure you mentally or physically. In some occasions, it can be a firm or an institution that hurts you, and not an individual, such as schools, or the government. The majority of these injuries come from broken products, falls, work accidents or car accidents, so they aren’t caused deliberately; to stay safe make sure to contact a personal injury lawyer.

When this happens, the law will blame the guilty party for injuring the other individual. Whenever you are physically injured or you experience emotional pain as a result of a deliberate action or carelessness of a third party, you have the right to be compensated. You have to address to a Personal Injury Lawyer, because he/she is familiar with the actions that have to be taken in order to for you to be compensated.

A lawyer who is an expert in Tort Law is actually a personal injury lawyer, so he knows how to deal with civil wrongs. This kind of lawyer knows how to support his clients and to aid them obtain positive compensation from the other parties that are also involved. If there isn’t an agreement between the parties, the personal injury lawyer will contact an injury attorney to get this case to trial. Remember that if the incident gets to court, your representative has to be at the same level as the one that the other party has. You have to know that insurance companies have great representatives who are very good when it comes to personal injury laws, so your representative has to be the same, if not better. Lawyers must be aware of all the modifications in the law prior to pleading in court in order to support their clients. This way, they specialize in a particular domain which allows them do their job avoiding the risk of not being in touch with the current adjustments or rules.

A reliable lawyer will keep taking legal courses to enhance his knowledge in this field, being aware of the fact that his clients depend on his capacity to understand and arrange laws for their advantage. Prior to choosing a personal injury lawyer, you should check whether he has faced related cases before. In most of the cases, you can find on the internet information about lawyers’ experiences, so use it when you are searching for a great lawyer. If you set an appointment with a personal injury lawyer, which will probably be for free, you will be told if you can receive a financial recompense. For example, if you were involved in a car crash and you demonstrated your innocence, the lawyer will work really hard to get you a financial reimbursement which will pay you back the hospitalization bill or will compensate your lost salaries. A personal injury lawsuit takes a lot of time, so you won’t get your compensation in two days. More than this, since several lawsuits involve excellent acquaintance of the law, there are personal injury lawyers who specialize in specific types of cases, such as mal praxis.

Personal Injury Settlement

You hire a lawyer and she takes all your money. You hire a personal injury lawyer and he takes all your settlement money. That’s how it works, right? You fight in court and only lawyers get paid? Well, myths abound about lawyers, but perhaps some of it is merited. Just like any other profession, lawyers are looking at their bottom line. That does not mean you should forgo an How much does a lawyer get of your settlement? Can you ever go without a lawyer? How does a lawyer help? These questions are important. Let’s answer them.

Can you win?
How do you know if winning is possible? Usually if a professional personal injury lawyer is willing to take your case. You typically pay a portion – some, not all – of your settlement to your lawyer. Therefore, if no one wants to take on your case or will only do it by charging you beyond the settlement, you may consider not filing. Say you were in a car accident, broke your leg, and the injury caused you to miss six months work. Because you were hurt, medical damages should be covered. Because you missed work, that should be compensated. And then any emotional damages such as pain and suffering can be covered. This can really add up to a large number. On the other hand, if you suffered a very minor injury, twisting your ankle, it may not be worth anyone’s time to go through with a lawsuit. A good lawyer taking your case proves you have a chance.

What price should you pay your lawyer?
For personal injury lawsuits, as just noted a lawyer will take a portion of your final settlement. If you reach a fair number outside of court, which is very common, your lawyer takes a smaller portion, typically 25%. If you have to fight in court, the costs may be closer to 35% of the settlement. If a lawyer tries to take a large cut, such as half of the settlement, you should consider someone else.

Is a lawyer worth it?
An experienced personal injury lawyer protects your rights in and out of court. Since most cases are settled far before court, you may think you can forgo a lawyer and just take a cash settlement. True, you might avoid paying a lawyer fee, but you rarely will get the Jaguar XJ Personal Contract Hire full amount you might have gotten. And that’s saying that the offer is even made without a lawyer. They may take you to court instead. In that case, a lawyer is essential.

How do you hire a lawyer?
You can find hundreds of lawyers in your state online, perhaps the quickest way to contact, evaluate, and hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. Many offer free consultations to get you started. Remember that if they charge too little, they may lack experience; and if they charge too much, they won’t be worth it.

What if you lose?
What if you get nothing? You have an honest claim, but the offers before court or lack of offers before court lead you to trial. Then, a judge decides you do not deserve damages. You may think it’s over; you lost. However, if you hire a good lawyer, he or she can take this to appeals court, where, if the laws were not interpreted correctly, you have a second chance to be compensated.

Find Lawyers Online

If shopping to find lawyers online or the more traditional way, it is important to consider these resources to get the right information and the right lawyer.

1. Referrals are the traditional and still the number one resource to find lawyers wherever they may be. These resources can be in the form of relatives, friends, other lawyers and some colleagues or acquaintances who also needed the services of a lawyer. Ask the resources for recommendations.

2. In the past, it was not allowed to post an ad about lawyer services, but no longer. There are now various lawyers who post their services and contact numbers so people who go over magazines, newspapers and other printed media can take note of the numbers and give them a call. There should also be a list in the phone book listing the lawyer services according to their specialties. This should help narrow down the list to go over.

3. The internet is a beautiful resource technology and no one really ignores it. A simple entry on the browser to look for a specific lawyer or specialized lawyers should result to numerous results. There should also be an online directory of the top lawyers and law firms in the county, state and national level.

4. This fourth one is a fairly new concept. It is called a matching service for lawyers and clients. This is a service that will match to the searching client potential lawyers who may be the best to handle the specific case. However, this may not be a good way to keep the confidential information from the world-wide public.

5. The American Bar Association has its own website and it can offer recommendations on the specific lawyer chosen. This site can provide a background check on the lawyer like disciplinary actions taken against the lawyer or if the lawyer chosen is an actual lawyer, not a bogus one. There are many incidents of fake lawyers handling cases and many have already been victimized. Before signing up with the lawyer services, check out their educational background, their bar exam results if need be, even their license to practice. This website will also help the clients if they need to report any problems that may arise while working with that particular lawyer or group of lawyers.

Myths Made To Make You Fear Lawyers

Lawyers and Attorneys consistently get a bad rap from public opinion. Why is that? Most Lawyers are just people with a profession like you that only want to make an honest buck. Just because a small portion represents huge corporate interests that are unpopular the general public has demonized them. I hope to provide you in this article some of the Myths about Lawyers that consistently get passed by word of mouth without any facts to back them up. Lawyers are one of the cornerstones of business, if we didn’t have them criminals would go free and innocents would be executed.

1. All Lawyers are Sharks – The truth is that they are in a very competitive business that requires heated debate as its hallmark. Some take this so far as to manipulate circumstances to appear as they wish or force higher settlements but that is a small group. There are thieves in America but do we assume all American’s are thieves? Most lawyers are honest men and women trying to make a difference in the legal systems of their communities.

2. Lawyers are Overpaid – Often lawyers are actually far underpaid for their services. The average court case requires a lot more than what you see in the courtroom. Legal documentation can be some of the most tedious reading ever, they can take a long time to review and to make sure they missed nothing. Before ever stepping foot in the court they have to interview you, design a brief for the judge, outline their case and review all legal documentation and evidence. This amounts to hundreds of hours usually, even a burger flipper would get a few thousand dollars for that amount of time and effort.

3. Attorneys Try to Draw Out Cases – This is entirely on a person to person basis and exists in every industry, your mechanic does it, your employees do it etc. Most Attorneys have so many cases that resolving them all in a quick manner would be refreshing, often they have finished dozens of other cases before managing to put together a brief for a complicated one. The majority of the time this isn’t because of malice or avarice, it is because the case is very complex and requires many legal hoops to be jumped through.

4. All Good Lawyers are Loud & Boistrous – This isn’t always the case, a lot of the “magic” they perform is paperwork and hours of intense study. The news has sensationalized the image of the lawyer banging his fists and nearly committing contempt in order to achieve true justice. The true crusaders of the endless litigation battle do most of their work in the quiet of their offices. Often times they don’t even get a half an hours worth of time to speak their case. Passion for justice and their client’s cases is great, but it isn’t always exemplified by boisterous natures.

5. Lawyers All Hate Each other – Sometimes in the motions of a court hearing one of the lawyers gets succinctly defeated in a way that damages his reputation. This causes him to lose business and in turn revenue. This will cause animosity in any industry but it does not mean that all Lawyers burn their bridges, if that were true there would be no firms or partnerships. Often times the nature of the legal system causes many lawyers to work together in many scenarios and then face eachother as opposition the next year. There is a certain camaraderie between Lawyers in most larger cities. They are competitors in the same way sports stars are, when the games done most hold no hard feelings over who won or lost, it’s the fans that get furious with eachother, just as clients do for Lawyers.

6. Every Attorney has About the Same Training – This is completely untrue and makes it seem as though only experience makes a lawyer competent. In reality the situation is far more complicated than it may seem, A Probate or Estate Attorney will not necessarily be a competent Defense Attorney. Also location and available resources dictate a lot of how well educated a Lawyer is when they leave law school. If they lived in an area with a large population and lots of seminars they are likely to be better trained than someone that practices in a small city. Also laws change so frequently that age may even cause an issue because they may work on the basis of old laws.

7. You Don’t Need an Attorney – Wrong. The insurance industry wants us to believe that lawyers are an unnecessary bump in the legal system; they just want to keep more of your settlement money. They have entire divisions within their companies designed to cut payouts to the minimum necessary. Even outside of that some people think taking it upon themselves to run their own defense is intelligent. Do they honestly think that they know the legalities of our complicated system better than someone who deals with it on a daily basis? A lawyer is going to have resources and information that would not be easily available or apparent to the common citizen.

8. If I Already Have an Offer I Don’t Want An Attorney – Some people find themselves not wanting to talk to a Lawyer once they see the sum of money they are being offered, afraid the Lawyer will take a large portion. The common fee is in excess of 1/3 after all, but with a Lawyer on your side you may find your settlement offer gets much larger. Often you will not make claims for items because you are unsure if you legally qualify, a good Personal Injury Attorney will be able to find those items you missed and most of the time makes the increased amount far greater than that of the original offer.

9. Insurance Rates Are Going Up Because of Lawsuits – This is being painted in a bad light, of course insurance rates are going up but that is not through fault of the Lawyer, it is the high profit margins the Insurance Industry demands that cause this ever increasing rate. Frivolous lawsuits are not caused by the Lawyers but by their clientele’s demands and deceits. Insurance Companies will use any factor they can to increase rates justifiably and legal costs is an easy scapegoat.

10. Trial Attorneys Charge Hourly – Some Attorneys do charge an hourly rate but this is far from standard practice, there is a precedent that was made only decades after the founding of our country that made it so anyone could obtain representation by paying a percentage of their award at the end of trial. They do this at great risk, they could end up spending months fighting a case that their client lied about to them and they make no money for their hard work.

One industry or another designed these myths, they benefit from you being afraid to approach a Lawyer. These industries see huge profits from cutting legal fees out of their budgeting, if they can get you to fear a lawyer then when they tell you that they think you don’t need one you will listen. The worst thing you can possibly do is decide not to seek legal representation, your opponents will not be so foolish, though many industries tell you not to get a Lawyer they will always use a Lawyer’s services for themselves. Attorneys are just normal people with a complicated profession, no different from many professions. They are providing a valuable service and I for one do not want to have to read up on all the articles of law regarding breaking my ankle on a college campus if such a situation were to happen. So don’t fear them, consult them for sagely advise as you would any expert of any particular field.

Planning Isn’t All About Lawyers

You’re First Consideration, whether you are a young adult of age 18 or a senior of age 65 plus, you need to set up a viable estate plan that protects and provides your loved ones with financial security. So who than should be considered the best possible combination of professionals needed in setting up such a valuable plan?

Make no mistake, there are books and a multitude of software packages available containing pre-written legal documents that are available for your purchase and subsequent use. However, bear in mind Federal laws change and State laws vary on estate planning issues. An outdated form or one containing the incorrect legal terminology can most certainly invalidate or at minimum, create an extended probate of what you thought was a drum-tight estate plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be the first to admit that I have the highest regard for the hard core do-it-yourself individual. However, when it comes to estate planning and all the complex legal issues, I’d also be the first to highly recommend one seek the advice of the schooled professionals. Recommended, with a professionalism requirement in mind, here are some fields of expertise you should consider in achieving a complete estate planning team;

ACCOUNTANT – One of the most personal financial documents you complete annually is your state and federal tax returns. If you use a tax consultant, no one is usually more familiar with your financial situation than these accountants. If you run your own business, the accountant is the one who completes the check and balance sheets. So of course, use your accountant to assist in gathering the information necessary to put together a good estate plan that holds no oversights.

ATTORNEY – Like many professional fields, attorneys as well have specific fields and levels of competence. So, you do not need a criminal lawyer, patent attorney, bankruptcy or medical malpractice specialist configuring your estate plan. Usually a good estate planning attorney can be found under the Family Practice area of expertise. These attorneys are highly capable in drafting wills and preparing the many trusts available for your consideration should you decide such an instrument is needed. There are many other documents available as well and these practicing attorneys are schooled in the essential elements needed to satisfy specific legal requirements. To narrow down your search needs, see my article “Selecting an Estate Planning Attorney.”

FINANCIAL PLANNER – When it comes to estate planning, the financial planner’s specialty is giving advice to you about the multitude of programs and investments available to suit your means. Let there be no doubt, your money can always be more productive! Just remember, there are professionals and there are those that hang a shingle claiming to be an expert. For your own protection and ultimate well being, consider exploring a financial planner that belongs to a National Professional Group. For additional information you can contact the Financial Planning Association at, the Society of Financial Service Professionals at, and/or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors at

LIFE INSURANCE UNDERWRITER – Across the age spectrum it is not unreasonable to state that most of us are underinsured. When it comes to estate planning, life insurance should be an integral part of this plan. Young families should consider Term Insurance which would provide necessary support for a family should one or both parents die. There may be a need for life insurance to make your estate more liquid for example – to pay the taxes without being required to sell assets to settle this debt. Your life insurance underwriter is the most suitable one to determine your needs and the subsequent amount and type of insurance that most favorably meets those needs.

TRUST OFFICER – To help manage your assets even better, you might consider a retirement trust. Perhaps you have already established a trust for your minor children. Talking to your bank or financial institute’s trust officer about their fees and services is most certainly, time well spent. Particularly about trust’s established for minors, as they could require a trust guardian to avoid squandering inherited assets because of their blind faith or immaturity.

In summary, You may or may not need every member of the estate planning team suggested, or at least all of them at any given time within your lifespan. As you grow and achieve the more complex your estate becomes. Thus, the more likely the chances you will have to call upon the range and far reaching capabilities of the professional services suggested.

In conclusion , just as in the current day real estate market, within the estate planning market, it is a buyer’s market as well. So remember, you are doing the hiring! You are not the one being employed and as such, despite the wealth of legal knowledge your team has, you remain in charge of the decision making process. You are the boss and the estate plan you decide upon is a final decision you make based upon your teams professional and legal advice.

Myths About Lawyers

Legal jobs can be a dream come true if one has the right aptitude for the job. To be successful in a legal job one requires a few qualities that are not very common, to be honest. To successfully fight and win a case in the court of law, one needs a certain something. This includes common sense, a fighting spirit, a never say die attitude, a sharp keen mind, the ability to spot details, a knack of poking holes in the opponent’s defense, and a vast knowledge about almost everything. The legal system or jurisdiction needs no introduction. Right from the smallest trouble to a divorce to a homicide case, law covers every aspect of day to day life. Every person, unless he/she is very lucky will have to consult a lawyer at some point in his/her life.

Right from property issues to a will, one needs the help of a lawyer to get through life. While legal nitty-gritties can be a source of headache, having a good lawyer to help you out can relieve you some of the tension. Legal jobs are not just a source of income, they are a source of satisfaction to those who are good at their job. The pay scale of a legal job varies depending on the work you do, but generally lawyers are well paid and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Especially in the United States, legal jobs are a much wanted opportunity as they offer a lot of choices. However the pursuit of a law degree in the US is a difficult task as the laws vary from state to state.

There are some common myths about law jobs and lawyers. The first thing you need to know about law jobs is that laws are different in different countries. In a country like the US, this practice is even more difficult because as mentioned before, laws are not constant and differ depending on the state you are in.

Many people believe that law is a very dry subject that will become monotonous. This however is not true as the pursuit of law can be dynamic and exciting. There is nothing like the satisfaction of winning a case in the court of law, and even if you do not win, every court case is a learning experience that will enrich your mind further. The matching of wits with your opponent and getting the better of him/her is highly satisfying.

It is a common myth that every lawyer is involved in a whole lot of paperwork that makes the job dull and lifeless. While paperwork is an integral part of every case it is not the dominant factor in the job.

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.