Why Even Use a Lawyer

Why even use a lawyer these days? You can download a wide variety of legal documents, from non-disclosure agreements to wills to leases and fill in the blanks yourself. Even lawyers have been heard to note that the practice is sometimes 90% marking up precedents. Why not save the money and do at least basic stuff yourself? The answer, as self-serving as it may sound, is that the remaining 10% is often where all the issues reside. At this point, it might be useful to point out that chimpanzees and humans share 98.8% of their DNA, but that 1.2% makes a rather noticeable difference. Among other things, chimpanzees have not yet developed a legal system, or at least a written one. And few of us can swing from trees. If in doubt, I and many other lawyers offer a free initial consultation. You may decide after that to go ahead and do it yourself, and that may be the right decision—but sometimes, it is worth it to at least check in.

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Before You Talk to Your Estate Lawyer

It may seem counter intuitive that a lawyer would agree with this statement from an article in Forbes: “Some of the most important work on your estate plan doesn’t take place in the lawyer’s office. It doesn’t even involve the details of the will, trusts, probate, powers of attorney, and the rest of the cornucopia of estate planning documents and strategies.”  https://www.forbes.com/sites/bobcarlson/2018/05/15/two-key-steps-to-successful-estate-planning/#697c26b4a6b7  But it’s absolutely true. The more time you spend thinking through what you really want to accomplish with your estate plan before your walk into your lawyer’s office, the easier it will be for your estate lawyer—and that much less expensive and time-consuming for you.

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Cutting the Cost of Business Disputes

Despite my years as a C-level executive, I never could entirely escape the practice of law, because legal disputes are now an almost daily occurrence in the business world. Disputes with contractors, employees, clients, shareholders; the list, unfortunately; goes on and on. As a business manager or owner, you also know that as soon as you pick up the phone and call your lawyer, the billing clock starts ticking at several hundred dollars an hour. Sometimes your lawyer can help you resolve issues quickly and efficiently; I certainly try to. What do you do, though, when the situation escalates? Even arbitration is an extended and expensive process, and litigation can be ruinous for all but the biggest companies. On top of the legal and professional fees, there is your time, energy and focus, taken away from running your business.

Mediation can offer a solution. In many cases, a mediation can be complete in a day, and there are studies showing it is successful 80-90% of the time. It is common, even required by the courts in some kinds of disputes, but business people often aren’t aware of it or don’t consider it as an option. I wish I had known about it when I was managing a business and that is one of the reasons I am offering it now.

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