Paul Brennan is the principal of Brennans Solicitors, a law firm located on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, where he practices with his wife, Diane in the areas of business law, litigation, property and wills/estates.
Over the years, by working in various countries, he noticed how similar the law can be. He set out to explain the law in a simple and often humorous way.
The other day I met a man with four lawyers from separate law firms. In biblical times they had plagues of various things but not even Job was afflicted by four lawyers. Lawyers are serious professionals, not collector’s items. I don’t think even Imelda Marcos had four lawyers.
People nowadays increasingly want specialists. The problem is that without a form book and some inside knowledge you will find it difficult to pick a winner. Also, the solution suggested by the specialist you choose must not only be proportionate to your problem but also to your ability to pay. Your own general practice lawyer will be in a good position to assess this.
So here are three minimal standards you should look for in a lawyer-
1. Must be a human being. Strangely this is not a Law Society or Bar requirement. How will you know if your lawyer is from the Planet Zog? Well movies like Alien and ET may help. But we do have some lawyers who were formerly accountants and therefore, being dull and a little strange is not a sufficient indication.
2. Must be available. Is your lawyer like the Scarlet Pimpernel? Do you find yourself seeking him here and seeking him there without much success?
3. Must be able to operate the telephone. Some lawyers have had difficulty adapting to this new technology. But please remember that lawyers usually charge on a time basis, so every time your lawyer returns your call it costs you money. Therefore if your lawyer doesn’t say much but delivers (not unlike Clint Eastwood) it is cheaper to let him get on with it.
If you are not that happy with your lawyer, then change. Although it may be more satisfying to stay and make your lawyer’s life a misery it is not good for your own business. Find someone who suits you.
Maybe you need a specialist and maybe you don’t. Why not speak to your own general practice lawyer first who will tell you if you need a specialist and make a recommendation. Don’t follow advertisements or marketing claims.
But as vital as legal advice sometimes may be, I still think four lawyers is not the answer. If God wanted us to have multiple lawyers he would have given us all more money for a start.
If you are in business you need a good lawyer. A good lawyer is someone you trust and someone who keeps you out of trouble. It’s a partnership and a lawyer you trust can help you get the right balance between seeking legal advice too often, which can be unnecessarily costly in legal fees, and not seeking enough advice, which can leave you exposed to other problems and potentially higher costs.
Some legal issues arise repeatedly in business. Being forewarned is being forearmed.
© Paul Brennan 2010-18. All rights Reserved.
Extract from "The Law is an Ass—make sure it doesn’t bite yours!