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Make the Most of Your Lawyer in 2016

Most people view attorneys like insurance: It always seems expensive, you only use it when you need to, and when you need to, you’re happy it’s there-but it’s usually because something went wrong. And we understand. But, there’s ways to utilize a lawyer before the big things happen, which will help you avoid unnecessary costs, pitfalls and problems, especially if you are a business owner.

But most business owners find themselves in a pickle-you can’t afford to use a lawyer all the time, but if you don’t use the lawyer, it can cost you more than you can afford.

The answer? There are good guidelines for when you should call the lawyer and when you should dig in and do the work yourself. Not a business owner? No problem-these apply to just about any lawyer/client relationship. We’ve written up a few tips on when you do or don’t call your lawyer. Just call it our “Happy New Year” gift to you.

  • Do find a good attorney before you need one. When you’re in trouble, you’re more likely to hire the first attorney that answers the phone, and that’s not the right way to choose the one that’s right for you. By “interviewing” lawyers when you’re not in the thick of legal problems allows you to find out if you work well together; do they return calls punctually, do they specialize in certain areas of law you do or don’t need, and do you understand their billing system (i.e. do they have one).
  • Don’t forget to ask for a fee agreement. What’s a fee agreement? Exactly. And that’s why you need to see it. It basically spells out what your attorney expects to get paid for each service, and when. Review the agreement to see what the hourly rate is, if they charge per hour in increments, if work by less experienced associates will cost less, if they charge per page to draft a contract or other legal document. Worried about negotiating or discussing the fee agreement? Don’t be. We’re actually happy you asked for one and have read it-it saves us headaches down the road.
  • Don’t be unprepared for a meeting. If you’re paying by the hour for your attorney’s time, make sure you’re prepared so you can get started right away. If you don’t have an outline of your situation, relevant paperwork, and specific questions, you’ll waste time organizing your thoughts. In fact, if you create the outline and accompanying documents and send them to your attorney before the meeting, you’ll save even more time.
  • Do go to their office. Ever heard of house calls? Usually house calls mean a doctor, but sometimes attorneys will make them too. But don’t do it-you’ll save yourself money by going to them, and avoid being billed for travel time and mileage.
  • Do call them when you’re obviously in trouble. Have you been served with papers? Has someone made a formal complaint? Call your attorney immediately. The longer you wait, the less time they have to analyze the situation and find a cost-effective and amenable solution for you. By waiting until the last minute, you may incur overtime costs as well as annoying your legal counsel when you really need them.
  • Don’t think of a lawsuit as a backup plan. Just because you can sue someone later isn’t a substitute for using good sense on a day to day basis. Do that background or credit check. Do your due diligence on a potential vendor or supplier. Because if you do have to sue, you’re still probably going to be out of pocket, even if you win.

Hopefully you won’t find yourself in too much legal trouble in 2016, but if you do, follow this advice and call us when you need us: 714-713-4525 or send an email inquiry. We do specialize in certain areas, and as defense attorneys, we are on your side. Have a safe and happy New Year’s celebration, and here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2016.

This is not an attorney-client communication, and as such no advice is being offered in this article. Any and all communications related to the Glew & Kim Law website should be deemed and considered advertisement. This article is purely opinion, and the basis of this and any opinion was formed subject to the reporting by the actual news agencies, the information from which was used as source material.