Whether you are dealing with "trouble clients," having partner issues or launching new business ventures, these are just a few of the myriad reasons why firms need a lawyer of their very own on call to help them clarify issues and act through an ethical and practical plan.
The practice of law makes us all busy. Between court, client management, and administrative duties, we are asked to make a multitude of decisions every day. Some of these decisions get "locked up" - when we are going to have to make a decision but we are not sure which way to go. Remember, making a decision not to make a decision is still a decision, and is the number one reason why we get stuck. Time rarely improves our choices. In the meantime, other things hit our plate, and soon the hours melt into days, days into weeks, and the problem gets worse. How do others - successful people - make these decisions? They have the help of specialists that can see the big picture, who bring an objective view to their situation, point out the factors that clarify, and help to find a way out. For firms operating with an on call lawyer, that help is just a phone call away. Most do not have an individual or team they can go to when the decision is not clear. Successful attorneys and Firms get help when they need it.
Privilege and Confidentiality
When a lawyer gets called, the client gets confidentiality and privilege. The whole gamut of facts and action are discussed. The smart client tells his lawyer the truth and gets the best advice. This is easy as the client divulges things he would not tell anyone else, with the assurance that those things will not go any further. Lawyers and Firms need the same assurances, candor, and protections. Lawyers and Firms need the same guidance without the worry that something will get out to a competitor, client, or prospective client. Only another Lawyer or Firm can provide that kind of protection. Formally retaining another Firm or Lawyer assures the protection, and your privilege.
Anyone who has practiced for any amount of time has encountered a difficult client. What you do, how you communicate, and how you move forward can mean the difference between a speed bump or a crash with the Attorney Grievance Commission. Lawyers are people too, and get caught up in the emotions of the moment. Confronted with an angry client, a whiny client, a pestering client, are you sure that your emotions are not leading you into a trap? Sometimes just thinking about a client or a situation irritates us, making our work and practice a burden. Calling a lawyer who had decades of experience is reassuring. It can mean the difference between a nightmare and orderly disposition in a quick fashion, before the experience sours us on our business.
Nothing is worse than having Partner issues. Divorce practice is often demanding because emotions are charged, and people feel trapped. Partnership is the same; Partners can feel trapped. Imagine having a Partner with an addiction problem: a problem he does not see or acknowledge. What do you do? Any time you try to bring up the problem, he or she gets defensive, apologetic, or worse: abusive. Your whole Firm is probably being affected. The situation is not getting better. Where do you turn to get some advice and help? If you seek counsel in friends, nothing is confidential. Nothing travels faster than drama and bad news. Retaining a lawyer who has dealt with these issues can help, both you, and your Partner.
New Business Ventures
You have a client who wants to go into business with you. You are approached by another Firm to collaborate. A non-lawyer makes what looks like a profitable proposal. An older lawyer is thinking about retiring and you see potential to expand your business through a deal. All of these examples give rise to issues. In over thirty years of practice, I have heard my share of stories from attorneys that missed opportunities because they did not know how to structure a possible agreement. Lawyers tend to be risk-adverse; we do not like uncertainty. As a result, we will usually see an opportunity as more trouble than it is worth. After all, we have clients who are already making demands and the pay is pretty good. The greatest impediment to "great" is "good" - or worse yet, "good enough." Don't settle for good enough. Reach out to a Lawyer who can ask the right questions. Find a lawyer who has dealt with these issues before. You may be close to a surprisingly easy and safe way to make some of these opportunities become fruitful opportunities for you and your Firm. Get some guidance to turn these proposals into your gold.
Take Your Own Advice
Why not take the advice you give others everyday? Get yourself a good Lawyer or Firm that has a substantial client base of Lawyers, that has experience - and make something great happen.
"Why Your Law Firm Needs a Lawyer" originally written and published as a legal guide on Avvo.com by Brian Vincent Monday, Sept 29, 2014 - http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/why-your-law-firm-needs-a-lawyer