I love Subway. I get to go in and order exactly what I want on my sandwich from a pretty wide selection. From time to time the sandwich maker will not have a poker face and make it clear it is not what they would eat or they are bold enough to quizzically ask Are you sure you don’t want any sauce? I get to reassure them and be on my merry way with a boring but healthy sandwich.
As great as that is for a sandwich, it is a horrible approach and relationship with a lawyer. Lawyers are often referred to as Advisor, Counsel or Confidant because those are the roles we serve. Working with a lawyer should be more than just placing an order. Why? How should it go?
The “why” is simple. If you are going to spend the money on any professional then make sure you are getting what you pay for – the right advice, document and assistance or whatever. Try as I might to suggest to my doctor what I think my ailment is, the doctors alway insists on making their own diagnosis. Amazingly, my legal degree has not yet qualified me to diagnose myself. While I have been right (having “been there done that”), I’ve also just as equally been wrong. All people still need advice in areas outside of their expertise.
“How should it go” gets to differences in attorney-client relationships. As a client you are best served by telling your lawyer in plain English three main things. First, the goal you have in mind. This information should not be limited to just the project at hand, but rather the goals for your business or family as a whole. Second, your immediate project or legal need. Finally, your expectations for the relationship, timing and project. Yes, you can still share your self-diagnosis but be open to the legal advice available.
If your lawyer does not push you beyond your “self-diagnosis” or request, insist on that advice. Ask directly – Is this the best fit for my business, for my family or for me? Are there other options available? You may find something that saves you time, money and accomplishes your goals better than you could have imagined.
Use the knowledge you are paying for. Build a relationship with your lawyer as a partner in your success. Tap into our advice, experiences and expertise. I find my clients are better served and my practice is more enjoyable when I work with clients on this level. Crises are avoided, time is saved, businesses succeed and it is far more fun to work toward a common goal on common ground.
Please note – The information provided is not legal advice, accounting advice, financial advice, et cetera, but rather a starting point to consider legal and other planning issues in your business or personal life. You should consult the appropriate professional to discuss your situation.