An Open Letter to Small Business Owners and Regular Folks: Advice and Counsel vs. Overpriced Attorneys

At some point in our lives, most of us have the misfortune of being really sick. During such unfortunate times we sometimes recall an outstanding medical professional who helped get us back to health. While undoubtedly grateful for their service, most people would have preferred not to have been seriously ill in the first place. Preventative medicine is vastly preferred to a serious bout of illness.

This analogy holds true when it comes to a lawyer’s role in providing “advice and counsel.” Advice and counsel is the legal realm’s equivalent preventative medicine.

This is a hard truth to convey to clients, but a cruel truth nonetheless: litigation itself inherently limits the outcomes available.

Much like preventative medicine, advice and counsel is a cost-effective preventative measure that often reduces the emotional and financial drain of litigation. Like an illness that strikes without symptoms, it is a rare occurrence to be sued without any prior warning. As a general rule, people do not usually initiate lawsuits without a narrative of grievances behind their complaint.

By the time litigation occurs a good attorney will acknowledge that, as a general rule, they do not have control of the outcome. This is a hard truth to convey to clients, but a cruel truth nonetheless: litigation itself inherently limits the outcomes available. Courts are concerned about what the law says and what relief the law permits, not what you think is a just punishment for your suffering. (Criminal and family law are different beasts yet this advice holds true, albeit in different contexts).

However, preemptive advice and counsel often alleviates future suffering. A client’s options are almost invariably better when a lawsuit is not occurring. When clients come to me with a problem that is brewing, I can usually do a lot more before litigation is commenced. Just as litigation limits your options to judicial relief, the reverse holds true when a lawsuit is not pending: usually, clients have more options – more effective options – to get the outcomes they actually want.

I cannot stress enough that advice and counsel is so much cheaper compared to litigation. Just as preventative medicine is vastly preferred to illness, effective diagnosis of a legal problem helps alleviate the malaise of litigation – and its sticker shock on your wallet.

If you, the savvy legal consumer, have read this far – thank you. In thanks, I will share an uncomfortable truth for my profession: lawyers have never been more affordable – if you shop around.

Why should you underwrite a law firm’s summer associate, when the firm should “no charge” you that associate’s research time to learn about adverse possession?

Our traditional business models are hurting – in no small part due to the COVID-19 crisis. Larger and mid-sized firms, with formerly rock-solid clients, are seeing surprisingly affluent clients requesting payment plans, or not paying their bills at all.

Many “prestigious” or self-important law firms overextended themselves over the last 10 years. Why should you underwrite a law firm’s summer associate, when the firm should “no charge” you that associate’s research time to learn about adverse possession? Small business owners and regular folks with IRAs and mortgages should get the same commitment to affordable, quality legal services that large firms’ institutional clients get.

The savvy legal consumer is about to realize the enormous bargaining power they possess – if they just shop around. Whether you choose myself or a worthwhile colleague for your legal needs, I hope that you will not accept the status quo.

If you have any questions concerning this article, COVID-19, or inquires about obtaining my legal services, feel free to contact me at rtl@rtleelaw.attorney. Please remember the above-article does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s