Ask anyone what a lawyer does and they will probably tell you that they go to court and sue people or help people find a way to get out of a contract. While that is true, in part, I have found that in my over two decades of practicing law, the most important service I provide is helping my client’s sleep better at night. I know that sounds corny, but almost without fail, my clients tell me that is why they turn to me time and time again with their problems – because I help them rest easier at night, I reduce the issues that keep them up.
Clearly, I need to know the law, to understand contract language and be prepared to provide advice as to legal requirements – but that is a given for any good lawyer. I have found that it is much more important to be able to take that knowledge and use it to provide clear and simple explanations of the law, of contracts, of disputes and find or create solutions for my clients – so they can understand their position and their options. Once they are able to understand what they are up against in simple terms, they can do what business owners do – make informed decisions.
With knowledge comes confidence – and sleepless nights are minimized because my clients are able to understand the risks they face and create a road map, a plan of attack, as to what they need to do to reduce those risks, the uncertainty they face – because the more information they have, the better, and more confident, decision they can make, with a greater understanding of the potential consequences of their actions.
Many treat law as a mysterious and complicated morass, and, although it often proves to be so, you can plan to address the uncertainty involved if you understand the process. I am here to help you understand the situation you find yourself in, figure out what you want to accomplish and then determine whether you can achieve your goals, or if you cannot, how we can address the problem to come up with the best possible solution. I help you understand the process, whether it be the terms of a Letter of Intent, how long a due diligence investigation will take, what it means if you agree to indemnity someone, what limits you face if a supplier breaches a purchase order and fails to deliver raw materials you need to finish a project, what types of liability you face in selling your goods and services – so that you can make an informed decision as to how to operate your business. I help you separate the “wheat from the chaff” when looking at a 40 page contract from you main customer to determine what items you have to change, I help you figure out how you best prepare to sell your business and maximize the value you receive, I help you grow the business by illustrating the obstacles you will have to overcome when buying a business or expanding into a new geographic territory or a new product line, I help you work out the terms of your supply chain management and your independent sales network.
I don’t make the decisions for you, although I will certainly give you my opinion – rather, I try to provide the greatest amount of relevant information to allow you to make the best decision at that time and minimize the risks of those decisions.
The standard refrain I hear from my clients is that they need someone that is looking out for their interests, that helps them figure out their “blind spots”, to help them understand what they do not know when it comes to making decisions, and what could happen to them based on their decisions. They have expressed great frustration that many attorneys are content to tell them what they can’t do – and that is the end of the discussion – or the explanation is so complicated that they are unable to decide what to do. They tell me that they want and value someone that is not satisfied with saying “No, you can’t do that” – they want someone that thinks creatively, that is looking for a solution that has not occurred to the business owner. They don’t want someone that speaks in “legalese” or uses so many acronyms and terms of art that they need a handbook to translate the advice given.
Although I focus on the law (as that is my primary role), I am not content with that role – rather, I look beyond the contract, beyond the statutes, rules and regulations and look to see how I can facilitate a business solution to a legal problem, how I can provide a practical solution to address the needs of the parties – and I strive to always follow my conclusion that “No, you can’t do that” with a “but” – I want to be able to say, “No, you can’t do that, but have you considered whether you could do this, or this, or this.” Also, I have a clear appreciation that in 90% of the cases, you will come to me with an issue with respect to someone that you have done business with for years, as well as the realization that you will likely need to continue to do business with this party or your business will suffer. As a result, I consciously put my ego aside when dealing with the issue – I am acutely aware that my desire to “win” the argument is subordinate to your goals; my job is to figure out what you want to accomplish and the best way to do that, even if it means I have to cede an argument that I know will win the day in court – my desire to “win” is focused on helping you achieve your goals rather than winning every argument – I derive much more satisfaction when you get what you want or need than I do winning an argument that ultimately does not advance your cause.
So, isn’t it about time you can sleep better at night after talking with your attorney?