This happens more often than people would like to admit and it’s very unfortunate. One of the best things about hiring a lawyer to work with you on a transaction is tapping into their experience and training and expertise. Quite simply, a good lawyer, particularly a transactional business lawyer, will know how a transaction is supposed to progress. They’ll know what some of the standard terms are, and they’ll know what the key negotiation points are.
Of course, we know lawyers are expensive, at least in nominal dollars. The hourly rates seem to add up and everything takes time. Quality work does take time to complete. When I think about all the hours I’ve spent working on my antique cars and how much effort it takes to get something completed, I know it’s not just legal work that takes time. All quality work takes time to complete. The same could be said of a painter, of a musician, or as an athlete training for their next event. It takes time to complete quality work. We have to work hard to get that accomplished.
A lot of times, people are trying to save the hourly rate to cut down the hours, to economize on the cost of a lawyer. I can certainly understand that. I don’t enjoy when I get large bills from my vendors because I realize that I’ve spent money that I may not have wanted to spend, but I often get a lot of value from their work. Likewise, a good lawyer can add significant value to you and your business. They can find opportunities that you’re missing. They can make sure that you’re not signing something that’s going to cause problems later. They can help you understand the risks involved. They can help you get more from the negotiations to get to where you really want to get to.
So often, what happens is we find that people paint their lawyers into the corner. They agree to certain things and have certain understandings that don’t give the lawyer flexibility to work on the best strategies, to create opportunities, and to negotiate with leverage. Often when a lawyer is retained, it’s so late in the process that all the lawyer can do is dot Is, cross Ts, and advise on major risks. The ability to utilize that lawyer’s skills, talents, and abilities to really save money and to create future opportunities is gone. I want people to think more about the relationship with their lawyer. About the interaction, about having the right person there to do the right things so that you end up with the best possible deal rather than being reactionary and not getting the ability to capitalize on great opportunities that might be present in their transaction.
What’s been your experience with this? Have you ever had a situation where you retained a professional late and lost opportunities? Maybe you don’t even know the extent of opportunities you’ve missed because there was not even a discussion about them. Maybe you have left money and opportunity on the table or taken too much risk. Join us in the comments below and let us know about your thoughts and experience.
Each case is unique. Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein. This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. Each case is unique. Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. FreeImages.com/photographer Ria Mendoza.
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