HE SAYS:

At the risk of sounding schizophrenic or appearing to be suffering from multiple personalities, I must say that during my many years in the practice of law I was, at various times, an idealist, a realist, a skeptic, and a cynic.

In an ideal world, the practice of law and, in particular, trial work should be all about the search for the truth.   The rules of evidence and the give and take of examining and cross examining witnesses are designed to flush out the truth by putting the testimony and evidence to the test on the theory that the best way to find the truth is through our modern day version of trial by fire.  The search for the truth should be the goal of all of the attorneys and the court.   The trial should not be about winning or losing since, presumably, everyone wins if the truth wins out.

In reality, the practice of law and, particularly, litigation is all about winning.   Yes, the truth is still important, but in time you realize that truth is a relative term that is subject to interpretation.   Your truth may not be my truth and the jury often deals with just the perception of truth rather than some elusive absolute truth.   This is the case even in criminal prosecutions where a person’s life is at stake instead of just mere money.   How often have you heard prosecutors say that they intend to win a conviction or defense attorneys say that they will win an acquittal?   Where is the truth in all of this winning?

When I first interviewed a potential client, I started with the assumption that everything he was telling me was the truth; however, I would also need to have a healthy dose of skepticism before I completely bought into his version of events.   It is not just about whether or not he was lying since it is a fact that a person’s perception of events can be influenced by such things as emotions and bias.   Sometimes, your client honestly believes what he wants to believe even if it is not completely accurate.   It would be in my best interest and that of my client to, whenever possible, independently verify the key components of the case before any action was started.

Finally, when you encounter witnesses and even clients that have not been truthful or situations that seem to be unjust and far from the honest pursuit of the truth, you can easily become a cynic about the system and the basic goodness of people.   This may be an occupational hazard of being an attorney but you must not let it get the best of you.

When you are a litigator it seems that all of your emotions are also on trial.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

HE SAYS:

I am sure most people consider lawyers a necessary evil, at best; however, there can be no doubt that, at times, a good lawyer is indispensable.   Since I practiced law for over thirty years, you might think that I am biased in this opinion; however, if you want to be successful, I strongly recommend that you develop a good relationship with a lawyer who can become an integral part of your business team.    Here are some valid reasons  for small business owners to seek the services of a good lawyer.

Before starting any business, it makes sense to meet with your lawyer to discuss the various forms in which you may operate your business as well as the legal and tax ramifications of each business structure.

When operating any business, there will be many occasions when it will become necessary to enter into important contracts and agreements.   In today’s complicated business world, any such legal documents can be rife with pitfalls that can be devastating to your business if you are not careful.   In this regard, there is no substitute for the help and guidance your lawyer can provide you.

The life blood of any business is its cash flow.   The ability to collect accounts receivables is essential to the success of your business.   If your in-house collection efforts fail, you may find that the services of a lawyer is one way to pry that money loose.

Labor and workplace issues such as wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and employee safety can cripple a small business with even a few employees.   This is another area where the advice and counsel of your lawyer can prevent these issues from ever becoming a problem.

You operate your business to make a living and for your family’s future; however, it is not always easy to keep that hard earned money.   The advice of a lawyer can be a great resource to help you plan and implement effective estate and retirement strategies that make sure you and your family hang on to as much of this money as possible.

After you spend years building your business, you may want that business to continue after you retire.   Again, sound legal advice can help you plan for a successful transition of your business to your children or maximize your profits upon a sale to a third party.

Even in the unfortunate circumstances of your business going under, a lawyer will be essential to help you successfully navigate through the complicated Bankruptcy Laws and plan for the orderly liquidation of the business.

From time to time, we will provide blog entries on general business and legal topics that I believe will be of interest to small business owners.   These blog entries will not be intended to be a substitute for the advice of your own lawyers, accountants, and financial planners.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?