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Dec 05
2013

Managing a Lawyer

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Since I work with attorneys at times, clients ask me for advice on how to best manage a client- attorney relationship. One client struggled with an attorney while he started a business. The lawyer seemed to be a perfectionist. This costs time and money.

I have set up basic businesses in one or two days with the attorney I use. We cover the basics, and then get going. The cost and time benefit of taking several weeks for a detailed review is a waste of money. I recently asked my attorney to review a promissory note contract I wanted to use in my business. He told me that the basic agreement was fine.  He could have rewritten the agreement, charged a large fee, and I would have gained little or nothing from the changes.

Another client experienced a problem when an employee departed and started contacting customers in clear violation of a non-compete agreement. The lawyer was still reviewing the agreement after four days while the ex-employee was  attempting to take customers. At the client’s request, I spoke with the attorney who was concerned that “everything needed to be correct before moving forward.” I explained that he had the signed non-compete agreement which provided evidence that the former agreement was being violated.  I told him that time was not our friend. I explained that a simple letter sent immediately doesn’t need every legal argument spelled out. I suggested writing the employee with the following reminders:  1) they signed a non-compete agreement;  2) they were in violation of the agreement; 3) they must cease and desist;  4) if they did not, you would file a request for an injunction and monetary damages. The lawyer should be able to draft and send that letter in one or two hours.

 Most perfectionists lack confidence.  They keep reworking something even if it provides only slight improvement. An attorney needs to be confident in order to provide you with guidance.  Your legal professional should be able to stand up to others on your behalf. When challenged, you may have only a moment to gather your thoughts. Hire attorneys that deliver promptly and don’t waste time over minor details.

King Solomon wrote, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4, NIV) Understand the difference between perfectionism and delivering solid work. Make sure your legal professional understands it as well. 

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