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Attorneys are Expensive?!?

Posted by Jeremy Shorts on December 11, 2009

Some things should simply NOT be in the “do-it-yourself” category.  There’s a reason I pay an accountant to do my taxes.  I could try to figure it out on my own, but he’s better at it, and I can rely on his accuracy to claim all my deductions, navigate potential problems, and avoid penalties.  Although I may be biased, handling some legal issues should not be in a “do-it-yourself” category.

I like to ask clients “What are the downsides to having an attorney help you through this situation?”  After a few lawyer jokes (including one or two from me), they almost always say “Attorneys are expensive!”  I don’t argue with that very much, attorneys can be expensive.

Expense is Relative

At what point is something expensive?  What if it costs $1,000, is it expensive?  But what if that $1,000 expense actually provides you with $2,000 in benefits (tax savings, legal protection, etc.)?  If that were the case, it would actually be MORE expensive to NOT to hire an expert.  You have to consider the benefits of the expense.  While a good attorney may be expensive, the benefits of their services will often outweigh the costs.  The real question you should ask is this:

  • What is more expensive:
    • Paying for an attorney in the planning stages to navigate potential legal land-mines?  Or
    • Paying for an attorney to fix problems that you didn’t foresee?

The answer is simple…  I would estimate you’ll spend at least 3-5 times more to fix those address the situation if your attorney is brought in after the problems have already arisen.  I think this estimate of cost is a minimum, preventative maintenance is always easier, more effective and cheaper than emergency action.

Prevention is the Best Medicine…

I’ve already quoted Benjamin Franklin last week.  He wasn’t kidding when he said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  By attempting to avoid legal fees up front in the planning stages, you will very often pay MUCH more if an attorney has to fix problems.  As an attorney, it’s always easier to point out potential legal land-mines before they’ve gone off. If I get a call after the explosion, it is MUCH more difficult (and maybe impossible) to accomplish my client’s objectives.  Also, the time and costs increase dramatically from trying to put the pieces back together.

Lawyers & Leaks

As we speak, my car has an oil leak that is dripping in my garage.  I don’t know very much about cars, but I do know that mechanics are expensive.  I have two options: (1) call a mechanic, or (2) do-it-myself.  After looking through a few things on the internet, I decide to give it a shot myself to save a buck.  I start removing bolts and pulling parts off of the engine.  Now my knuckles are beat up and bloody, I’m covered in grease, and parts and pieces are everywhere.  But I still can’t figure out how to fix the leak.  As I survey the scattered pieces of the engine, I also realize that I have no idea how to put the engine back together.  I finally do something I should have done BEFORE I ripped apart the engine: call a mechanic.

Can the mechanic help me?  Sure.  But is it going to be more expensive that just fixing the oil leak?  Absolutely.  My original bill of a few hundred dollars just skyrocketed because the mechanic now has to fix the other problems I’ve created.  By trying to avoid an expensive bill, I really get a hard lesson in defining what “expensive” really means.

Bottom Line – Unless you know what you’re doing, don’t rip your engine apart.  And don’t become a “do-it-yourself” attorney.  There is a reason we are required to obtain a law degree.

Visit my website for free rental contracts and eviction forms: www.utahevictionlaw.com
Contact me for a free consultation.
Jeremy Shorts – Attorney at Law
Phone: 801-610-9879
Email: jeremy@utahevictionlaw.com

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