Tuesday, December 05, 2006

When the Government Calls . . . Answer

Woody Allen famously said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

One sure way to insure non-success in legal matters involving the government is to fail to appear. The classic failure to appear occurs in judicial settings. Ignoring traffic citations and parking tickets, phone calls and letters from representatives of taxing entities, failing to file various documents and non-conformance to various formalities imposed by law, all amount to potential future problems and are another form of "failing to appear."

While failure to appear for some types of court and administrative hearings can land a person in jail, other types of failure to appear may not have obvious consequences. Failure to adhere to the legal formalities imposed by statute and case law can have profound financial consequences on the owners of closely held corporations when the protection of the corporate form is taken away. It’s human nature to believe that we will never be in a situation where our own business fails, and, thus, the rules don’t apply to us.

Arguably, it is hard to hear the call of the government amongst the din and clamor of daily life, but for those who don’t answer the consequences can be severe. All lawyer jokes aside, one of the primary roles of attorneys in this society and throughout the world is to assist citizens in answering the call of their government. In navigating the maze of answering the government’s call, help is available, and, it pays to be well advised.