Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why you need a lawyer (and an accountant)

This summer I've seen several cases where, if the parties had initially seen a lawyer when they got started in the endeavor that is the genesis of the current problem, they would need less of my help right now or could have avoided seeing a lawyer altogether.

A few thoughts:

1) Using canned software or even document "mills" is a sure way to create problems down the road for many reasons including bad documents, incomplete documents, irrelevant documents and clauses, and, problems due to the failure to follow up.

2) Prosecutors are not your friends, and you should never accept a plea bargain without competent legal evaluation. And, in many cases competent means someone other than assigned counsel.

3) Alford pleas-please no, if you didn't do it, why take the rap? This plea will follow, follow you and you will be forever explaining yourself on the societal presumption of "where there is smoke there is fire."

4) Fear coupled with ignorance is recipe for disaster in self-help legal work. Spend the money for an hour of legal consultation or if you absolutely cannot, go to the excellent website at http://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/ for guidance on most simple legal matters.

5) When you handle money or property for yourself or others, proper tracking of the funds received and expended is essential and not optional. Do not try to cut costs or save time by not properly accounting. Get to know your accounting professional before you need them. It can be difficult to find competent accounting assistance when you are faced with litigation without an existing relationship with a pro.

6) Keeping up on the accounting issues will significantly reduce the chances you'll need a lawyer.