Everyone Needs One

Everyone Needs One

By: Henry Goodman, Esq.

It seems to have been forgotten that everyone, whether individual or entity, needs a lawyer. In years gone by this need was taken care of by a family or company attorney. These professional advisors were often treated like members of the family or company and few important matters were decided without their counsel. Those valued relationships have disappeared for the most part.

A recent case in Florida brought home the need for closer ties between clients and attorneys. A homeowner contracted for the construction of a $650,000 home on his oceanfront lot. Sadly for him, six months later and after the house had been completed, he discovered that the house was not built on his lot but on his neighbor’s lot.

Of course I immediately started to wonder whether any protection had been built into the contract between the lot owner and the builder. What had happened at the permitting stage and inspection stage that let this error continue? It is inconceivable to me that lawyers were not involved but I know from experience that people sometimes think they can do these jobs themselves and save money.

Quite often clients present me with a signed contact, offer or memorandum of understanding and then ask me if I see any problems with these signed documents. Oftentimes, they have bound themselves into a situation that is the subject of these legal documents and at that point correcting any problems can be difficult, costly and perhaps uncorrectable.

The point is, though you may have to pay a lawyer, you should seek counsel before you make a promise, engage others or sign any document. It may be less costly in the long run. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

Jokes may be made about lawyers but, as I indicated at the start of these comments, everyone and every entity needs one at some time. Having a relationship with an attorney who practices in the area where your interests lie (or knowing one whom you can trust to refer you to such an attorney) can ultimately mean a “lot” to you!