Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Dummy’s Guide to Working with Lawyers

A Dummy’s Guide to Working with Lawyers

People rarely understand genius – Socrates, Emily Bronte, Newton, Oscar Wilde, Joan of Arc, lawyers, etc. Despite our messianic work, we remain largely under-appreciated by humankind, particularly the client demographic which mostly ignores us outside EFCC custody. Our glaring indispensability to life and business is scarcely recognised by obsequious bowing or at least palm trees for our overpriced car to ‘tread upon’. People do not appreciate us enough!

Regardless, we remain steadfast to the cause, staying true to advocacy and ministering at the temple of justice for a fee. Therefore, in my altruistic mode, I have decided to help hapless clients in understanding their lawyers, just in time to make New Year resolutions.

Yes, I am kind, thoughtful, good and generous – a lawyer!

1. Never lie to your Lawyer – We Will Know
You cannot con a conman. I realise how tempting it is to look good and paint your picture as the wronged party but we see through untrained lying. This is because we are trained to tell ‘untruths’ in an objective and appealing manner and are more likely to do a better job. Always tell your lawyer the truth and let us retell it for you.

2. We are Indispensable – Get Used to it.
The lawyer is indispensable to the flow of life and business because we are smart and good (did I say that before?). Lawyers always win - although this may not necessarily be your lawyer.

3. Never Play Lawyer – We are Always Better than You Are
Don’t fall into the trap of arguing your case by yourself in the courts. Remember Eve in the Garden of Eden? She could have hired a lawyer. She did not – see where she ended up?

4. Pay your Bills on Time Every Time
This is as simple as it gets – pay up. We will hound you twice as hard as we hounded the other party until we get our money.

5. Stop Asking for Free Advice – Seriously!
Would you call a doctor on the phone for advice on your broken arm? No.
Would you stop a dentist on her way to the bathroom to get your teeth out? No.
Only the most desperate people would answer these questions in the affirmative – the same desperate people who never want to pay for reviewing an agreement or legal opinion.
Yes, we will smile, restrain ourselves from throwing a tantrum and give you free advice but we really do not like it.

6. Listen and Learn
We want you to clinch the deal and make money so that you can pay us. Whatever you think, your lawyer is not a spoil sport. We actually want your business to succeed. Don’t negotiate without us. When we say no, we usually have a reason to say that and it does not always have a thing to do with the fact that we don’t like the lawyer on the other side.

7. Respect Associates
The partners are the most important in every law office right? Wrong.
While we do not dispute our proximity to the life beneath the ladder, we get the work done. So next time you attend a meeting with your lawyers, please say hello the poor overworked associates taking notes behind the charming partner on your right. This may determine how quickly and well your work gets done.

Associates usually have a law degree and rarely major in coffee making – do not ask us to make your coffee, tea, anything. Walk to the tea table, scoop, pour, add water; pretty easy, eh?

There! Seven easy tips for a better year.

One more thing - to a beautiful year filled with joy, a better economy, fewer loans and more investments, and more love for the wig and gown. *Clinks coffee mugs*

Happy 2010.

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