In the world of internet search engines, information “clouds”, and ready-made forms, I have increasingly noticed that individuals are attempting to self-draft their own legal documents. As someone who prides himself on being cost-conscious, I do not begrudge people who are trying to save money in order to use it to grow their businesses or to invest it in other ventures. With that being said, it is important that people understand why this can be a dangerous practice. Unlike a doctor, a lawyer’s unique skill set is not a physical trait such as being able to set a broken bone or remove a tumor from an organ. Our skill set is the ability to spot anissue, understand the application of law to a certain set of facts, reasonably predict an outcome, and in many cases prevent a lawsuit from ever taking place.
An attorney and a client both have the ability to type on a software program or to write up terms on a piece of paper. By way of example, lets say Bob Blue and Richard Red want to enter into an agreement whereby Bob will lend Richard $50,000.00. Richard takes out a piece of paper and writes the following: “I, Richard Red, hereby agree to pay Bob Blue $50,000.00 for a loan issued in my favor.” Richard Red then signs the paper. Is this an enforceable agreement? Absolutely, and it did not cost Bob or Richard one dollar. The problem is that the document is missing numerous essential terms that Bob Blue will need to bring an effective lawsuit. For instance, when was Richard to make his first payment? When and how often were payments to be made? Is Richard allowed to recover his attorney fees if Bob defaults? Are side agreements allowed to be admitted into court? Does Bob have a lien or security interest on any property owned by Richard? Is Bob allowed to accelerate the remainder of any unpaid balance or does he have to bring a new lawsuit every month? Although Bob Blue will ultimately obtain a judgment against Richard Red, he will certainly experience a large amount of collateral damage in doing so.
As you can see, the value the attorney adds is knowledge, not simply the ability to type. Most people want to have great equipment and great employees. Why not also have great legal documents that are tailor-made to protect your business interests? For more information on how Rice and Rose can protect the things most important to you, please call our office at 386.257.1222.
Posted: April 23, 2014