When You Have to Go to Court A Guide for Dealing with Business and Personal Legal Matters Al Walsh Walsh Enterprises Business & Financial Advisors Huntington Beach, California USA http://www.awalsh.us [email_address] (714) 465-2749
<ul><li>Many moons ago, I was involved in a messy divorce. I married my high school sweetheart, and nine years later we realized we had nothing in common. The divorce was messy because she left me with the mortgage and all of the bills for a year before I could get her to court and settle up. </li></ul><ul><li>My lawyer was a practical guy, and he gave me a bit of good advice. Basically he told me that I could prepare the case & pull everything together myself, and just leave him to deal with the points of law in court – or I could have his assistant pull it together and pay him a small fortune at his ungodly billing rate. </li></ul><ul><li>I took his advice and pulled the case together myself, with a few legal pointers from him. The lesson I learned from that lawyer has served me well throughout my business career. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t just sit back and let the lawyer do it all. </li></ul>
<ul><li>It pays to get directly involved. Much of what’s involved in putting a case together is common sense. Why pay a lawyer to have his assistant do what you can do yourself? I reached the point in my career where I hardly had to deal with the lawyer at all until it came time to actually go to court. My focus was always on making the lawyer’s job a snap. I’ve been involved in hundreds of actions, and have received glowing reviews from the lawyers for making their jobs easy. I got so good at it that I could anticipate what the lawyer would need, and had the answers before they raised the questions. You can too. </li></ul><ul><li>If you do business, sooner or later you’ll wind up in court. Someone won’t pay a bill, or you’ll get involved in a patent fight, or some other nonsense. It happens to the best of us. When it does, use your own head and your own internal resources to build the case. Leave the fine points of law to the lawyer. </li></ul>
<ul><li>One of my employers was a person who “ knew he knew everything”. He was a head-strong person who often made emotional decisions. One of those bad decisions landed him in court. He was wrong, but early and careful handling of the case could have mitigated the damages quite a bit. There’s a good chance it could have been settled out of court. Instead, he waited until the last minute and expected his lawyer to pull off a miracle. His staff was forbidden to get involved. He thumbed his nose at the plaintiff, and they got really angry. The court’s decision went badly. Don’t be like him. </li></ul><ul><li>One legal action I was involved in was a $multi-million claim against the Department of Defense on behalf of an aerospace firm. On a multi-year contract, the government had done several dumb things that had cost the company a lot of money. The management at the time did nothing, but new management decided to fight it. I was brought in as a consultant to work with two other guys on building a case. We did interviews, pulled together documentation, and wrote up the case brief. Only then did we go see a lawyer. That fight ended up going clear to the Secretary of Defense, but we won; turning the contract from a loser to a winner. The legal fees came to only a few $thousand. When we first brought the brief and documentation to the lawyer, he could hardly wait to take the case. As he put it; “we made it ironclad”. All we did was apply common sense and some “elbow grease”. </li></ul>
<ul><li>So take a lesson from that divorce lawyer of mine. Get involved, and pull the case together yourself. If you’re too stretched, bring in someone like me to do it. It will still be a heck of a lot cheaper than having the lawyer and his staff do it all at their unholy billing rate. </li></ul><ul><li>Some lawyers will share this info with you. Others will acknowledge it if asked. Most will keep their mouths shut and go for the money. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the lawyer like a finely-honed instrument – not like a club. Your bill will be much smaller. </li></ul><ul><li>You might even get better case results. After all, lawyers specialize in law – they don’t always understand business. If you team up, you’ll cover all angles. Most cases I’ve been in were won more on points of business than points of law. </li></ul>
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