Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Free Advice

A lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade. Abraham Lincoln

My commodity is knowledge. I get paid to prevent or solve legal problems.   In fact, the majority of my time is spent sharing and using the knowledge I have and applying it to the facts on hand.  That's how we pay the mortgage, buy the groceries, and keep the lights on, etc.  In order to best use this knowledge, I need to take the time to understand your situation, ask relevant questions, and work my way through various contingencies.

Sometimes, people find this hard to understand.  They get offended because I don't like getting stopped in church or at Wally World to answer a "simple" question.  They consider it an insult when I reply that they should schedule an appointment with me.  I guess their problem is not important enough to discuss in the privacy of my office.  Apparently, though, it's ok to discuss (in public, no less) in the aisle while my ice cream is melting or the family is waiting out in the car.


“Mr Lawyer, I’ve got John Jones on the phone with a question. He says he is a client but I can’t find him in the system.”

(The name doesn't sound familiar...) “Hmm... ok, I’ll take the call.”

“This is Lawyer.”

“Good morning.  I have a quick question to ask you. Way back in 1987, my partner and I had a business and I signed…”

“Give me just a sec. What did you say your name was? I want to pull up your file so that I can take notes while you talk.”

“Oh, umm…well…I’m not actually a client, see, I, … I just have a quick question.”

“Well I can’t really give you any legal advice until you retain and I have a chance to review everything. A quick answer to a quick question is a great way to get us both in trouble. Can I have my receptionist set you up with an appointment so we have plenty of time to talk?”

“Umm…no…I don’t really need legal advice, I just got served some documents and need to know the next step. I’m not really asking for legal advice.”

“Ok…so you don’t need legal advice. You just need me to tell you what to do with a legal issue you have.”

“That’s it!”

“So you need me to advise you on a legal dilemma. Legal advice.”

(Pause) … It’s just a quick question!”

(This is getting nowhere.)  “You said you have a business, right? What kind of business do you have?”

“I paint boats.”

“Really! Maybe you can help me! I have a 28-foot cuddy cabin that needs painting.”  (I don't but he doesn't need to know that.)

“Sure, I’ll just have to see it to get you an estimate. “

“Wait, you mean you won’t paint it for free?”

“He** no, man! I don’t work for free, dude!”

“Neither do I.”

1 comment:

Did it MY way said...

Well said Mr. Lawyer. Why should you work for free?

See Ya.