What is the Representation Tension?
The Real Costs of Representation
Traditionally, when an attorney represents a business client, that attorney’s license to practice law arguably requires her to (i) advise the client on every legal vulnerability that client has or may have, (ii) review each and every legal document the business has (think: terms and conditions forms, employment contracts, government contracts, organizational agreements, buy/sell agreements, etc.), (iii) revise all of the contracts that need revising by (iv) researching, in-depth, all of the current laws and cases that may have changed those contractual requirements/provisions.
How many hours does all of this work take? At least 20, but easily as much as 200 or more, depending on the company’s size and legal needs. If that all sounds expensive to you, it should! Most law firms charge $350 per hour or more!
Okay, but where’s the “Tension?”
The attorney representing the business has to do all of this work. If she doesn’t, she risks her license to practice law. If the business client is sued shortly after the attorney is engaged to represent the company and the company loses the lawsuit because one of their agreements was poorly written, it may be considered by a judge or jury to be the attorney’s fault for allowing the business to have such a faulty agreement. This is true even if the attorney only represented the business for a few weeks before the lawsuit was filed.
Given that not-so-uncommon scenario, it is in the attorney’s best interest to go ahead and do all of the work listed earlier, regardless of the cost to the client, all 200+ hours of it should (at least in theory) be done immediately.
So, you have the attorney on one hand trying hard to get all of that work done while “properly representing” the client, and the client, on the other hand, getting burned by all of the billable hours the attorney is piling on (think tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees). Now that’s Tension!
How can I Avoid the Representation Tension?
The Beauty of Proposals
I love going to auto mechanic’s shops because they listen to the issue I’m having with the auto, evaluate my car, and get me a quote. Quotes are great! They’re all flat fees. If there’s something in the quote that I can wait on, I have that choice. Sure, my tires need to be replaced soon, but I’ve probably got another 6 months on them, and I’m willing to take that risk. The mechanic has done their due diligence by advising me of the risk, and it’s up to me (and my budgetary constraints) whether I want to replace the tires right away or wait a little longer.
Sparks Law Proposals are made in the same way: We tell you about issues we spot that need your attention. If it’s something you would like to wait on, that’s not a problem. By notifying you of your company’s legal vulnerabilities, we have done our due diligence as the attorney-firm representing you. This keeps you, the business owner, in total control at all times of your legal budget, just like every other aspect of your business. Put simply, we don’t start the work unless you give us the go-ahead.
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