In this blog entry, I will tell you one simple rule that is guaranteed to reduce all of your legal fees, increase your protection from liability and ensure that your affairs are in order. Actually, I already have in the title of this entry – follow through.
If you have been reading this blog for the past few months (Hi Mom!), you will have garnered all sorts of tidbits about what lawyers do and how we do it. You will understand many of the areas where we can help you do what you do better and you will have some idea of how bad things can get when they get bad.
But the one thing that we can’t do in a lot of cases is finalize the work that we have done. That part is on you. I suspect that many people feel that once they have gone to the effort of making that appointment with their lawyer and giving authorization to draft a document or to act on their behalf in some capacity, they can breathe a sign of relief.
In reality, the value of what we do often doesn’t materialize until the job is done.
For example, I usually give my estate clients my standard legal advice after they leave my office, having just delivered their Will instructions – don’t die until we get this signed! While there is an attempt at levity there, there is also a very serious point – the work that you pay for isn’t doing anyone any good until it’s done.
Unfortunately life gets in the way. Between that first visit with the lawyer and finalizing the work, things happen. You may put off an e-mail asking for your instructions until later or you may leave a finished document in your desk drawer, to be signed at some convenient time that never seems to come.
Whatever the reason, if you have retained counsel to review your business processes and make recommendations, but don’t act on them, you have wasted your money. If you have retained counsel to draft a business agreement or to address a compliance issue, and haven’t signed off on the agreement, you have wasted your money.
But most importantly, delays in finalizing legal work mean that you are not protected, or that the problem that you brought to us, remains unsolved. This is the biggest issue and the one that can ultimately lead to the greatest cost.
If you have legal work in progress that is all but finished, please follow up on it and do what it takes to finalize it. You’ll be lucky if you never know how much that might save you.