When to call a lawyer

Two weeks ago our Blog Entry dealt with when to use a law firm in Small Claims Court, but the question doesn’t just come up with matters that are $ 10 000.00 or less.


In the ordinary course of your business you may run into a situation where you would be better off (and spend less money on legal fees in the long run) if you called a lawyer, rather than dealing with the situation yourself.


A good general rule is that if you are contacted by a law firm representing someone other than your company, you should consult a lawyer. 


This rule applies to both positive and negative situations – if a lawyer contacts you regarding a client who is interested in entering into a trade relationship with you or if the lawyer represents a former employee seeking compensation.


No doubt you’re wondering why you should call if a positive event is happening, well, colour me pessimistic, but deals can go sour and while people enter into deals with the best of intentions, it is important to protect yourself, just in case things go wrong.  It is also much less expensive to have a lawyer review documentation before entering into a  transaction, rather than paying a litigation lawyer to fix the problems it after the fact.


With respect to calls or letters from lawyers threatening to sue you, this is very dangerous territory to handle without a lawyer: you likely do not know the law, nor what can be used against you as evidence: it is better to simply take a name and number and contact your lawyer to ensure you are protected.


A common situation that many employers believe they can handle on their own is termination of employees and this is simply not the case.  Employment law is changing regularly and your obligations to your employees may be different than you believe them to be.  A Wrongful Dismissal Law Suit that goes to the conclusion of trial will cost at least $ 15 000.00 in legal fees.  Obtaining legal advice prior to dismissal will usually be less than $ 1 000.00.  The savings on money and the headache of a law suit are worth consulting your lawyer.


Another common problem that many business owners have and sometimes don’t even realize they have is protecting their ability to take back product that is not paid for under a conditional sales agreement.  A lawyer can guide you through what your agreement must contain in order to be able to register it and take priority over any other creditors – an important consideration given the economy these days, you don’t want your goods going to your customer’s bank instead of back to you if they are not paid for.


So while the old joke claims that a  thousand lawyers at the bottom of the sea is a  “good start”,  before you put us there, you may want to consider how we can help you save money and protect the business you have worked hard to create.


Inga B. Andriessen