Do Lawyers Have Any Value Anymore?

Posted: May 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Reflections on Law Practice | No Comments »

There are a number of erudite commentators who are predicting the demise of the legal profession in light of the commoditization and outsourcing trends. It’s all part of eliminating inefficiencies in the supply chain. So do lawyers provide anything of value, or has their shelf-life just expired? Well, I think lawyers still have a part to play, but of course I’m biased; it’s what I do.

But here are a few examples of why I think we may still have value:

A client consulted me because he paid an online entity formation service to set up an LLC. Like most business folks, he assumed that when he got a nice certificate mailed to him, the job was done. He operated as an LLC for about 18 months, until someone pointed out that all he had was a certificate. So 18 months later, he paid me to complete the legal process of transferring assets to the LLC, becoming a member, licensing the business and so forth. None of this is difficult, stuff, but it is important to the client and has consequences if not done correctly. The result? The client ended up paying double what he should have, which he could have saved on the front-end.

Or again, there was the client who bought some assets only to find that they were subject to multiple tax liens and that he was being held responsible for them as a successor owner (and we’re talking significant money here). An ounce of prevention….
And then there was the one about the client who purchased real estate with a large down-payment. Unfortunately, the property was subject to multiple liens and he couldn’t get his money back.

Or the client who borrowed money from investors to fund a real estate LLC, only to discover that he was violating securities rules by not giving the investors adequate information.

The list goes on.

And in none of these cases are the clients being dumb. This is the stuff of everyday life, not big corporations, and most often, your average consumer or small business simply isn’t aware of what’s out there, and because each case is unique, it’s tough to Google a solution even if you did know which question to ask.

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