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Keep Your Money

July 29, 2003 - 2:11 p.m.

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July 11, 2004
The Next Day
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True Confessions: My Life as a Female Impersonator
March 15, 2004
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February 29, 2004



I'm not a big fan of paying lawyers lots of money. I bet that no one reading this really likes to pay lawyers money. And honestly, I don't always like taking money to provide legal services.

So read and learn.

  1. When you first start having a problem with legal implications, the time to seek advice is when you first start having the problem. Shelling out $150.00 for a consultation now could save you thousands of dollars in legal defense later.

  2. Before you hire a lawyer to represent you, learn all you can about the legal problem first. This is important for two reasons. One, your lawyer is going to rely upon you to fill him in on the fact. He doesn't have personal, first-hand knowledge of your case; you do. Second, if you take a look at your legal problem you may figure out that you don't really have any legal ground to stand on at all. For example, if you're being sued for owing someone money, take a look at why that person claims you owe the money. If you spend fifteen minutes going over it yourself, and figure out that you do in fact owe the money, then you don't need to pay a lawyer to add it up for you and tell you that you owe the money.

  3. Read. Read your contracts. Read legal documents that are served on you. Admittedly, some of this stuff is crowded in legal mumbo-jumbo that makes it difficult to understand. But sometimes, it's not so difficult to understand. For example, when your lawyer asks you if your lease provides that the landlord can collect legal fees from you for collecting past due rent, and the first page of your lease says in plain English that the landlord may get legal fees from you for collecting past due rent, you should be able to definitely say "yes." You can save a few thousand dollars paying your attorney to look at the first page of your lease and saying, "Right here it is."

  4. When your lawyer asks you, "Are you sure you want to pay me x dollars to represent you in this case?" take that question seriously. Lawyers don't lightly turn down money.

I have too many cases now in which someone comes to me after being sued, claiming that they didn't owe the money, then paid my fee (well, usually paid my fee), just so I could double-check the information they gave me and then have to tell them, "You actually owe this money." And then of course they get upset at me for wasting their money on me. I spend more time reconciling checks with bills than practing law.

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