Author: Donna Chesteen, Esq.
I like clients who are smart. I like clients who have done their homework. Sometimes, however, a client can know just enough about the law to be dangerous. The language of law is complicated. Bylaws are very different from an operating agreement. Independent contractors are very different from employees. You understand your business model but, until you communicate it to your attorney, she doesn’t. Leading her down the wrong path can cost you a lot of grief, time, and money.
We live in a world of seemingly limitless sources of information. And, everyone has that one friend who is fountain of knowledge and experience. He’s the successful guy who has built a great business and he is your idol. So, of course, if he tells you need to hire a lawyer to draft bylaws or an independent contractor agreement, you believe him and rush out to do just that. The problem is that his situation may be different from yours. His company may have been formed as a corporation and, therefore, bylaws are appropriate. But, what if your business is organized as an LLC? Do you need bylaws? The answer is no. A similar situation can exist depending on the nature of his workers and yours. There are strict guidelines that must be followed for your workers to be classified as independent contractors. Your workers may actually be considered employees—and that is a whole different ball game.
As attorneys, we try to determine our client’s needs and serve them appropriately but sometimes when someone comes to us with very clear direction, we can’t clearly ascertain their goals. If we draft a contract and then it comes to light that you need a completely different contract, you may resent the lawyer because she has to charge you to write the correct agreement—after you have already paid for the wrong one. Don’t put yourself or your attorney in that situation.
Don’t forget that attorneys are also referred to as counselors at law or legal counsel. This “counsel” part of our role is the main thing that distinguishes us from on-line legal services. We should be more than just contract-generating robots. When you seek out an attorney’s services, tell them what you are trying to achieve or the problem you are trying to solve. Don’t tell them the specific agreements you think you need. Based on our knowledge and experience, we can help you determine what you need to do to achieve your goals and save you a lot of grief, time, and money.
Tell me your problems. I will be happy to help.