Category Archives: Law

Involve a Business Lawyer

If you have a small business or are planning to start one, then building a relationship with a small business attorney can be one of the best things you can do. Not only will a lawyer guide you into setting up your small business correctly, but will help guide you through all the different aspects of owning a small business. There are a lot of legal aspects to business that an owner may not have considered when starting one, so having access to a lawyer can have a lot of benefits.

Here are some common legal situations that a small business attorney will help with:

  • Starting your business properly. A lawyer will probably suggest you incorporate right off the bat as this gives you personal protection since the business becomes a legal entity in the eyes of the law.
  • Dealing with employees. Hiring and firing as well as paying them for their work. This includes taxes and even employment contracts
  • Dealing with independent contractors instead of employees in the workplace
  • How to decide whether to lease buildings and equipment or purchase. There are legal and strategic reasons for each and a business lawyer will be able to give you the options
  • Preparing sales, purchase and employment contracts.
  • How to protect your business name and trademarks. This can be important if you have a product that becomes popular
  • Dealing with on-line commerce and how to ensure your business is doing it properly
  • Resolving disputes in business. This can be a contractual issue, a product issue or even a liability issue that a lawyer will be best equipped to deal with for you
  • How to set up your business to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit or other legal issue
  • Making sure all your bases are covered if you’re buying a business, dealing with becoming a franchise or even selling your business.

Business ownership is complicated enough without having to attend to all the details alone. Business attorneys know all the in’s and out’s of the legal system and understand the traps and pitfalls that small business owners have to deal with. Consulting with one during all phases of your business may seem like an unnecessary expense, but like having insurance, it’s an expense that is well worth it. Having the comfort in knowing you’re personally protected, that your business is protected and that you’re running your business properly is well worth every penny.

Property Tax Lawyers

A lot many people buy permanent property for themselves in the form of land or houses. These owners of land or houses have to pay a tax for their property, which is called as the property tax. The property on which the tax is calculated has to be fully owned by the taxpayers and has to be appraised for its value in order to calculate the corresponding property tax is calculated.

Many disputes and controversies occur when there are discrepancies in the property appraisals or issues regarding the ownership and tax liability. Property tax lawyers resolve such issues of clients and represent them in cases where legal proceedings are being initiated against them. Property tax lawyers typically possess a lot of experience in this field and can easily guide their clients when the appraisal methodology adopted is arbitrary or discriminatory. This saves taxpayers from paying excess tax that is calculated based on a wrong appraisal.

Property tax lawyers guide their clients in issues related to tax exemptions, rebates, tenancy, lease agreements, inheritance and ownership. Disputes can arise between joint owners of a property in terms of the division of property tax liability. Property tax lawyers can help in such situations by applying their knowledge of all the various laws pertaining to inheritance of property and ownership among spouses, family members and even of non-US citizens. These lawyers negotiate disputes on behalf of their clients, with family members, joint property owners or even a third party agency.

Property lawyers have clients of varying needs such as residential clients, industrial companies, supermarket chain companies, office complexes, corporate buildings and even small commercial stores. Many senior citizens and new property owners are not aware of the various tax rebates they are eligible for. A property tax lawyer can provide this information and assist clients with rebate and property tax claims.

How to Become a Lawyer

Have you ever thought about how to become a lawyer? Well, your dream isn’t that difficult to turn into reality. In fact, all you need to do is follow the five steps listed in this guide to establish your name as a successful lawyer.

1) Start Preparing from High School

If you are a high school student who wants to how know how to become a lawyer, you’re in luck; though law schools won’t go through your high school transcript, you can still prepare for your future career. You can start to:

  • Develop skills such as writing logically, critically analyzing problems, and working with different people
  • Take advanced courses in humanities
  • Enroll in Latin and philosophy classes
  • Participate in extracurricular activities such as the debate team, student government and mock trial team
  • Apply for internship at the office of a lawyer

2) Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

The second step in this how to become a lawyer guide is obtaining your bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution. You should make sure to work hard to keep you GPA high; a low or average GPA isn’t acceptable in law schools. In addition, you should make sure to keep your relationship with your professors friendly because you will need their letter of recommendation later on.

3) Register and Study for the Law School Admission Test

During your junior year, you should register and sit for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The LSAT is a half-day standardized test that is required for admission to all American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools. The test will measure your reading and verbal skills to assess whether or not you would be ready for this career. However, make sure to enroll in a preparatory course before sitting for the exam for the LSAT can help you gain admission in a law school even if your GPA isn’t that high.

4) Enroll in Law School

Once you pass the LSAT and finish your college education, you should get ready to specialize in your field. So, the fourth step in this how to become a lawyer guide is enrolling in the best law schools around. Consider Yale, Harvard, Stanford and other top universities that offer a law program. During your years in law school, make sure to:

  • Qualify for law review
  • Choose marketable subjects such as intellectual-property law
  • Create professional contacts
  • Master all the skills you would need in your profession

You may choose to apply for the bar without a degree, i.e. you can become a lawyer in some states with four years of study at an unaccredited law school or four years of studying law in a law office program. However, both of these options won’t get you as much success as a law school degree.

5) Pass the Bar Association Exams

You will have to sit for the exams set by ABA, but you should inquire about those beforehand. Some states may require that you undergo a character and fitness review. Aside from that, make sure to prepare well for these difficult exams, or else you may have to sit for them one more time later.

Let Your Lawyer Ask the Questions

Many times when someone goes to see a lawyer for the first time, they are unsure how to proceed with relaying their story as it relates to the case. You will want your lawyer to be as informed as possible, so that they can represent you well; however, you must also be careful what information you provide. So, above all, the most important guideline you should follow when speaking to your lawyer is to allow them to ask the questions. Let the consultation run like an interview.

You should know in advance that whatever information you provide to your lawyer, you have to stick with those same facts in court. If your story differs in court from what you have told your lawyer, you could possibly be committing perjury. If your lawyer notices this, they will have to tell the judge and this can damage your case

So when you see your lawyer for that first time consultation, don’t be the first to start talking or you may fall into the trap of explaining your story to the point where you begin rambling. This is where a lot of people make mistakes and give too much information. Instead, let the lawyer guide the conversation. Keep your answers short and too the point.

There may be times you will want to find out something from your lawyer, but do not want to reveal that you are guilty of what you are being accused of. In this case, consider starting off the question as a hypothetical question.  “Let’s say hypothetically, that I did this or that”. This will save you from actually admitting to anything and the lawyer can still answer your question. Following this fundamental rule will also save you from wasting time explaining your story. Since lawyers can charge quite a bit for their time and services, you don’t need to waste your own money explaining your story either.

New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer Guide

Medical malpractice is when a medical professional fails to act as a reasonably and professionally. If a malpractice causes injury or illness to a patient, the aggrieved party can file a legal claim to seek compensation for their losses and sufferings.

Medical malpractice could be due to some errors, mistakes made by a hospital, doctor, and other medical professionals. It may also involve below-standard care and failure to perform a necessary action in order to prevent causing harm to the patient. A malpractice can include failure to diagnose, prescription errors, mis-diagnosis, surgical errors, birth injuries, nursing home abuse, etc.

Medical mistakes are emerging as a national epidemic. According to Harvard research, nearly 98,000 people die each year in the United States as a result of medical malpractice. Thousands more are injured annually and suffer illness as a result of medical errors. Although the incidence rate of malpractice is high, only two percent of injured patients seek compensation through a lawsuit.

A party which caused injury to a patient as a result of medical negligence or wrongdoing may generally be held liable for medical malpractice. Hospital staff like physicians, anesthesiologists, surgeons, emergency care staff, nurses, private hospitals, and government institutions may be held responsible for patient’s injuries that are caused as a result of malpractice.

In a medical malpractice case there are three things which needs be proven. Firstly, the injured party must show that the defendant (against whom the case is filed) failed to act in accordance with the established standards of medical practice. This may require an expert medical testimony confirming that the defendant committed malpractice. Next, it must be proved that the patient’s injury or suffering was caused due to negligence or wrongdoing .Lastly, the damages caused by the medical authority needs to be shown.

An Accident Lawyers Guide

Initially, your accident lawyer will investigate whether you have suffered injury as a result of the negligence or carelessness of someone else. They will then explain their view on the merits of your claim, and talk to you about the compensation you may receive. Following this, your lawyer will arrange a medical assessment and evaluate your financial losses.

Compensation varies, of course, depending on the severity of your injuries and your individual circumstances, but it may include loss of earnings (past and future), as well as any expenses you have incurred as a result of your injury. You may also be entitled to damages for pain, suffering and effects on your everyday life. In serious cases, such as those involving head or spinal injuries, you could be able to get compensation for your past and future care and any equipment you may need. If you have been seriously injured, arrangements can be made for rehabilitation and physiotherapy treatment to aid your recovery.

Again, depending on your injuries, most straightforward accident compensation claims are included within 12-18 months, but it may take longer. The vast majority of cases do not proceed to a final hearing in court, and an experienced accident lawyer will always try to settle the case by negotiation with your opponent first.

Funding Advice

You may have the benefit of “Before the Event” legal expenses insurance which will cover the cost of your claim. Your solicitor will also look at any insurance policies that you have and whether or not you should get in contact with them about your claim. In most cases, legal expenses insurers are content to let a solicitor of your choice act for you under the policy.

Alternatively your solicitor can arrange for a “No Win, No Fee” or Conditional Fee Agreement. They can also arrange legal fees insurance at no cost to you, so that if your claim is unsuccessful you do not have to be concerned about paying any legal costs.

Receiving Compensation

In certain circumstances, the court can award an “interim payment” during the course of your claim and pay a proportion of the likely compensation award early. An interim payment is normally handed out with specific instructions, such as it must be spent on equipment or care. If the award is large, the court will also decide whether the compensation will be paid in one lump sum or in installments, known as periodical payments.

Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic Injuries involve damage to the brain or spinal cord. More than a million people in the UK suffer a head injury each year and, for an unfortunate few, the result is devastating. Injuries to the spinal cord are thankfully quite rare, however when they happen there effects are far-reaching and the monetary consequences for the injured person and their family are high.

If you have received an injury such as this, then you should ensure that the solicitor that you are dealing with specialises in head and spinal injury cases. They will be able to provide the injured person and their family with support and address rehabilitation and welfare issues as early as possible. Where cases involve substantial injuries they may arrange for a member of the family to act of behalf of the injured person through the Court of Protection.

Head and spinal injury claims are inevitably complex and awards of damages can be significant, not least because the injured person may require care for the rest of his or her life. However whilst money cannot always fully compensate for the injury but it can help people to cope with the consequences, by providing funds for carers or necessary changes to living arrangements to enable the injured person to achieve a level of independence.

Because of the complexity surrounding the issues, it is important to instruct a specialist lawyer, in order to maximise your chances of success. Accident claims are often complex and it is always important to get specific legal advice from an experienced accident lawyer. In particular, time limits apply so make sure you take advice as soon as possible.

Injury Lawyers’ Guide

In every accident case brain injuries are a critical injury. Anyone could be hit on his skull forcefully by something resulting in the brain tissue damage and hence leading to a brain injury. Nonetheless how inescapable it will be, the victim might have serious complications in recuperating after such a grave injury. The energy level by which the injury originates, the impact on the brain relies upon that particular energy. The injury could transpire in a single section of the brain or harm the performance of the entire brain. Anybody who has met with an accident therefore may face difficulty in recovering.

An injury could take place as a consequence of numerous reasons; the prominent reason is car crashes, slip and fall injury within business or government premises. The cause of injury might be any nevertheless a person has to recognize the reason and impact of the mishap. The brain injuries are categorized into 2 explicit varieties, which comprise of Traumatic brain injury that involves symptoms for example concussion, bumps a result of direct strikes or impact to the brain or shaking the head strenuously and Acquired brain injury which is caused by cancers, toxins, anoxia (low oxygen) or diseases which are degenerative like Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, brain injuries can be triggered by strangulation, choking, literally sinking, and injury to the spinal cord, alcohol and drug use. The type and extent of injury to the brain can cause distinct effects for any sufferer. Major symptoms may vary from blurry eyesight, dizziness, humming in the ears, a state of shock. The subsequent repercussions may be life-long and might develop into critical pain when not taken seriously. The difficulties which come about are extreme headaches, persistent vomiting, fits, distorted speech, loss of awareness and shaking.

You need to know the effect of such an injury is more than just the real impact, the mental pressure the members of the family bear is very annoying in itself. Unable to go to job and secure a steady salary, contribute to a healthy life and incapable of performing daily errands by him can be a serious setback in these circumstances. The medical charges are hitting an all time high and the damages should be settled for the amount for that time-span. The main cause of getting a skilled injury lawyer is more critical than previously to identify your legal rights as a casualty.

Avoid fake lawyers and search for respected attorneys in your place and capitalize on their expertise. In case the injury has arisen owing to neglect of any third party, like, neglectful physicians, car/truck drivers, landlords, drug producers, for instance that individual may perhaps be held at fault by the court and compensation might be issued favoring injured person. An insurance policy can’t think about all the distress and hence an attorney may manage your welfare in fighting the court case.

Identity Theft Lawyers Guide

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” Plato.

Identity theft, one of the fastest growing crimes in America, is a federal crime under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. Bad people or con men usually find ways to get around this law. Identity fraud occurs when a con artist illegitimately uses your identity to make a frightening number of financial and personal transactions in your name, leaving you – the ID theft victim, responsible for what might turn out to be a mind-boggling turmoil in your life. Last year ID fraud crimes topped the list of complaints reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the governmental agency addressing the problem of identity fraud, for the fourth consecutive year.

The FTC estimates that ten million people are victims of ID theft each year. Perhaps the only people minting money are the conmen and identity theft lawyers! Determining the exact scope and financial impact of id theft on people and businesses is difficult. According to a survey conducted by Privacy Right Clearing Group, victims spend from $50 to $2000 on costs related to ID theft, not including identity theft lawyers’ fees. Since ID fraud is a complex crime you may not be able to clear your name as fast as you would like. Bureaucratic financial institutions move slowly, partly to protect you. But if ID theft recovery procedures fail to resolve the problem, you should get in touch with identity theft lawyers. Credit issuers and reporting agencies are sometimes slow in responding to complaints from consumers. The threat of lawsuits can provide some impetus.

If you believe you have been a victim of identity fraud and all steps to restore your name and credit fail, contact top identity theft lawyers in your area immediately, to minimize the damage to your personal and financial accounts, as well as your credit report and reputation. Thanks to the nature of the crime, most identity thieves are never found. So, in order to clear your name, you patiently need to work with the law enforcement agencies and identity theft lawyers, assisting them when you can. Remember, justice moves slowly, and ultimately you will be proven on the side of right, and your life can go return to normal. This is usually a slow process, but it is a necessary evil we all live with.

Contingency Collection Lawyer Guide

I am not a lawyer, I am a judgment referral expert (Judgment Broker). This article is based on my California opinions and observations about retaining a contingency collection lawyer to recover a civil money judgment. Every state has different laws, and this article is not legal advice.

The word contingency means uncertainty, and implies the assumption of a risk. Most lawyers charge by the hour, because that eliminates most of their risk of not being paid for their work, and for any incurred expenses.

A contingency collection lawyer charges some or all of their fees as a percentage of a successful collection. They usually take judgments only when the debtor appears to have assets, and the risks of not being able to recover the judgment appears to be minimal and reasonable.

Enforcing a judgment always involves a financial risk. The time and expenses incurred may not result in any recovered money, and sometimes one can spend more money than one may recover. For this reason, most lawyers will only recover a judgment if they are paid a retainer upfront, and then on an hourly basis.

Of course, almost everyone wants their judgment recovered on a pure contingency basis, meaning the lawyer will advance their time and expenses, and not charge anything until the judgment is recovered. In a pure contingency retainer agreement, the lawyer gets their expenses repaid to them first, before splitting the recovered money with their judgment creditor client.

The smaller (and riskier) the available judgment debtor’s assets appear to be, the less likely a lawyer will recovery a judgment on a pure contingency basis.

Many things are negotiable, and depends on the details of the situation. Some judgments might be strong enough that a contingency collection lawyer might recover the judgment on a pure contingency retainer agreement. On other judgments, the lawyer may require their client to pay some or all of the expenses, and the lawyer’s time is usually reimbursed on a contingency basis.

Some (most) judgments do not have enough available debtor assets for the judgment collection attempt to be performed on any kind of contingency basis. In this case, one must pay a retainer, and by the hour, and pay all expenses – or find a regular (non-lawyer) contingency judgment enforcer.

Another option is to try to sell your judgment for cash upfront, however if lawyers will not recover a judgment on a contingency basis, the judgment is probably worth very little cash up-front.

Contingency rates also vary, depending on the strength of the debtor’s assets. A large judgment against a rich debtor might have a contingency rate of 30% for the lawyer and 70% to the judgment creditor. A riskier-looking judgment might be 70% to the lawyer and 30% to the judgment creditor.

On the same judgment, one lawyer might absorb all expenses, and charge 50% on a contingency basis, while another might charge only 25%, and require their client to pay a retainer upfront, and some or all expenses as they are incurred.

There are some that believe that an attorney cannot advance any expenses on behalf of their clients. I am not a lawyer, but based upon my friendship with hundreds of contingency collection lawyers, I believe that is not correct. Anything a lawyer and their client agrees to in the lawyer’s retainer agreement goes.

If an attorney was not able to advance fees, a personal injury attorney could not do business. Nevada’s rules of professional conduct, Rule 1.8 covers this, and other states probably have a similar rules.

Lawyers usually cannot provide financial assistance to their clients, but there is a specific exception for an attorney advancing court costs and other expenses of litigation when the payment of legal fees are contingent on the outcome of the case or recovery of a money judgment. Again, I am not a lawyer.

Recovering a judgment always depends on the debtor. If there are no current or future (or discoverable assets) of the debtor, not even the best contingency lawyer (or most anyone else) could ever recover money from your debtor.

A Lawyers Guide to Turning Down

I’m a lawyer. I really am. I have been for 26 plus years. I’ve always been able to attract clients and must have done a competent job for most of them since I’ve had a lot of repeat business. This doesn’t make me an expert on business development, as we call it. Honestly, I’m not sure how best to go about that. Moreover, the legal world is chock full of advice on building your practice, marketing and generating new business. It’s doubtful that I have much to add to that vast sea of information, or misinformation, as the case may be.

I once worked in a law firm that was concerned to the point of obsession about generating new business. “Origination” was the term they used. If one “originated” enough business, he or she became a “rainmaker,” the most valuable of all lawyers, regardless of legal acumen or lack thereof. The rules regarding origination credit were Byzantine and ever-changing. For example, you might think you deserved credit for a new client, only to find out that aged partner had represented an employee of the company on a DUI many years ago. Thus, he was entitled to the credit. After all, he had planted the seed decades ago. As one of my partners once noted: “The Origination rules aren’t written down. That’s understandable since they change every day.”

Although I have created my share of personal marketing plans, I claim no expertise. I’ve thought both outside and inside the box. I’ve been proactive. I’ve networked. I’ve schmoozed and small-talked. I’ve even found time to practice quite a bit of law. None of this sets me apart from other lawyers.

The one area where I believe I have something to contribute is in turning down business or knowing when existing business is turning sour. For a long time, I wasn’t good at this, much to my chagrin. Now, though, I know the red flags that warn me to stay far away from a potential client or to at least understand my situation. I’ll share a few of those with you.

1. PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FALL

At least that’s what it says somewhere in the Bible. It doesn’t really apply here, but I like saying it. Any the who, it goes without saying that we don’t want to represent folks who will refuse to pay us. Now, this is different from a client who suddenly can’t pay. I’ve represent several clients–individuals and companies–who sunk into dire finances during my representation of them. This is a professional risk. It’s happened to some of my favorite clients.

The ones I’m talking about are the ones who won’t pay. Here’s a bad sign: You are the third lawyer they’ve hired on a particular matter. This is a person who doesn’t play well with others. Just as important, this person has had bad relationships with other lawyers. Why? It probably has something to do with money. Ask this potential client if he owes the other lawyers money. If the answer is “yes,” run! A client that will stiff one lawyer will do it to you. At least ask for an upfront deposit against your fees. If they aren’t willing to invest in their case, you shouldn’t either.

Related to this is the client who doesn’t want to discuss your bills. Oh, he or she paid you regularly for a while, then slowed a bit and finally stopped paying. You ask about it and are told that the client will be caught up soon. Don’t worry. When you hear that, worry. A lot.

Lawyers are an odd breed. We don’t like to push our clients about bills. Perhaps we are embarrassed by the amounts we bill. Maybe it’s just an uncomfortable topic. Regardless, when you don’t confront, it gets worse. It’s Business 101 that the older a bill gets, the less likely it is to ever get paid.

The question, of course, is: When is enough enough? There’s no way to state of rule of thumb here. Large law firms are able to carry large receivables for a long time. Small firms like mine can’t. Here is an exchange which should end your representation immediately (I’ve had some variation of this multiple times):

Lawyer: Carl, we need to talk about your bills. We haven’t been paid in six months, and we need to get this caught up.

Client: I know. I know. We have cash flow problems, but we’re working on it. I don’t know when we’ll be able to get caught up, but we’re good for it.

Lawyer: I appreciate that, but we can’t commit substantial time and expense without some assurance of getting paid.

Client: What do you mean? Are just going to quit on me?

Lawyer: I don’t want to do that, but I’ll have to if we can’t get paid.

Client: You’ve insulted me. If you don’t want to work on the case, that’s fine…

See what we have here? You–a business person–have addressed the most basic need of your business–income. Your client is insulted by the prospect of having to pay you. You must run from this client with all haste. If you don’t, don’t expect to ever get paid again.

2. DON’T REPRESENT CATS

Of course, it’s well-known that there are no cat herds. Cats don’t do that. They just scatter about. Some of your clients are like that. They aren’t dogs. They don’t have a leader. They are cats, scurrying about with no one in charge. These are not good clients.

The Cat Client comes in various forms–corporations, families, virtually any collective of people. No one is in charge. The point person, your “client contact,” as we call it, seems to be the boss until real decisions have to be made. Then, no one is in charge. In a corporation, you may hear from the President, the CFO, the in-house attorney or the janitor. They all have differing views on the goals to be achieved. If you need a question answered quickly, good luck.

I’ve represented several churches in my career. Each was a fine organization headed by fine people, but no one was in charge. The minister works for the church at the pleasure of the Elders or whatever group is supposed to be in charge. That group has no leader. They make decisions as a collective. Getting direction is almost impossible. You’ll end up frustrated, and so will they.

Families are even more difficult. Most families are like mine and have no structure whatsoever. No one is in charge, and they like it like that.

Here’s what you do. At the first sign of cat-like behavior, set some ground rules. A contact person is a good start. Get a list of folks who need to be updated on your case. You might have to paper or email them into submission, but it’s worth it. Better to keep too many in the loop than not enough.

3. IT’S ABOUT THE MONEY

“This isn’t about the money. It’s the principle.” These words send a chill up the spine of all experienced attorneys. It is, after all, about the money–at least most of the time. The sooner your client comes to that realization, the better off you both will be.

Unless it’s a criminal case or, possibly, a divorce, it’s all about the money. If you sue someone, you want money. If you’ve been sued, you don’t want to pay money. In fact, you may not even want to pay your own lawyer.

Let’s say your client is in a $500 dispute. A good lawyer (or even a bad one who wants to get paid) explains that the client will pay the lawyer far more than $500. If the client responds that he or she would rather pay the lawyer, you must pause, tamp down your greed and repeat your cautionary warning. Slowly and clearly.

If your client persists, go forward but be realistic. At some point, your client will realize that it is, in fact, about the money after all. When they owe you more than they do the adversary or more than they can possibly recover, they’ll know it’s about the money. At that point, you may well be the adversary.

4. THEY DON’T REALLY WANT A LAWYER

Given the general public’s disdain for the legal profession, it isn’t surprising that a lot of people–maybe most–don’t want to hire a lawyer. This is especially true of trial lawyers. There is a subtle but important difference between needing one and wanting one.

Good clients want to hire you. They want your advice and expertise. Some folks–thankfully a small percentage–hire you only because they must. They do not recognize you as having any specialized knowledge or skill. Indeed, these clients are prevented from doing your job only because of their dearth of education and lack of professional credentials. Nevertheless, they know how to do your job better than you do.

They’ll plot strategy for you. They know the best witnesses. They even know the questions you should ask during depositions and trials. During trial, they will hand you helpful notes such as “Ask him if he’s lying!” They will disagree with you about the law. You will calmly explain a basic concept such as the abolition of Debtor’s Prison, and they will contend that it is unfair. You will explain that a certain position is not legally sound, and your client will disagree based upon nothing more than his or her idea of what the law should be.

This client will not be pleased with your work. Monday Morning Quarterbacks rarely are. If you are prepared for this, by all means go forth. Such clients are best represented once. The good news is that their displeasure with you likely means that they will move on to new lawyer anyway (See Item No. 1 above).

I suppose other professions deal with similar issues. Perhaps cancer patients demand that their oncologists provide certain medications or ask to assist in surgery. In that case, I’m sure the doctor will continue to prescribe what is best. Lawyers must do the same. Keep advising even if your advice is ignored. Besides, isn’t it just a wee bit satisfying to get to say “I told you so!”?

5. BE A CRIMINAL LAWYER, NOT A LAWYER CRIMINAL

Criminals are entitled to lawyers just like everyone else. That’s one of the great things about America. Even if you are guilty, the government still has to prove its case against you.

Where a lawyer gets off base is when he or she becomes the criminal. Hey, if your client breaks the law, it’s your job to help. By that, I mean help defend your client, not help your client break the law. It’s real simple: If your client is doing something illegal, strongly advise against it, and don’t participate in it.

It’s bad when your client goes to prison. It’s worse when you go, too.

6. YOU WANT A WHAT?

Sometimes, people aren’t looking for a lawyer. They want a “bulldog” or “pit bull.” Someone once told me that he was looking for “Someone who will get down in the gutter and fight to the death. Win at all costs!” Beware of folks like this. Why?

First, if your self-image is that of an animal or you imagine yourself wallowing in the gutter, you may need therapy. Second, this type of talk is often code for: “I want an unethical and, if necessary, dishonest lawyer.” Third, they want you to engage in all manner of harassing shenanigans that will likely make their fees grow exponentially. Then, you run into Item Nos. 1 and 3 above.

The best lawyers I’ve known are polite and professional. They zealously represent their client like human beings, not animals. They don’t harangue their opponents or needlessly fight about every detail.

If you need a lawyer, I’m your man. If you need a dog, go to the Humane Society.

7. DEVELOP A NUT ALLERGY

I can’t emphasize this enough. It is, after all, the most important point of all. Nuts need and want lawyers just like regular people. In fact, many nuts require legal representation far more than normal people. This is because they are frequently embroiled in controversies in which only nutty people are involved. Identifying nuts, however, is most difficult.

Here’s one sign: There’s a conspiracy. A large group of people (often the Government) have conspired against your client. These conspiracies can involve the judiciary and all other levels of government. Remember: If there really is a conspiracy–which does happen sometimes, it will usually be pretty easy to crack. If it is hidden under layers of impenetrable silence, consider this very real possibility: It isn’t true.

Another sign: Vast amounts of paper. I have had cases involving hundreds of thousands of documents. Believe it or not, that’s not uncommon. What is uncommon is a client who presents you with piles of irrelevant paper. Often, these papers are carried around in their pockets or cars. You don’t know what they mean. Neither does your client. But they are important.

A final sign: The case no one will take. This is a potential client who describes to you an impossibly lucrative case which no lawyer will take. These cases involve millions of dollars. There’s usually a conspiracy and a mountain of irrelevant paperwork associated with the case. Here are few real life examples that I’ve either heard about or experienced myself:

The Spindletop Oil Fortune: This is a claim that someone is an heir to the Spindletop Oil fortune in Texas. The person has proof through some dizzying array of paperwork. Judges have been throwing these cases out of court for years. Here’s a practice pointer: This person is not an heir.

The DeGroot Patents: These are a series of 19th Century land patents from the Commonwealth of Kentucky under which someone claims vast mineral resources. You are likely to find that they are junior patents, inferior to the entire rest of the world’s claims.

Forced Homosexuality: This was a guy who sued Eastern Airlines (and many others) for being involved in a nationwide conspiracy to force him into homosexuality.

Nigerians: These folks really need lawyers, usually to help transfer funds stolen from some government enterprise. If you fall for this one, you deserve it.