I want to thank my colleague, Scott K. Behrendt, Esq., for this week's legal portion.
Whether you are a business owner, executive, corporate in-house counsel, investor, consumer, or otherwise, the importance of getting the most mileage -- and value -- out of the attorney you have selected to represent you in a legal matter cannot be overstated. Here are some basic concepts to keep in mind to help ensure that you, as the client, are receiving the highest level of service and attention from your attorney throughout the course of the legal engagement.
Is Your Attorney Available and Responsive?
Is your attorney accessible to you at almost all times by email or phone? Is your attorney quick to respond to your questions and concerns? If the answer to either of these questions is "No," then you may not be receiving the level of service that you should expect from your attorney. The era of 9-to-5 workdays for most professionals, including attorneys, is long over and as is common in today's legal disputes and business transactions, pressing issues that must be addressed can arise at any time. The need for your attorney to be available to you when called upon, and to provide prompt and thorough responses to your inquiries, is essential to maximizing value from your attorney.
Do You Have Your Attorney's Undivided Attention?
Does your attorney give you 100% of their attention, or do you sometimes feel like just another name and number waiting in line for service? Whether you are an executive of a Fortune 500 company, or an individual consumer or business person, your attorney should always treat you as their most important client and treat your legal matter as their most important case. Anything short of that is not acceptable. Unfortunately, attorneys at large law firms servicing large companies and cases sometimes are unable, or unwilling, to provide the personalized attention you may expect. On the other hand, very small law firms and sole practitioners may be understaffed and overburdened to the point where they can only give you their minimal, and fleeting, attention. Ensuring that your attorney and their law firm are staffed and sized to provide the flexibility and personalized attention of a midsize firm, while maintaining the resources and expertise needed to effectively handle your legal needs, can be key to achieving your legal goals and obtaining the legal service you deserve.
Is Your Attorney Proactive?
Is your attorney proactive in analyzing the issues and challenges, and proposing strategies and solutions, concerning your case? Or, do you find that sometimes you are the one with a finger on the pulse of the case, anticipating and preparing for likely developments, and suggesting courses of action, while your attorney simply reacts to events as they arise? After all, if your attorney is not actively engaged and focused on the details, potential pitfalls, and road to resolution of your legal matter, they will be unprepared when the time comes to address those issues and likely outflanked by a more proactive opposing attorney, all to the detriment of your case and interests.
Are You Receiving Value for Your Investment?
Competent legal services are not inexpensive. Whether you have retained an attorney on behalf of a company, or as an individual, you should always expect to receive value commensurate with your investment in those legal services. As a client, carefully review attorney invoices to ensure that you are satisfied that the tasks performed were necessary, the time spent by the attorney on those tasks was reasonable, and the invoices themselves are accurate. If you have any questions about such matters, never hesitate to contact your attorney to discuss the same. And, if you are not satisfied with the performance of your attorney, the results (or lack thereof) achieved by your attorney, or the cost of your attorney in relation to the services provided, do not hesitate to take your business elsewhere.
In sum, if your attorney is not available and responsive, not giving their undivided attention, not proactive, not providing value for your investment, or otherwise not meeting your expectations, then you, as the client, are not getting the most mileage out of your attorney.
Now for the Opening Day memory.
Tommy John should make the Hall of Fame on the surgery bearing his name alone. But then when you throw in the 288 wins--the 7th highest total ever by a left-handed pitcher--that he is not in yet is insane. (Sorry, I have a strong opinion on this one.) Tommy played for 26 years and was one of the aces for the White Sox, Dodgers and Yankees. He actually played for the Yankees twice, as well as the A's and Angels. He began his career with the Cleveland Indians. As the first Tommy John surgery recipient in 1974, Tommy was forced to miss the entire 1975 season (he was on the Dodgers at the time). How did he handle that setback? Merely by winning the National League Comeback Player of the Year in 1976. Tommy never seemed to throw very hard; he succeeded on craftiness. I have the pleasure of knowing Tommy, consider him a friend, and in addition to being a Hall of Fame type pitcher, he is also a Hall of Fame type guy.
Now for his Opening Day memories.
"My second opener was with the White Sox in 1965. I had roomed all spring with Ron Hansen, our shortstop. Ron's wife was due to deliver their first baby. We opened in Baltimore, which is Ronnie's hometown. We got off the plane in Baltimore and Ron's wife Dale met him. The next day, we were in the clubhouse, and Ron walked in all bleary eyed about 20 minutes before game time - his wife had given birth that morning. So he came in and played shortstop. We had a one run lead in the ninth, and the Orioles put a couple of guys on so they had me get up and warm up. Al Lopez our manager walked out to the mound and gave the signal for the left hander. It was my first game with the White Sox. I came in and had to pitch to Boog Powell. Fortunately for me I struck him out, and I got a save. Hoyt Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher were our closers, but they had struggled with their knuckleballs because of the cold, so I got the call. After the game, Sargent Shriver came into the locker room and I got a chance to meet him. It was quite an Opening day - my roommate had his first child, I got a save, and I met Sargent Shriver.
"In 1981, I pitched two Openers for the Yankees- the regular season opener and the first game after the strike. Both were against the Rangers, and we won both."
Thanks Tommy. See you all in two weeks. Richie