I would like to thank my colleague Bruce Dizenfeld for this week's legal portion.
Although it is a good idea to engage an attorney as early as possible once you have an idea for a contract, venture or have a claim or controversy, that does not mean that you should actually turn to your lawyer with all of your questions. As a practical matter, your attorney is likely one of your most expensive advisors and should be used sparingly and only when the issue or action requires their specific skills.
The second question addressed in my chapter in the recently published The Book on Business from A to Z-The 260 Most Important Answers You Need is:
When should I look for advice from a professional other than an attorney?
Your goal should be to use your consultants and counselors to their highest and best use. You are likely best served speaking with legal counsel only after having initial conversations on your questions with whatever other advisors you might typically rely upon. Although your legal counsel may have a solid accounting, tax, finance, insurance or industry background, they will: (i) not be as qualified or focused on any one of these subjects as those advisors you may already have in these areas (ii) charge attorney rates for advice given on non-legal issues for which they may have no special expertise or experience, and (iii) be addressing a topic for which you will not be asking the attorney to take ultimate ownership.
Your accountants, insurance agents, financial advisors, business consultants probably have more specific knowledge about your own business or conflict, and may also have some special industry experience that they can use to advise you regarding what may be the custom and practice within the industry for a particular situation. This may be all you need. However, all of these advisors have experience interacting with lawyers, so let them help you prepare to get the most out of your legal dollars.
Now for the Opening Day memory.
Wes Parker was most known during his 9 year career, all with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as being a slick fielding first baseman. Wes won the National League Gold Glove award at first base every year from 1967 to 1972 (when he retired), and was elected in 2007 to Major League Baseball's all time Gold Glove team. In fact, he is the only member of that team not to be in the Hall of Fame. He also was a decent hitter with a .267 career average. In 1970, which he discusses below, he hit .319, drove in 111 runs despite hitting only 10 home runs, and led the league with 47 doubles. He was a member of the Dodgers 1965 World Championship squad, and may be the only player ever to appear on an episode of "The Brady Bunch." Fittingly for my purposes, he played Greg Brady's teacher and promised Greg two tickets to Opening Day if he got an "A" on his next test. Wes was kind enough to share his Opening Day memories with me by letter on "Brooklyn National League Baseball Club" stationery.
"I remember every opening day, all nine of them, but the one that really sticks in my mind is 1970. We had a good team coming out of spring training. We had done well the year before, too, still in contention in September with a young club. We were upbeat and cautiously optimistic about our chances of winning after the horrible seasons of 1967 and 1968 without Sandy Koufax and Maury Wills. We opened at home against Cincinnati. They had made a switch at shortstop from Woody Woodward to Dave Concepcion and that concerned me but I thought if we could beat them we would be well on our way to a terrific season, a winning season. I also knew that I was primed for my best year ever, that I was ready to bust out with the bat, but we had to beat the Reds, who the year before showed they were developing a very good team. We didn't beat them. Gary Nolan shut us out on opening night. Jim McGlothlin beat us the next night and Wayne Simpson, a rookie, shut us out the night after that. Three games at home to start the season and three losses! The season was essentially over after those three games, and we had gone 17-8 in spring training, our best record ever in Los Angeles! We finished second, 14 1/2 games behind the Reds. Wayne Simpson went 14-3 to start the year with the best winning percentage in the league, then hurt his arm and pitched below .500 five more years before leaving baseball. But the damage had been done. It was the best pitching I ever saw in a three game series. I told Sparky Anderson afterward and he agreed. We set all kinds of offensive records that year, most doubles, most triples, highest team batting average, and still we got killed. I went hitless in the three games and still went on to have my best season ever, hitting .319. It was the most dominating performance by three pitchers I ever saw, and the most demoralizing."