Saturday, January 9, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Decrease Costs in Using a Business Attorney by Guest Contributor Jake ("The Snake") Flounder, III

Introduction by John L. Watkins

The arrival of a New Year always seems to bring -- in addition to New Year’s resolutions -- a plethora of top ten lists. As many of you know, our blog has often shared our experiences in how important it is to involve your business attorney or business litigation attorney early on in the process, and to work closely with your attorney through completion.

Apparently, at least one of our readers has a different view, and, in the interest of providing equal time to differing views, and because I have nothing better to post, we offer the following post authored by guest contributor Jake (“The Snake”) Flounder, III on his Top Ten Ways to Decrease Costs in Using a Business Attorney.

Jake has run a number of businesses, including “TunaFrutti,” which offered franchises for combination sushi and ice cream shops, “Jake’s Arctic Golf Adventures,” which offered golf tours to Greenland, Iceland and Siberia, and “Ski Pine Mountain,” a resort which sought to bring alpine skiing adventures middle Georgia. Jake is no longer involved in these enterprises and is now available to bring his Elvis tribute show to your next birthday or holiday party, or other event. I should mention that Jake’s opinions are not necessarily shared by me, the firm, or the firm’s other attorneys. So now, for a different perspective, on to Jake:

10. Do it yourself whenever possible. Just as the case with wiring or running the gas lines in your home, you can save a lot of money with attorneys by doing it yourself. It’s this simple: If you don’t call them, they can’t charge you. And forget that “universal rule” stuff about how it’s always more expensive to clean up a home made legal issue on the back end than using a lawyer to do it right on the front end: That’s all just lawyer talk to drive up fees.

9. Have your assistant check the Internet for a form. Let’s face it, the Internet saves money. I did all of my shopping on eBay this year, and it turned out great, well except for my wife and mom not receiving their presents. Face it, legal services are commodities. The law from state to state is the same, and different circumstances never make a difference. In short, lawyers and legal services in general are all the same. One is as good as another, and a form on the Internet is bound to be good. So long as the form contains sufficient use of words and phrases such as “whereas,” “party of the first part,” and “hereinafterbelow,” you can be sure it is high quality and suitable for any legal needs. Forget those horror stories lawyers tell about Internet forms. That’s just marketing.

8. Don’t pay your lawyer’s bill on time. Never pay your lawyer’s bill on time. First, even though they have staff and rent to pay, they don’t need the money. Second, if you don’t pay them on time, they will be more eager to do the next assignment for you in the hope you will finally pay your first bill. Think about your own experience: Don’t you always treat your worst customers with special attention?

7. If you have to use one, call at the last minute. If you’ve followed the steps above, it is very possible you will never need a business lawyer, well, unless all that marketing stuff they say is true. But we know that is all bunk and I digress. However, if you simply cannot avoid using an attorney, be sure to call at the absolute last possible moment. 5:00 p.m. on Friday is good, and 5:45 p.m. is even better. Face it, most of these guys charge by the hour, and, if you don’t give them any time, they can’t charge you as much. Don’t believe all that junk they tell you about needing to structure and tailor the document for your needs, or to gather the facts about that lawsuit that needs to be answered on Monday. And if you can make a lawyer work through the weekend or miss his spouse’s birthday party or his kid’s little league game, you can be sure you will never be forgotten.

6. Demand that your work take priority over every other client. This goes hand in hand with the “call at the last minute” strategy. If you call at the last minute, you are going to have to make it clear that your work needs to be done before anyone else’s. You know what they say: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and, as the late-paying, last minute, overbearing client, you are definitely going to be the squeaky wheel.

5. Cut the deal yourself and then tell the attorney to write it up. A lot of lawyers want to tell you they can help you structure and negotiate the deal to your company’s advantage. Even if a lawyer has handled many similar transactions, don’t ever believe that. Remember, you are the client and you know best. Besides, lawyers charge you for all that stuff. So just cut the deal yourself, and have them write it up with some of their legal mumbo jumbo. Not that it matters anyway.

4. Don’t let your attorney’s advice stand in the way of getting the deal done. Lawyers can be deal killers. Don’t let this happen to you. Ignore their comments about the merits of the deal. Don’t believe it when they tell you there is a problem with title or a claim against the company you are buying that you didn't know about. Don’t let them talk about buying assets when the other side is selling stock and you want to buy. Just tell the lawyer to shut up and finish the paperwork.

3. Don’t tell your attorney all the facts. This is a subtle tip, but it is very important. Lawyers always want to know all the facts. They say this will help them advise you and represent you in connection with the deal or the lawsuit. Don’t let a lawyer lead you down this path! First, if you tell them everything, it will take more time and, with lawyers, time is money. Second, there are certain things that should just be left unsaid. Talking about them could lead the lawyer to ask questions, and that takes money. And those untold facts never come back to haunt you, anyway, at least so far as I know.

2. Don’t return calls and provide input. Lawyers always want more information. If you return their calls and provide input, it just costs money. Lawyers claim they are professionals. Well, if they are professionals, make them prove it. They should know how to do this without bothering you or knowing what you want or are trying to achieve.

1. Lie. Sometimes, despite all your efforts and even after following the nine prior tips, lawyers will ask you a question that you just do not like or want to answer. This is particularly true if you are in litigation and the other side is asking pesky questions. My advice: Just say whatever you think the most helpful answer should be. It doesn't need to be the truth. Chances are, no one will ever find out. Sure, I did this in the TunaFrutti franchisee litigation and somehow the other side found out, which led to something called a “default judgment.” But that doesn’t mean my advice is wrong.

Note and Disclaimer: This post is a parody and Jake is not a real person. If you did not realize this until reading the preceding sentence, you probably need more help than even a great business attorney can provide.


  1. Unfortunately, clients may do some of these things too often.

    Cients who do these things do not think their attorneys are adding value and do not view their attorneys as trusted advisors.

    Doug Park

  2. Truly one of the funniest "tongue-in-cheek" commentaries I have seen - who says we lawyers don't have a sense of humor?

    Linda E. Cummings, Attorney at Law

  3. Yikes! I hope I never get a client like that... :)

  4. Yikes! I hope I never get a client like this... :)

  5. Well done. I can honestly (now that is rich) I have run into numbers 1 through 10 with clients and it is not a pretty picture.