You can pay me now,…,

,…,or pay me later.

Nowhere does the saying from that old Fram oil filter commercial come up more often than in my line of work – lawyering. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t see glaring examples of rectification efforts that would have been averted by some precautionary expenditure.

Yeah, I know, lawyers have this checkered reputation for soaking people for the smallest thing – many, many don’t, but it’s undeniable that some are opportunistic bottom-feeders. But that makes it a question of being a careful shopper for legal services, just like you might be for any other product or service. (A note of caution: Shopping for the cheapest price only is a shortsighted method of being cost conscious. In general, you do get what you pay for.)

Your best bet in locating a legal advisor is to start with referrals from your friends and trusted associates who have employed someone for a similar problem or service. Everyone thinks their own lawyer is great, but if all you’ve ever needed is real estate conveyancing help, who knows how much help that person would be with a criminal charge or a complicated commercial lease?

Secondly, you should get a sense of the person themselves. Can you talk to them? Do they listen carefully? In that regard, you can’t do yourself any more good than to figure out a way to describe your problem succinctly. (Imagine how much patience you’d have with someone taking an hour to give you the basics of a problem – for free?) Don’t settle on the first person you talk to just to “get it over with”.

Once you’ve selected your advisor, DON’T “nickel and dime” him or her at every opportunity. Weirdly enough, the best way to get a break on your bill is not to mention it.

Finally, keep this in mind: You’ll probably be less than thrilled about paying anything as a precaution. But keep in mind that other saying about ‘prevention’ and ‘cure’- it’s ounces versus pounds.

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