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I’ve been speaking with quite a few entrepreneurs lately about employment law issues, and I’ve been surprised to learn how few of them have ever worked with an employment lawyer. Their impression seems to be that, once you engage a lawyer, they come in, rack up thousands of dollars in legal fees and do not really add a lot of value. For an entrepreneur, engaging the services of a provider who charges fees which do not reflect the corresponding value to the business just isn’t an option. I know because we’re entrepreneurs too.
So today, I was reflecting on the assistance that I had provided to our clients over the last week and I was struck by the nature of the matters I had been called about: how different the assistance was, depending on the needs of the individual client. To give you an idea of what I mean, here’s a sampling of the kinds of calls I have taken in the last week:
- Could I review an executive employment agreement which the client had prepared themselves and provide feedback? (no problem)
- Could I help another client ghost-write some sensitive language for an email to an employee on disability? (absolutely)
- Could I prepare an email, outlining the legal risks of a proposed course of action, so that our contact could use it to persuade management to change direction? (I did)
- For a client who had fired an employee and received a lawyer’s “demand” letter, could I just let her know whether I thought her proposed response sounded reasonable? (it did)
- And from someone I met speaking at a recent conference, would I be able to talk to one of his clients about a problem he was having with a belligerent manager? (of course)
Sometimes I think people assume that engaging lawyers is always about getting caught up in a web of legal entanglements at extraordinary cost. Each of the above interactions cost the client very little in overall legal fees, but the value was significant. Each of the clients was provided with at least one of the following: information to take back to management; support for their own course of action; and/or simple peace of mind. A lawyer does not have to be the supplier that you’re afraid to call – the right one can be a trusted partner for your business.