I am sure you have seen the advertisements; you know, for those legal document review and preparation companies. Some of those legal service companies have recently added a feature where you can speak with an attorney and get legal advice, or subscribe to a legal advice plan. In an instant, with zippity speed, you can seemingly have all of your legal questions answered or documents prepared without leaving the comfort of your couch, or interrupting your busy day.
I can see why it sounds very appealing. But to be honest, those commercials and the services and products they offer, drive me crazy. Here’s a little disclaimer: I have never used one of those services or even called to inquire about the specifics. All I want to do is give you my spin on why shopping local is better.
Usually we hear the phrase “shop local” around the holidays. The idea is to patronize or give your business to a local independant shop over a large “big box” chain or corporate conglomerate. There are many reasons people might want to “shop local”. For example: Shop local to support a family owned business; shop local to support the use of locally grown or organic ingredients, shop local because local usually means small and hence a more personal service experience, or finally, shop local in an effort to stimulate your local economy. These are all great reasons to shop local. And I suggest to you that the same reasons apply when you are “shopping” for legal advice or for a lawyer to prepare legal documents.
A local lawyer is often from the area where he or she practices. The local lawyer might know some of the same people you know, might use the same car repair shop or have children in the local schools. A local lawyer will be familiar with the procedures of the local courthouse and have a good working relationship with other local lawyers; i.e., your potential adversary.
Much like locally grown “ingredients”, a local lawyer will usually use local experts and consultants to assist with your case. Those local experts and consultants will hopefully have a good working relationship with the lawyer and be able to offer competitive rates and fees which will serve to benefit you.
A local lawyer will undoubtedly provide a personal service experience. He or she lives and works in the area. The lawyer’s reputation for quality personal service is the bedrock for continued growth of that lawyer’s practice. What is quality personal service? To me, it means my client has my attention; my client’s phone call or email will be returned and I often answer my phone directly; my client will speak with me for follow up questions – not the next lawyer in the queue; and I will have explained to my client what to expect or the reasons for my professional legal opinions. I do those things for two reasons; (1) it is the right thing to do, and (2) I hope that my satisfied client will refer others. In other words, as a local lawyer, I have skin in the game.
Finally, retaining a local lawyer will stimulate your local economy because that lawyer lives and works in the area, will use the same car repair shop, support the local schools and youth sports teams and rely upon local experts and consultants, who in turn, will use the same car repair shop, support local youth sports… you get the idea.
Some people are stimulated by the cost factor, thinking that a legal service or document preparation company will be less expensive. Well, often those legal service plans offered by online or telephone legal service companies are monthly service plans for which you pay a monthly contract price, even if you are not actively using the service. Does that sound like a bargain? Most local lawyers bill you for services performed either on an hourly basis, contingency or flat fee arrangement. When you meet with and retain a local lawyer you will have the opportunity to ask questions about the fee structure and sometimes negotiate a fee arrangement that works for you. Again, it comes down to creating a professional relationship with a lawyer that suits your personal needs.
Put a face to the name and create a professional relationship with someone you will be proud to call “your lawyer”. I can assure you, we local lawyers are proud to service our friends, neighbors and local entrepreneurs just like you.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, call the office at 609-904-3020. I look forward to working with you.