Many new clients often focus upon the expense of hiring an attorney, but rarely appreciate the value of their investing in the legal services which are going to be rendered. Consider the example of Mary, who, having lost her job when her company downsized during the Great Recession, now intends to use her savings and remaining home equity to purchase a business. She is working with a business broker in the purchase process.
Being a good consumer, Mary wants to shop for the lowest cost legal services provider. She assumes that her business broker will include all of the necessary provisions in a business purchase agreement and can answer any questions she may have about it. So why pay an attorney’s fee ? After all, Mary reasons, the attorney will probably want to create a complicated document she would not understand, while her broker can prepare an easy to understand “standard” purchase agreement as part of earning its brokerage commission.
What Mary may not appreciate is that the true value to her in hiring an attorney comes from that attorney’s legal knowledge, skills and past experiences; and his knowing how to apply those valuable assets for Mary’s benefit. For instance, Mary may not realize that some states permit a written agreement declaring the business broker to be “transactional broker”. Under Florida law, a transactional broker must act in good faith and with honesty in fact but otherwise owes no fiduciary duty to either the buyer or seller. An experienced attorney can review her brokerage agreement and explain to Mary the many ways in which her transactional broker may not be “hers” in the way she assumes.
Similarly, an experienced attorney will discuss the transaction with Mary to understand what her expectations and concerns are and offer suggestions on how to approach satisfying each of them. He can also help her look for additional facts, based upon his past experience, which may give rise to new issues which Mary may not have considered.
So, Mary should ask herself: Can I really afford not to protect my planned investment ? What expense am I willing to accept in return for the value to me of having an experienced attorney trying to protect me from foreseeable legal issues and transactional problems? Then, the true value of the attorney’s fee easily becomes apparent.