By: Tim Brynteson – Published in the BizWest Book of Lists in January 2022

We normally write short essays trying to educate our readers about some particular area of law or to provide a legal perspective on some current issue.   In this essay I thought I would try to address a very common question I sometimes receive before a client decides to engage our firm or decide if they even need a lawyer. Does this situation or problem (fill in the blank) even need a lawyer?

As lawyers, we are often dealing with clients and particular problems and circumstances that arise because lawyers weren’t involved at the beginning of a business venture, or agreement or estate planning. Therefore, we can tend to be a bit jaded and believe that everyone could benefit from our services.  Some situations are a clear call for legal support such as when you are sued for something, or there is a personal injury, or in criminal prosecution.  However, there are many circumstances where the question may arise as to whether legal help from an attorney is really needed, particularly in this age of internet searches and being able to google examples of documents we might use.

Lawyers can bring a lot of benefits to various questions, problems, and planning tasks, but the main insight that an experienced lawyer can bring to the table is providing a plan for assessing the risks of what “could go wrong” and hopefully a plan for providing a road map to help address difficult issues that may arise.   When anyone is beginning a venture, a new relationship, or purchase, they are excited thinking about all the possibilities and rewards they expect when “things go right.”   Attorneys often play a valuable role, if sometimes an exasperating and expensive role, in providing advice and guidance when reviewing documents, as well as plans to protect and a plan for problems – some which may never occur, but many which are fairly likely to happen.

The next time you are pondering whether to talk to your attorney or retain a new counsel with regards to a particular endeavor or issue – and you ask yourself “is this really necessary” – think about the benefits of some counsel to plan for and protect yourself from the unexpected.

Tim Brynteson