Many organizations, particularly nonprofits, are sometimes understandably hesitant to engage attorneys. The way some attorneys work, it seems they just bog down the wheels of progress while running up enormous bills, nitpicking over trivia, generating piles of paper, and talking in circles without providing the straightforward answers clients need to understand and manage risk and move forward to meet their business objectives.
There are, however, excellent reasons to have attorneys on your organization's team. Here are a few of our favorites.
Protect Your Interests. If you are considering a relationship with a third party, whether a landlord, a core data processing system vendor, a collection agency or a janitorial service, you can be sure their lawyer drew up the proposed contract with an eye to protecting his or her client's interest. Warranties may be disclaimed, service levels to which you are entitled may be vague, confidentiality provisions may be insufficient to meet your regulatory obligations to preserve the privacy of consumer information, or the contract may be virtually impossible to cancel even if service is poor. Meanwhile the salesperson, looking out for a commission, is encouraging you to sign right away or lose favorable pricing. By having your own lawyer review the contract before you sign, you have an opportunity to be made aware of risks you may have overlooked and negotiate for more favorable terms.
The Right Person for the Job. A lawyer has the specialized training and experience to perform legal services. Some businesses try to stretch their budgets by having risk management or internal audit staff do legal work. These individuals are valued members of your team, and we enjoy working with them and supporting their efforts to evaluate and manage risk. However, just as you need professional cleanings and checkups by a dentist in addition to a good home hygiene regimen to keep your teeth healthy, a lawyer has the skills needed to help your organization manage its legal risk most effectively.
Efficiency. We have been providing legal services to our clients for decades. We have reviewed hundreds of contracts. We have provided hundreds of forms, policies and procedures. When it comes to legal questions, we know what to look for and where to look. Instead of having your staff spend hours . . . days . . . weeks reinventing the wheel, have us do legal work so you can focus on serving your members.
Advocacy. When you retain an attorney, the attorney's job is to protect your organization's interests. We practice law for a living, but unlike vendors who are out to maximize their own profits, your attorney has an ethical and legal obligation to put your organization's interests above our own. We are on your side, looking out for you, first, last and always.
We pride ourselves on providing efficient, common-sense service with an overriding concern for sound risk management. When regulatory compliance or significant risk is involved, we take the time to get the details right. When we are asked to review and comment on a contract, our approach is dictated by the big picture risk management questions. How critical is the product or service to the client's operations? What is the financial exposure? What is the security exposure? What is the reputation risk? Recommendations are based on the answers to these questions and our knowledge, based on decades of experience, of what provisions vendors are and are not likely to change. When we are asked for help in resolving a compliance error, we evaluate legal, reputation and financial exposure to propose pragmatic, cost-effective options.