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Over the years I have used attorneys for a variety of needs. When I started a hedge fund the initial deposit was $25,000 and I was happy to pay it. We laugh at lawyer jokes and sometimes lawyers deserve the bad rap they get, but most of the time attorneys are a powerful part of your team preventing expensive problems before they happen. There is a reason why they are called counselors.
I encourage landlords and business owners to keep a relationship with an attorney. Buying and selling a property requires an attorney in my opinion and landlord/tenant issues can be reduced when a lawyer is consulted before actions are taken. There are also the surprise attorney needs. Who do you call when arrested for a DUI? (The first person who says Ghostbusters will be escorted out the door.) You don’t plan on certain events in life; they just land in your lap. Business owners and landlords have greater legal needs, but the average guy on the street finds himself in need of professional help a time or two in life as well (wills, probate, trusts, sale of property, et cetera).
Doctors, attorneys, and accountants know all kinds of stuff (a technical term only used inside the industry) people need at the most important junctures in life. Finding a doctor is as simple as a call to your health insurance provider. Most people see an accountant on a regular basis, while the legal eagle is only required periodically. Worse, even if you know a lawyer, your need may be in an area he does not practice. The logical place to ask for a referral is from your accountant. The contacts an accountant has usually means he has a list of attorneys available to share in your time of need.
DIY and the Wealthy Accountant Roll-A-Dex
Like magic, my client list is now over 50% outside my state. The number of clients living more than 200 miles from the office doorstep has climbed steadily for more than a decade. The last year caused a major spike in out-of-state clients until fewer than half my clients actually walk through the door anymore. It is strange to see my parking lot with eight or so cars in it and no clients in the building, only employees busting tail to keep up with the work coming in electronically (what I call “over the transom” because many are sent without prior agreement).
Clients from out-of-state and people who do their own tax work sometimes need an attorney, too. I am happy to oblige when they ask my help. As more clients live further away I have fewer recommendations, until now. Sure, I have a full-time attorney on staff in my office; sure, I have a legal group with a retainer on file; sure, I lave legal teams in most states beckoning back to my hedge fund days. All this does not matter if I don’t have a qualified local attorney to help you in your particular need.
Most people do not need a legal team on speed dial with a retainer on deposit. What you need is an attorney to meet your specific needs. I have the perfect solution.
LegalMatch is a referral service for all your legal needs. The best part is the referral service is free. Each attorney will have their own set of fees, but you can get a comfortable number of lawyers to review before engaging at no cost. LegalMatch covers all areas of legal practice I could think of. What I like best about LegalMatch is their extensive help libraries to help you understand your legal situation better regardless if you have an attorney.
Here are some areas of law covered by LegalMatch:
- Landlord/Tenant: The rental business is a great opportunity for passive income. Even with a property manager you may find yourself in a situation where you want a lawyer you vetted on your team. You may own real estate in different parts of the country and having a legal contact in each locality is a powerful advantage.
- Business Law: Business owners have multiple issues to consider. Starting a business may require entity setup (LLC, LLP, corporation, et cetera). If you decide it is best to organize your business in a state other than your domicile for legal or tax needs you will need a registered agent. Many attorneys fill the registered agent needs if they are in the practice of entity creation. Example: My hedge fund was organized in Delaware. The laws of Delaware were superior in multiple ways over Wisconsin, my home state. I found the right legal team to organize the optimum entity solutions. Each situation is different. LegalMatch can help connect you with the right law firm for you.
- Marriage/Divorce: Readers of this blog tend to have a frugal mindset and divorce at a significantly lower rate than the national average. However, the hyper-savers/investors who frequent here also know with a massive nest egg certain precautions are necessary before you get married. A pre-nuptial agreement might be in order if one spouse has significantly more assets than the other.
- Estate: Most readers here need an estate lawyer. Building a large net worth requires a few simple legal procedures to protect your hard-earned gains. Wills and probate are a start; trusts are a major consideration for tax reduction and asset protection. Serious legacy planning starts in an estate attorney’s office. Your needs may be limited to consultation only all the way to full-blown trusts used to determine who gets what and when. You can protect a surviving spouse and children, even from multiple marriages. Estate laws are complex, especially when you are married in one state and move to another. The transient nature of our society makes a competent estate lawyer an absolute must.
- Bankruptcy: It can happen to the best of us. The Wealthy Accountant does not believe there is such a thing as a DIY bankruptcy.
- Personal Injury: You don’t plan on an auto accident or other injury, but it happens. You need an attorney when the medical bills start pouring in and the injury is the result of negligence. An initial consultation with an attorney can help you determine the correct course of action.
- Criminal: The United States is the most incarcerated society in the history of the human race, per capita and per volume. The next closest country to the U.S. is South Africa at half the U.S. rate. Either we are a failed society or the cops are looking for job security. Guilty or not, a criminal attorney is worth their weight in gold. I have seen some crazy stuff in my office over the years. LegalMatch is a perfect place to find an aggressive and competent criminal attorney fast.
- Employment, Liability, Immigration, and Intellectual Property: I have covered the more common attorney request I receive, including the areas of legal practice in this bullet point. There are areas of law not covered in this post, but probably covered by LegalMatch.
How Do I Get Started?
To get the most out of this free service you will need to accurately communicate your legal situation. It might be as simple as: I was arrested for DUI. HELP! Or it could be involved, such as in a landlord/tenant dispute or a business transaction.
You can start your attorney search with this link or by clicking one of the banners for LegalMatch on this page. Enter the geographic area you need a lawyer. For example: If you live in New York, but have a rental property in Florida where the legal issue exists, you enter the Florida ZIP code or city and then choose the legal category. Provide a detailed account of the legal issue. You should receive a response back from lawyers within a few hours in most cases. Remember, there is no cost for the referral, but the law firms will have their normal fees. As a disclosure: The Wealthy Accountant may receive referral compensation from LegalMatch, but never from the law firm.
It might be a good idea (if you own a business or investment property) to review attorneys for future reference. Since the service is free it is nice to have a relationship with a law firm before disaster strikes.
Feel free to share your legal experiences in the comments below.