Who Needs A Lawyer?

February 18th, 2013 by JBWK

Most people are willing to pay for basic types of insurance: auto, health, life, disability, etc. They figure that the relatively small upfront cost will be dwarfed by the expected benefit in the event they have an accident, get sick, or die.

On the other hand, many small business owners opt to be a jack of all trades when starting off. Some stay that way. They can’t understand paying a lawyer for something they can handle on their own or download from a website. But paying a lawyer up front is something of an insurance policy: it will pay off down the road.

Plenty of employers pull miscellaneous template handbooks, policy manuals, employment contracts, and non-competes together and get by. Often it’s not a problem. Until it is. And then it’s too late. You could lose a key employee to a competitor if you can’t enforce his non-compete. Your employment contract could unwittingly provide deferred compensation subject to stiff penalties on an IRS audit. Your FMLA leave policies may be out of date and could cause you to violate the law. The problem is you won’t know until it’s already done, and that relatively small cost to do it right from the beginning is now engulfed by the million-dollar lawsuit you’re facing.

An employer and an employee each learned that lesson the hard way this week. In two separate cases, the Virginia Court of Appeals completely dismissed their appeals for not following the correct rules in filing their appeal. They didn’t see the need for a lawyer, and now any shot they had on appeal is gone. Instead of paying a lawyer to help with their appeals, they opted to go it alone, and paid for it dearly.

In highly technical areas of the law, it will pay dividends to have a specialist who can competently guide you through the process.

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