Monday, September 3, 2012
"No Brainers" rarely are
A couple weeks ago, I was asked why would anyone need to know how to do their own research? Why stress over creating a legal document when someone else can do it for you? He ended each point with the statement, "...to me, it's a no brainer." While it may seem that having someone else do your work is a "no brainer," the thing that I have learned is that when you absolutely, positively have to have something done - the only person you can rely on is yourself. Let me elucidate with some real world examples.
The other day, a middle-aged couple came into our library. Seems they had an attorney who was supposed to be representing them in a foreclosure action (i.e. the bank was taking their house). Seems they gave their attorney over $25,000 and their attorney never even bothered to file the complaint. $25,000!!! Now homeless and $25,000 poorer, they had had it up to here with all the legal shenanigans. When they finally met up with their friendly neighborhood Law Librarian (i.e. me), I calmly walked them over to Legal Malpractice (West) and also suggested they take a look at BNA Lawyer's Manual on Professional Conduct (ABA) and Selected Standards on Professional Responsibility (West). In no time, they were blissfully plotting their attack against their former attorney.
Need another example? There is a law firm that advertises on television and radio saying they will fight for you. As it turns out, this law firm is really great when it comes to settlements. If, however, a case can't be settled out of court, this particular law firm doesn't seem to know what to do.
Such was the case of a young lady who came into our library. Her claim was that she had been "mistreated" by the local police and had hired this particular law firm to represent her. For almost two years the firm stammered around, never returned phone calls, and basically blew her off. Bottom line, they couldn't get a settlement and shortly after her emotions hit the boiling point, she walked into our law library. In less time than it took to tell you about this woman's story, I gingerly walked her over to Police Civil Liability (Lexis) and Police Misconduct (West) and she was off an running with her lawsuit against the city of her choice.
To me, the "no brainer" is that only by doing your own work will you know what's going on. If you have a legal issue that is important to you, find the time to work with your friendly neighborhood county Law Librarian before you hire anyone because we're here to help you understand what you're up against (and hopefully prevent you from being taken to the cleaners).