Providing Legal Solutions That Give You Peace Of Mind

Why Have a Lawyer, Part 2

On Behalf of | May 24, 2024 | Firm News

When I was around 12, long before I became a business attorney in Tulsa, I went to a thanksgiving lunch with my mom at my aunt’s house. My parents were divorced by then. I received a telephone call from my father who was frantic. He was vacuuming the carpet in our computer room when he bumped the tray that held the keyboard and “mouser” (his words). He said the screen changed and he thought he broke the monitor. I had a chuckle to myself as I realized what had happened. He did not break the monitor. He deactivated the screen saver. I took the time and explained to him that there was nothing wrong with what he did. The computer simply thought he wanted to use it and switched the screen saver off.

I use this humorous example as I once had a conversation with a client who was limited on resources. He elected to resolve his case on his own for financial reasons. I gave him some suggestions so he would have some legal guidance on what to do. Thankfully, he got his case settled. He then called me again, very concerned, as the other side had an attorney. The other attorney drafted a very standard document we call a “Release of all Claims.” This document is a very standard document that says that in exchange for a sum of money, the client agrees to forever forgive whatever controversy is at the center of the dispute.

The client was very concerned about some of the language in the Release. He asked me to review three specific provisions with him. I want to share those with you now.

The first concern he had was on listing him individually as opposed to his LLC. He thought this would pierce the corporate veil and allow the other side to sue him. Now granted, I as a business attorney Tulsa get why he was concerned. He’s a very intelligent man, but not a lawyer. The same day this happened, I went to get my oil changed. The technician told me the manufacturer of my vehicle recommended rotating the tires every 5,000 miles. I told him to do this if that is what the dealer recommended. I don’t design cars nor do I work them. I am going to trust the folks who built the car, not the guy who only knows how to drive it. The same is true with this client. He did not understand due to a lack of familiarity with legal proceedings that the document was for the other attorney to protect his clients from my client from filing a lawsuit. Once I clarified this, he was no longer concerned with that portion of the document.

The second concern centered around a liquidated damages provision. These are very common. A liquidated damages provision is a provision to an agreement that says that, in the event of a breach, the parties agree up front as to the amounts in dispute regardless of the breach. There was some language that the other lawyer inserted in an initial draft but later removed at the request of my client. My client was looking at the original draft. I reviewed the amended draft and learned that the lawyer, per his word, removed the language.

The final concern was over what I call a “play-nice-in-the-sandbox” provision. These provisions say that if there are any further steps not specified in the release that need to be taken to effectuate the meaning of the agreement, the parties agree to take those steps. For example, if a company receives money as the result of a settlement agreement, they will have to issue its W9 for tax purposes for the other side. That is not specified in the Release. That’s why they have these play-nice provisions to cover instances such as this.

At the conclusion of the conversation, my client was very thankful for my advice and told me so repeatedly. I told him I wasn’t sure that I did much as I just spoke to him about some basic legal terms. He told me I gave him considerable comfort about the settlement process and helped put his mind at ease.

I believe that peace of mind is the greatest asset we have to offer our clients. Over 90% of my job is just listening. When this client called me, he was a bit panicky. He called me earlier this morning, but I was unable to get back to him. He then called me this afternoon. I sensed it was an emergency and answered. I intended to call him back before the end of the day, but he got a hold of me first. I talked to him for maybe 15 minutes. Most of that time was me listening about his fears. He would express his concern, then tell me the fear that followed the concern. I would acknowledge that I received the information, and then explain why his fear was understandable as he is a non-lawyer, but tell him that his fear would not happen. And then I will explain why the fear would not happen. This all came from legal experience in the industry.

If you do not have a business attorney in Tulsa, get one. Despite popular belief, some of us do genuinely care about you and your legal issue. We are happy and ready to help. At RC Law Group, we are not like some of these firms whose only goal is financial prosperity. We want to help you and your business excel and succeed. Most of all, we want to provide you with a peace of mind by listening to your legal concerns, your feared outcomes, and then hopefully tell you the only thing you really have to fear is fear itself. Most of the concerns folks have with lawyers and legal documents are based on exceptionally rare horror stories rather than likely, real-life legal scenarios.