Keep calm, do you really need to hire an attorney?

This is my first blog and I want to open a platform to discuss a very touchy subject. I know that I will catch a lot of flack from attorneys from what I will say, but they know that I am telling the truth. I will not bash lawyers because I do feel that they are important in our society. I have the utmost respect and admiration for them because anyone who puts themselves on the line to incur thousands of dollars in student loan debt and graduate only to pay thousands of dollars in Bar Association dues, union dues, and high insurance. Whew, no wonder they charge an arm and a leg for services. Can you really blame them? Look at the incurred cost that they absorb, well, they have to pass these costs off to someone and that someone is you. I have been working as a paralegal for over 20 years. I have worked in immigration law, bankruptcy law (creditor and debtor), real estate law, and products liability litigation. I have been fortunate enough to work for some of the top firms in New York, Atlanta, and Dallas. Many lawyers whom I have worked closely with have always found the time and patience to teach me everything that they know. As they should since paralegals complete 90% of the attorney's workload. I can toot my own horn as my career references speak for themselves. My idol growing up was Claire Huxtable from the Cosby show. Her character is definitely the reason why I got into the law field in the first place. I could have become a lawyer, but the lawyers I worked for always seemed stressed and although it is a respectful profession, lawyers have a bad rap in general. I have witnessed first hand, having to deal with some shady attorneys on the opposing side. I often wondered how they managed to look at themselves in the mirror every morning. Sometime in my career, I inadvertently intercepted a copy of client's invoice for services that we performed. The attorney I worked for at the time charged the client an hourly rate of $90.00 for my processing his bankruptcy petition. According to the invoice, it stated that I worked on the petition for 3.5 hours. At first glance, I thought that it was one hell of a price marked up when my paycheck reflects that I get paid $18 an hour to meet with the client, collect the documentation, prepare the petition, and file it with the court; all within 45 minutes- and yes, I am that good). Other than reviewing, signing the petition, to appear in court for 15 minutes validates charging the bankrupted client $2,000 to $3500 for legal fees. If your house is in foreclosure; if your car is being repossessed or if your paycheck is garnished--let's face it you will pay anything to save your house, save your car or save you money. Yes, I have seen lawyers pressure their clients into retaining them because time is of the essence when dealing with time sensitive matters and some lawyers take advantage of that; some lawyers not all. I would laugh to myself when the client came back from court shocked because their lawyer never said a word. I laughed because they thought that the lawyer was just that good- truth be told, bankruptcy trustees and judges do not directly speak to your lawyer--true fact. They don't say a word- so what did that lawyer actually do for you? The same is true with immigration- another racket where unsuspecting people pay thousands of dollars for the simplest forms and procedures. Thus, is why I started my own document preparation business I have more experience and knowledge than any attorney, graduating law school. So with that, I put it to the test and started my own business. Yes, it is a cut-throat world out there and lawyers are hell bent on monopolizing the game where they want to be the only players on the field. Lucky for me new laws is being changed and state laws are changing with how non-attorneys can work without being hit with cease and desist orders from the bar associations. I shouldn't have to go underground to offer my services. Allowing professional individuals to compete gives people, like me, an opportunity to get a tiny piece of the pie. I know the rules and I will have to follow them accordingly if I want to be able to help those who don't have the money to get things completed without overwhelming them financially. I know that there are some lawyers who accept pro-Bono cases and this is a nice effort to pay it forward, but most only do this with a few cases per a year. To be placed on a waiting list for a lottery will definitely set the odds against you. Finally, don't get me wrong, lawyers are definitely needed, especially if one found themselves in serious trouble. For example, if you were indicted for murder or committed an assault- what if you received a D.U.I. Or maybe you were caught for embezzlement, fraud, tax evasion, then you will no doubt need a lawyer, but to complete a 20-page application or a 6 line document then I will do it myself and save myself the time and money. Bottom line- if you scraped your knee, would you make an appointment to see a heart surgeon for a band-aid? Ponder on that until next time. /

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