Some of my business clients don’t see the need for an attorney. They don’t see the value in having someone help them put their contracts and agreements onto paper. Since nothing has gone wrong yet, they can’t understand why they need a risk assessment. These clients think like that because they’re used to thinking of lawyer as reactive.
A reactive lawyer is an attorney who helps you fix something that’s already happened. Divorce, custody, criminal, personal injury and bankruptcy attorneys are all reactive. We all hope that we never need to hire one, but when shit happens, we’re glad they’re around. They react to the situation and help you make the most of it.
Estate planning and business lawyers are proactive lawyers. You hire an attorney to draft your will before you die. You hire a business lawyer to build the foundation of your business before things go wrong (of course, when things do go wrong, a business law attorney can help then, too). The proactive lawyer is the lawyer who’s there to help you before you actually need help.
Next time you’re thinking about getting help from a lawyer, remember that it’s usually more cost effective to hire a proactive lawyer than a reactive lawyer. When you’re proactive about your legal needs, you have time to shop, find an attorney you like and trust, and can develop a relationship before you make a purchase. When you need a reactive lawyer, you’re generally already knee deep, and may go with the first attorney who’s recommended to you. Unfortunately, some reactive lawyers take advantage of that.