Posted on: Apr 8, 2020
COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is significantly impacting small businesses in our state and across our country. In response, Congress’s third phase of its stimulus package is designed to combat this effect through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or the “Act”). The CARES Act proposes to give relief to small businesses in the form of Small Business Interruption Loans, which will be administered under the existing Small Business Administration (“SBA”) Section 7(a) small business loan program. The new “Paycheck Protection Program” (“PPP” or the “Program”) expands Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act by providing forgivable loans to businesses with 500 or fewer employees. Another, separate loan option for businesses is the Economic Injury Disaster Assistance (“EIDL”) Loan, under Section 7(b).
A. What Businesses are Eligible, Section 7(a) PPP Loan
Small businesses, non-profits, and veteran organizations with fewer than 500 employees (unless the covered industry’s SBA size standard allows more than 500 employees) and that meet the eligibility factors. To determine eligibility, lenders look at whether the business (i) was in operation on February 15, 2020; and (ii) had employees for whom the borrower business paid salaries and payroll taxes.
The Act excludes nonprofit organizations from eligibility that receive Medicaid reimbursements, it does include sole proprietors, independent contractors and other self-employed individuals as eligible, and it provides an exception for businesses in the hospitality and dining industries with more than one physical location and with no more than 500 employees per physical location.
For hospitality and dining industry businesses with more than one physical location, if they employ 500 or fewer employees per location and are assigned to the “accommodation and food services” sector (Sector 72) under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the businesses are eligible to receive a loan.
It is important to note that a borrower business who received a disaster loan under Section 7(b)(2) of the Small Business Act related to COVID-19 for purposes of paying payroll and providing payroll support would not be eligible for a Section 7(a) loan based on the same purposes/needs.
B. Loan Period
The loan period for this program began on February 15, 2020, and ends on June 30, 2020. This means that businesses can apply for the loan any time during that period, and the loan funds can be applied to costs incurred during that period, including retroactively.
C. Loan Forgiveness
The CARES Act provides a process by which borrower businesses would be eligible for loan forgiveness. The amount forgivable is equal to the amount spent by the borrower during an eight- week period after the origination date of the SBA loan on payroll costs, interest payments on any mortgage incurred prior to February 15, 2020, payments of rent on any lease in force prior to February 15, 2020, and payments to any utility for which service began before February 15, 2020. Note, group healthcare benefit payments and interest payments on other debt obligations are not forgivable amounts, although they are allowable uses. Ultimately, the amount forgiven will be reduced in proportion to any reduction in employees retained after the 8-week period compared to the prior year and to the reduction in the compensation of any employee beyond 25% of his or her prior year’s compensation.
To request forgiveness of the loan, borrower businesses will need to submit a request to the lender that is servicing the loan. The request will include documents that verify the number of full-time equivalent employees and pay rates, along with documents showing payments on eligible mortgage, lease, and utility obligations. Borrower businesses must certify that the documents are true and that they used the forgiveness amount to keep employees and make eligible mortgage interest, rent and utility payments. The lender has 60 days in which to make a decision on forgiveness.
D. Loan Amounts
The maximum amount of each loan is either 2.5 times the amount of the applicant’s average monthly payroll, or a maximum loan amount of $10 million.
E. Loan Requirements
F. Allowable Uses for Loan
Businesses may, in addition to the existing uses allowed under the SBA’s Business Loan Program, use the loans for:
1. Payroll costs
This includes: compensation to employees, such as salary, wage, commissions, cash, etc.; paid leave; severance payments; payment for group health benefits, including insurance premiums; retirement benefits; state and local payroll taxes; and compensation to sole proprietors or independent contractors (including commission-based compensation) up to $100,000 in 1 year, prorated for the covered period;
Eligible payroll expense does not include individual employee compensation above $100,000 per year, prorated for the covered period; certain federal taxes; compensation to employees whose principal place of residence is outside of the US; and emergency sick and family leave wages for which credit is allowed under the Families First Act.
2. Group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and the related insurance premiums;
3. Salaries, commissions, or similar compensations;
4. Payments of interest on mortgage obligations;
5. Rent/lease agreement payments;
6. Utilities; and
7. Interest on any other debt obligations incurred before the covered period.
G. Loan Interest
The interest rate on loans under section 7(a) is set at a maximum of 4%. There are no subsidy recoupment fees associated with the loans and no prepayment penalty for any payments made. The loans have a maximum maturity of 10 years, and an additional provision in the CARES Act provides for possible deferment of repayment of the loans for a period of at least six months, but not more than a year.
A loan made under the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program since January 31, 2020, may be refinanced as part of a covered loan under this new program as soon as these new loans are made available. The CARES Act specifically allows SBA Disaster Loan recipients with economic injury disaster loans made since January 31, 2020 for purposes other than the permitted loan uses under this program to receive assistance under this program.
I. Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, Section 7(b)(2)
Separate from the Small Business Act 7(a) loan discussed above, the Act also relaxes/expands the requirements for a different loan available through the SBA. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) program is also available for small businesses that have sustained economic injury from COVID-19 and are located in a disaster declared area.
Each EIDL loan amount is limited to the business’s economic injury, which is determined by the SBA, and other factors such as business interruption insurance and potential contributions available to the business. Importantly, if the business is a “major” source of employment, the SBA may waive the $2 million maximum loan amount limit. EIDL loans may be used to pay fixed ordinary and necessary financial obligations that businesses are unable to pay as a direct result of the disaster – such as fixed debts, payroll, and accounts payable. The EIDL loan’s interest rate will depend on different factors set by law but will not exceed 3.75% and is set for the entire life of the loan. For non-profits, the interest rate will not exceed 2.75%. The EIDL loan’s repayment is extended over a longer period, up to 30 years, to ease the burden on businesses. EIDL loans over $25,000 require collateral, but loans cannot be denied if the applicant does not have any collateral to pledge. In that case, the applicant would be required to pledge what is available, and the SBA will take real estate as collateral when practicable.
The Act establishes an emergency grant to allow an eligible entity that has applied for an EIDL loan to request an advance on that loan of no more than $10,000, which the SBA must distribute within three days. An applicant would not be required to repay such an advance payment, even if it is subsequently denied an EIDL loan. Eligible entities would include startups, cooperatives and ESOPs with fewer than 500 employees, and any individual operating as a sole proprietor or an independent contractor. For EIDL loans made in response to COVID-19 before December 31, 2020, the SBA must waive any personal guarantee on advances and loans below $200,000, as well as the requirement that an applicant be in business for the one-year period before the disaster and the “credit elsewhere” requirement.
J. Express Loans
The SBA already has an Express Loan Program that provides loans within 36 hours. The CARES Act increases Express Loan amounts from $350,000 to $1,000,000 thorough the end of 2020.
K. When and Where to Apply for Loans
Businesses can apply through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. Businesses can visit www.sba.gov for a list of SBA lenders. Small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply starting April 3, 2020. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can start applying April 10, 2020.
L. What Documents are Needed to Apply for Loans
Businesses will need to complete the Paycheck Protection Program loan application and submit the application with the required documentation to an approved lender. The application can be found at www.sba.gov. Businesses will also need to provide payroll documentation to the lender.
Erica Green focuses her practice on employment law at Kramer Rayson LLP. This column is provided through the Knoxville Bar Association, your trusted source for lawyer referrals. The KBA is a nonprofit corporation that offers community service programs such as the Lawyer Referral & Information Service, speakers’ bureau, and public education programs.
If you’re looking for a lawyer and just don’t know where to start, the Knoxville Bar Association’s LRIS is a great place to begin. We match you with a lawyer that suits your needs. Our trusted attorneys provide you with a free consultation so that you can decide if it’s the right fit. Want to learn more? Call us at (865) 522-7501 or visit knoxbar.org/lawyerfinder.
The materials contained in this blog are intended to, and do, provide only a broad overview of various legal topics. The general information contained in this material is not designed nor intended to be a substitute for legal advice on a specific legal issue or question. In addition, the information provided in this material is only general advice and may not be applicable to apparent similar individual problems, since only slight changes in facts change the applicable advice. If you have a legal problem or question, please consult an attorney.
Any publication, distribution, or other use of these materials without the express written consent of the Knoxville Bar Association is prohibited.
Posted on: Mar 31, 2020
It is never a bad time to think about estate planning; however, in the midst of COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, many individuals have questions regarding the various estate planning documents and what they may need. The following is a very brief overview of some of the various documents; however, this is not legal advice, and you should always consult qualified counsel before taking any action.
A. Last Will and Testament
A will is a legal document that details how you want your property and affairs to be handled upon your death. For a will to be valid, the individual, called a testator or testatrix, must be over 18 years old, of sound mind, and the testator or testatrix must sign the will in front of two witnesses, and those two witnesses must also sign the will in front of each other. While the two witnesses need not be disinterested witnesses, any interested witness is limited to what he/she can take under the will to that which he/she would have received had the testator died without a will. Accordingly, it is recommended that the two witnesses be disinterested to avoid unintended consequences.
Tennessee also recognizes what are called holographic wills, which is a will done in your own handwriting. It is important to note that you cannot type your will and then sign it. Tennessee law requires that the “material provisions” in such a will be handwritten; therefore, it is best to handwrite the entire document.
Tennessee also recognizes nuncupative wills (also sometimes called “deathbed wills”). Nuncupative wills may be made only by a person in imminent peril of death, whether from illness or otherwise, and shall be valid only if the testator died as a result of the impending peril. In order for a nuncupative will to be valid, it must be: (1) declared to be the testator’s will by the testator before two (2) disinterested witnesses; (2) reduced to writing by or under the direction of one (1) of the witnesses within thirty (30) days after such declaration; and (3) submitted for probate within six (6) months after the death of the testator. The nuncupative will may dispose of personal property only and to an aggregate value not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), except that in the case of persons in active military, air or naval service in time of war the aggregate amount may be ten thousand dollars ($10,000). A nuncupative will neither revokes nor changes an existing written will. With the obvious limitations of a nuncupative will, it is certainly not the best choice unless it is the only choice available.
Certain assets under Tennessee law pass outside of Probate, meaning they will pass to a designated beneficiary without the necessity of having a will. Such assets include retirement accounts such as IRAs or 401ks, life insurance proceeds, property held in a living trust, funds in payable-on-death (POD) accounts, and securities registered in transfer-on-death (TOD) form. For such accounts, you can name a beneficiary, which is a person who you wish to receive such assets upon your death.
B. Living Will
A living will is a document that allows you to specify your decisions related to end of life care. This includes such things like whether or not you wish to be kept alive by artificial means and whether you wish to donate your organs. To make a living will, it must be in writing and signed by the individual in front of a notary public or signed in front of two witnesses without a notary public. If it is signed in front of two witnesses without a notary public, at least one of the witnesses must be disinterested. A disinterested witness, in this case, is a witness who is not related to the principal by blood, marriage, or adoption and would not be entitled to any portion of the estate of the principal upon the death of the principal under any will or codicil made by the principal existing at the time of execution of the declaration or by operation of law then existing.
C. Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a way to grant another individual the power to make decisions for you. A Health Care Power of Attorney is a document that allows you to designate a person you wish to make medical and end of life decisions for you. A General Durable Power of Attorney is a document that allows you to grant another individual the power to make financial decisions for you. This would include such things like writing checks, selling or acquiring real property, managing bank accounts and insurance, etc. To be effective, a power of attorney must be signed by the individual in front of a notary or in front of two witnesses without a notary. If it is signed in front of two witnesses without a notary, at least one of those witnesses must be disinterested, meaning, in this case, that the witness is not related to the principal by blood, marriage, or adoption and would not be entitled to any portion of the estate of the principal upon the death of the principal under any will or codicil made by the principal existing at the time of execution of the durable power of attorney for health care or by operation of law then existing.
If you have a question about any of these documents, we encourage you to seek legal advice.
On March 18th President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This new law requires certain employers to provide emergency limited paid and unpaid leave under the FMLA and emergency paid sick leave in certain limited circumstances. Some of the highlights are discussed below.
Beginning and End Date: Both the expanded FMLA and the emergency paid sick leave provisions take effect on April 2, 2020, and expire on December 31, 2020.
What Employers Are Covered? Both provisions apply to all employers with fewer than 500 employees, including public agencies. Both allow employers of an employee who is a healthcare provider or an emergency responder to elect to exclude the employee from these two provisions. Both also allow subsequent Department of Labor regulations to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if applying these provisions would jeopardize the viability of the business.
Who Is Eligible? Under the FMLA provision both full and part-time employees who have been on the employer’s payroll for 30 days are eligible. But the paid sick leave provision applies to all employees, regardless of length of service.
What reason qualifies for the FMLA expansion? This is limited to an employee who cannot work or telework due to the need to care for the employee’s minor son or daughter if the minor child’s school or place of childcare has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable due to a “public health emergency” with respect to COVID-19 declared by a federal, state or local authority. Basically, it is “caregiver leave”.
Is any of this expanded FMLA leave paid? Yes. The first 10 days (two weeks) are unpaid, but an employee can substitute accrued paid leave, including the new emergency paid sick leave. The remaining leave ( a maximum of 10 weeks, as the total available is still 12 weeks) is paid at 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate, for the number of hours the employee would be otherwise scheduled to work. This pay is capped at $200 a day and $10,000 total.
Is expanded FMLA leave job protected? Yes, the employee must be restored to the same or equivalent position. However, there is an exception for employers with less than 25 employees, if the employee’s position no longer exists due to operational changes related to the public health emergency, such as a reduction in force or restructuring because of a downturn in business.
What qualifies for emergency paid sick leave? The inability to work or telework due to any of the following:
How much emergency paid sick leave is required? 80 hours maximum, but available immediately, so no accrual requirement. Paid at the regular rate of pay for reasons 1-3 above (employee is sick), with a maximum of $511 a day and $5,110 in total. For reasons 4-6 above (caregiver reasons) it is paid at 2/3 the regular rate of pay, with a maximum of $200 a day and $2,000 in total.
Can I require employees to use paid leave under an existing policy before using this new emergency paid leave? No. The emergency paid leave is supplemental.
Does the unused emergency sick leave carryover? No, the unused leave does not carryover to the next year. It also does not have to be paid upon termination under this law, but your state law might require it to be paid, so check that before you make a final decision. Under current Tennessee law, so long as you state in the policy that it will not be paid upon termination you do not have to pay it.
Do I get a tax break? Potentially under both the expanded FMLA and the emergency sick leave provisions. Talk with a tax lawyer, or your accountant.
Of course, you cannot retaliate against an employee for exercising his or her rights under these new laws. You will also have to post a Notice detailing these laws, and the Department of Labor is in the process of drafting that Notice.
There are a lot of issues and open questions with these sweeping changes. Hopefully, this guidance will help you navigate these uncharted waters.
Chad Hatmaker focuses his practice on employment law and commercial litigation and he is a Member of Woolf McClane. This column is provided through the Knoxville Bar Association, your trusted source for lawyer referrals. The KBA is a nonprofit corporation that offers community service programs such as the Lawyer Referral & Information Service, speakers’ bureau and public education programs.
Posted on: Mar 26, 2020
The owners of small businesses do so much more than sell a product or service. They are team leaders, risk assessors, investment deciders, public relations coordinators, and so much more. One of the most important hats that small business owners wear is the legal hat. Smart business owners understand that they need to have proper procedures in place to ensure that everything they do is handled legally — from hiring and firing to marketing to customer relations. If your business is too small to have its own internal legal team, you likely have a lot of questions about how to handle the legal issues (both expected and unexpected) that arise. Today we’re answering a few of small business owners’ most commonly asked questions. But there’s one common thread you’ll notice runs through all of our answers — when you are not sure about your specific situation, it is probably best to consult an attorney.
I’m owed money from a customer. What are my options?
If a customer owes you money, you have many options including liens, collection efforts, and filing a lawsuit. To determine which option is best for your individual situation, it is best to sit down with an attorney to discuss what makes the most legal and financial sense.
What kind of license do I need to run a business in Tennessee?
Most businesses are required to have a business license, but the type will depend on what kind of work you do, where you are located, and how much income you generate. For example, if you make under $10,000 a year, you might qualify for a minimal activity business license. A lawyer can help you determine what is required based on your specific situation.
I’ve received a summons for small claims court on behalf of my business. Can I represent myself, or do I need an attorney?
It depends. Certainly if your business is incorporated, you will likely need an attorney to represent it. If not incorporated, you’ll still want to get an attorney’s advice on your best option. An attorney can give you reliable perspective about how complicated or uncomplicated your time in small claims court will be, and whether or not it would be wise to proceed on your own.
I have been approached by potential volunteers looking for work experience with my small business. How should I handle this?
Although this may sound like a golden opportunity, it is not legal for for-profit businesses to accept free labor. You may ask yourself, “What about an intern?” The Fair Labor Standards Act has very specific rules about what does and does not qualify. You will need a lawyer’s help to navigate this.
Where can I find a lawyer to help me with the legal side of my small business?
You’re in the right place! You can use the Knoxville Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) is a great resource for connecting with a lawyer who can offer you guidance. Try it today by calling (865) 522-7501!
Posted on: Feb 10, 2020
When you’ve never been to court before, making an appearance can seem daunting. It’s a lot less intimidating, though, when you have a clear idea of what to expect. Read on to get the information you need to feel confident and prepared on your first day in court.
All individuals must dress appropriately for court hearings. Anything considered distracting or disruptive to the judicial process is considered inappropriate. The judges often enforce a dress code. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you were interviewing for a job as an office administrator. Women should wear closed-toe shoes, and a conservative dress or a skirt/blouse or dress pants/blouse combo. A sweater is appropriate as sometimes courtrooms are chilly. Men should wear dress shoes with socks, long pants with a belt, and a collared shirt with a tie. Bring a jacket in case you get cold, but it is not necessary to wear it at all times.
Do not wear anything with rips or tears, skirts or dresses that come up higher than a couple of inches above the knees, shorts, halter tops, tank tops, or anything that reveals the chest or is transparent. Avoid hats and non-prescription dark glasses as well.
Specific rules about each court’s dress code can be found online, and above all you should adhere to any guidance your lawyer provides as to appropriate attire.
Officials know that inclement weather may interfere with people’s ability to get to court. Different courts follow different inclement weather policies. For example:
US District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee: Info about closures and delays will be available on the court’s website and answering machine.
US Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Tennessee: Info about closures and delays will be available on the court’s website and answering machine.
Tennessee Supreme Court: Info about closures and delays will be available on the court’s website.
Knox County Criminal Court: If Knox County schools are closed, court will close the first day. Each day after will be decided by the judge. The court will not open late if the schools open late. Info about closures and delays will be announced on local radio and television.
If the court you’re going to is not included in this sample, you can find it here.
It is important to be on your best behavior in court, no matter what type of issue you are facing. Although you may feel emotional, you must keep yourself in check and behave respectfully.
Acting out can result in criminal charges.
Do not speak out of turn, but if you are called upon to speak, do so clearly and loudly enough for everyone to hear. You must refer to the judge as “Your Honor.” Your attorney can give you more information about how to behave in court and what to expect. If you don’t have a lawyer yet, we can help. Learn more about our Referral Service here.
Posted on: Jan 2, 2020
Most people have heard of a lawsuit. But what exactly does a lawsuit entail? And how do you know if the issue you’re dealing with warrants a lawsuit? Read on to find out!
A lawsuit is a claim or dispute brought by one party or multiple parties against another party. There are several different kinds of civil lawsuits including:
If you’re considering a lawsuit, you should think about the following things before you decide whether or not to proceed with this legal action.
Do you have what it takes to believably prove your side of the story? Do you have witnesses who are willing to testify? Evidence? Screenshots of the wrongdoing? Your attorney can help you decide if there’s enough evidence for you to make a compelling case.
Determining this may require researching the law or gathering more information about your situation. You don’t want to pursue a lawsuit against someone only to later find out they actually did nothing wrong.
Going to court isn’t cheap. Lawsuits involve lawyer fees, filing fees, investigative costs, and so much more. Can you afford it?
Is it worth it to you to follow through with this lawsuit? Does the person have the funds to give you the compensation you’re looking for if the lawsuit is successful? Would your compensation pay you for your time and your expenses with more left over at the end?
If you’re suing someone, you will definitely need a lawyer. Do you have a qualified one already, or would you need a referral? If you need a lawyer referral, click here to learn more about Knoxville Bar Association’s helpful Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS).
Posted on: Dec 10, 2019
If you’re meeting with a lawyer for the first time, you might be feeling nervous, but you shouldn’t! Lawyers do what they do because they want to help people in your situation — be it anything from a family law matter like divorce, to an employment law matter like wrongful termination, to a criminal law matter like a drug possession charge. Your first meeting with a lawyer is your chance not only to get to know them and determine if they’re the right fit for your case, but also to help them to help you. One of the most important ways you can do this is by bringing in the needed documentation. Read on to learn about a few of the documents you should consider taking to your first meeting with a lawyer.
If you already have court documents because parts of your case have already unfolded, you should absolutely have them with you when meeting with your lawyer. These can help your lawyer understand what exactly is going on, where you stand legally, and what needs to happen next.
These are important for family law matters like divorce and child custody.
Bring in anything you have that might be considered evidence in your case. You have proof that your spouse cheated and that’s why you want a divorce? Bring the documentation. You’ve been accused of a robbery, but you have photos of yourself at the bowling alley at the time the crime was committed? Bring the documentation. You were injured in a car accident and want to sue the other driver for negligence? Bring the documentation — police report, photos from the accident scene, all of it! When it comes to these kinds of things, the more documentation you can provide, the better. Your lawyer will be able to determine what is useful and what isn’t.
Don’t risk finding yourself in the annoying situation of realizing on the drive home that you forgot to ask an important question. You may be nervous or excited during your consultation, so prepare questions to ask in advance.
Still looking for a lawyer? Check out the Knoxville Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service to be matched with a lawyer who has experience with your type of legal problem. We wish you the best of luck!
Posted on: Nov 1, 2019
When you’re facing a legal issue, it’s important to know what kind of case you have on your hands. Is it a civil case or a criminal case? Many people get civil law and criminal law confused, or even use the terms interchangeably, but they are quite different!
The essential difference between civil and criminal law is that criminal law deals with crimes (i.e. illegal offenses ranging from petty theft to homicide) while civil law deals with disputes between people, companies, or both. The following are the biggest differences between civil and criminal law.
Civil cases are filed by a private party while criminal cases are filed by the state or federal government.
If you’ve watched a true crime show or even just the news, you’ve probably heard the phrase “beyond reasonable doubt.” The government must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt to get a conviction in a criminal case. Meanwhile, in civil cases the plaintiff has to provide “preponderance of evidence.”
If things go poorly for you in a civil case, you will be found “liable,” whereas if things go poorly for you in a criminal case, you will be found “guilty.”
In a civil case, the victim is usually awarded compensation for injuries and damage if it can be proved that the other party was at fault (or in other words is “liable”). In criminal cases, guilty defendants may be punished with fines or incarceration, depending on the severity of the crime.
If either party in a civil case disagrees with the outcome, they can make an appeal. In a criminal case only the defendant can file an appeal. If the defendant is proven innocent, they cannot be tried for the same offense again.
Whether your legal matter falls in the civil category or the criminal, it is essential to have a lawyer by your side to help you navigate the situation. The Knoxville Bar Association’s LRIS can help you find the right lawyer to suit your circumstances. Find out more by calling us at (865) 522-7501.
Posted on: Oct 19, 2019
Choosing the right attorney to represent you or your business is one of the most impactful decisions you’ll ever make. The right attorney can make the difference between your business failing and succeeding. It can be the difference between an innocent or guilty verdict, and the difference between paying a fine or serving jail time. Your attorney is your advocate and your representation, so it needs to be someone you feel comfortable with. It needs to be someone trustworthy. It needs to be someone who understands your situation.
So how do you find the perfect lawyer? What criteria should you be looking for? And once you meet with a lawyer, how can you tell if it’s the right fit?
When you’re talking to your lawyer, you should feel like you’re both on the same page. You’ve probably heard someone describe a person as, “Oh yeah, so-and-so really speaks my language.” Your lawyer should speak your language. You should feel confident that when you express your needs, concerns, and expectations, they really get it. You should also make sure you feel like you understand the information they’re passing on to you. Legal issues are often complex, but a good lawyer can, in a sense, translate things out of “legalese” and into language that you can understand. Understanding each other is a matter of both communication and personality.
Your lawyer needs to be licensed to practice, of course, but he or she also needs to have the proper know-how in the certain area of law that you need help with. You should feel confident that they have the knowledge and ability to represent you well. A good lawyer works hard to stay up to date on changes to the law, and is willing to research the particularities of your case that may be less familiar to them.
You need to find a lawyer that you can afford because you do not want to find yourself in a situation where you cannot pay for the services you receive. You should understand your lawyer’s pricing structure before doing business together.
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