Wait... Lawyers Do That?
Since the founding of the Strong Firm P.C. in 2004, we have prided ourselves on not only providing excellent legal services, but also playing a large role in our community. Every year I have the opportunity to speak to area students from first grade through college grad students on legal-related topics. Though the complexity varies greatly based on the age of the audience, one topic remains consistent regardless: what do lawyers do? Below is the typical dialog when this topic is discussed with a local elementary class, but the same discussion happens with college students, as well.
Attorney: “Can anyone tell me what a lawyer does?”
Students: The answers vary from: “Lawyers get you out of jail” and “Lawyers sue people in court” to “My mom used a lawyer when she divorced my dad, and my dad said that my mom’s lawyer is a no-good bum.”
Students: (Class laughs)
Attorney: “Well, it is true that lawyers represent people who have been charged with a crime to make sure they get a fair trial and if they are innocent, to keep them from going to prison. Lawyers also represent people in lawsuits and couples in divorces and unfortunately, some lawyers might even be no-good bums.”
Students: (Class laughs)
Attorney: “What if I told you an attorney was probably involved in some capacity in everything you see or are touching right now? Would you believe me?”
Students: (Typically, only a few students raise their hand.)
Attorney: “OK, if I am a good lawyer, I should be able to prove it to you, right?”
Students: (Resoundingly) “YES!”
Attorney: (Attorney holds up a pencil) “This pencil is made of wood and lead with rubber and metal in the eraser, right?”
Attorney: “Well, first let’s think about just the wood from the pencil. That wood may have come from a tree farm. The farmer who bought the land for the tree farm probably used an attorney to draw up the contract to purchase the farm and if he used a bank loan, then the bank used an attorney to draw up the loan paper work.”
Students: “But what if he got the land from his mom and dad?”
Attorney: “Great point. He may not have purchased the land. Maybe he inherited the land from his parents, but even in that case, a lawyer is probably the one who wrote the will for the farmer’s parents. At the farm, the farmer uses tractors and equipment. Each one of the companies that make the farm equipment, the tires for the tractors, the gas that fuels the tractors, and even the company or city that provides the water the farmer uses on the farm, all used lawyers to draft different contracts, agreements and policies with vendors, customers and even with their employers, right?”
Attorney: “And that is just for the wood used in the pencil. The same is true for the company that makes the lead, as well as the companies that make the metal and rubber for the eraser. That is not even considering the pencil company that takes the wood, lead, rubber and metal and puts them together to make the pencil.
The pencil company has a lot of contracts written by lawyers with vendors, distributors, stores that sell the pencil and the trucking companies that ship the pencils all over the country. All of this for one little pencil. Think how many more attorneys played a part in making the jeans you are wearing or the computer your teacher uses in class. Do you see how lawyers do a lot more than just represent people in court? As a matter of fact, MOST of the work that lawyers do never involves the inside of a courtroom.”
While this is a simple example for elementary students, it is useful even for our most sophisticated of clients. Oftentimes, it is helpful to have your legal counsel drafting and reviewing contracts and agreements before there is a legal dispute with the hope that a contract that is well drafted and reviewed by an experienced corporate attorney will help avoid legal wrangling in the future. At the Strong Firm P.C., we help hundreds of clients each year with negotiating and drafting complex business contracts with the goal of avoiding litigation in the future. But if litigation does occur, we make sure you are in the best legal position possible, and we would love to do the same for you.
Eric R. Thiergood, Sr.