Polls are fun. They’re also revealing. Hopefully everyone who reads this post participates, because that will give us an idea of how our readers feel about using attorneys. It will also let us compare our results to that of a national study conducted by Decision Analyst, Inc. in September 2012 entitled The Legal Needs of American Families. Drawing on their worldwide panel of over 8 million consumers, they selected men and women aged 18 to 64 as participants. They balanced those responding to the survey requests for demographics such as age, gender, ethnicity, and household income. The company conducted a total of 1,000 online interviews, and discovered the following:
- 93% believe lawyers charge too much for their services.
- The average hourly rate for legal services paid by respondents was $284, with nearly 25% paying over $400.
- Nearly 20% didn’t know what rate they paid!
- 72% believe lawyers are difficult to reach by phone.
- 63% believe lawyers are not responsive.
- 76% said they were hesitant to call a lawyer.
- 74% said they dread to call a lawyer.
- 72% said they feel most lawyers will try to take advantage of you.
The study also indicates many Americans have difficulty finding qualified legal help, with 67% of the respondents saying they did not a lawyer to call prior to needing one. The remaining 33% said they found an attorney randomly through an online search, the Yellow Pages, or through some sort of advertising. Clearly, most Americans view using attorneys as a crisis-management situation, and don’t actively cultivate relationships with lawyers. Given the statistics above, it’s not hard to understand why. Using attorneys in the traditional way is cost-prohibitive, leading many to view their use as a last resort. No doubt some of the negative feelings expressed above are a direct result of that fact.
Those are scary statistics regarding people in general. However, many readers of this blog are business owners and entrepreneurs. As a group, we tend to keep ourselves well-informed and are savvier than the average person…or are we? Let’s see how we stack up when it comes to the use of attorneys.
Use of Lawyers Among Small Businesses
Decision Analyst conducted another study entitled The Legal Needs of Small Business. Drawing on their Executive Advisory Board, a panel of managers, executives, directors, and owners of small businesses, they chose a sample owners and top executives heading companies with 1 to 250 employees. After interviewing 1,007 respondents online in May 2013, they found some interesting facts:
- Nearly 60% experienced a significant legal event in the past two years.
- Of those experiencing such events, nearly 60% reported not hiring an attorney to help them.
- Nearly all respondents listed at least one legal issue as “one of the greatest threats to their business.”
- Of those who did not seek legal help, nearly 60% said they felt they could handle the matter personally, even though only 1% said they were lawyers or claimed to “have a legal background.”
Why would savvy business owners not use an attorney to help with legal matters? Similar to the average American family, cost is likely a significant factor. Respondents reported spending $7,600 on average in legal expenses annually, with 20% saying they spent more than $10,000 per year. In light of the preceding, the following statistics probably won’t surprise you:
- Of those businesses reporting a significant legal event, 54% did not seek the help of an attorney.
- Among those mentioned above, 40% cited high cost as the reason for their decision.
- Cost is the number one contributor toward business owners having a “negative” experience with attorneys.
Both studies mentioned above list some of the biggest legal challenges facing American families and businesses. I invite you to view both reports; they will enlighten you and shock many. The brief summary presented here highlights the need for qualified legal help on both a personal and professional level. It also points to many misconceptions regarding attorneys, and shows cost as a significant barrier to regularly seeking legal counsel. There’s something inherently broken about a system that prohibits its use by those who need it most.
Get Legal Help When You Need It
Most businesses, especially solopreneurs, don’t have thousands of dollars to set aside each year for legal expenses. Yet not using attorneys isn’t a realistic option. The need for qualified legal advice grows daily. What’s the solution? Protect yourself, your family, and your business with a legal service plan. I don’t say that simply because I offer them. I offer them because I believe they’re necessary.
If the studies above haven’t convinced you, consider this article by Saba Salman appearing on The Guardian website earlier this year (July 2013). In it she lists 16 examples, presented by either the family of the defendant or a member of the defense team, of people who would likely have been wrongly convicted of crimes if not for the legal aid system. Unfortunately, the system in the U.S. lacks funding. Worse, it faces serious cuts. Worse still, most people don’t qualify for legal aid. In my state of New York, for example, The Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc. poses this question on its website, “Can Legal Aid Help Everyone Who Needs It?” The answer is sobering:
“No. All across the United States, funding for legal aid in civil cases has been cut back. We have a limited number of lawyers and paralegals on staff. Because of this, we can only serve about 20% of the people who ask for our help. We may not be able to take your case.”
In our present legal system, where spiraling costs are the norm, legal consultation and assistance is the privilege of a few. By helping protect families and businesses, my fellow LegalShield Associates and I (along with representatives from other companies) help change that paradigm and bring legal assistance to the people, making it the right of the many. We can do the same for you.
When should you use a lawyer? They definitely help during the bad times, yet they’re also there to help keep things going good. If you’d like a consultation to learn more about having such attorney access for your family and/or business, leave your info in the form below and I’ll be happy to get in touch.
- The Legal Aid Society
- Put Your Business and Family Under the Shield (Back-Office Bulletin)
- Questions all Small Businesses Should Ask Their Attorney (Back-Office Bulletin)
- The 5 Most Common Complaints About Legal Service Plans (Back-Office Bulletin)
- 5 Things You Hate About Attorneys and Why You Need Them Anyway (Back-Office Bulletin)
- We are trying to reform legal aid, not destroy it (telegraph.co.uk)
- Missouri court imposes lawyers’ fee to aid the poor (kansascity.com)
- Pro bono legal help for Texans in need (star-telegram.com)
- Do I Need A Business Attorney? (blawginaction.wordpress.com)
- Common Tasks for a Small Business Lawyer (lessaccounting.com)