Every year since 1991, the Gallup Organization has polled Americans on which profession they consider the most honest and ethical. When nurses are on the list they always come out on top, except in 2001 when firefighters, understandably, took the distinction.
Lawyers always run near the bottom, ahead of lobbyists, car salespeople, and members of Congress but behind reporters, bankers, and auto mechanics.
Love them or hate them, if you plan to make money, and keep it in the family after you die, you need to develop a relationship with an attorney.
Lawyers can help you with business disputes and tax questions. They can make sure your business and real estate purchases are set up correctly. Lawyers can help you plan what happens to you or your family if you should suddenly die or become disabled. And, even more important, they can make sure those plans are carried out.
Lawyers can help if you are in an accident. They can help if you are being sued or jerked around by creditors. Lawyers can help if someone owes you money and won’t pay.
I’ve watched people make serious life decisions without using lawyers. That usually doesn’t work well. I’ve seen people pay unnecessarily large chunks in taxes, usually along with penalties and interest because they didn’t ask a lawyer about a transaction. I’ve seen property disputes arise that didn’t need to happen, simply because people didn’t use attorneys to draw up proper deeds, leases and agreements.
I’ve seen people get burned because they drew up employment contracts or business agreements without an attorney to help them. I’ve watched people lose everything because they co-signed or guaranteed loans and didn’t ask an attorney to guide them through the pitfalls.
I encourage people to use an attorney when they start their own business.
When it comes to finding a good lawyer, I have a strong bias toward Main Street lawyers over Wall Street lawyers.
Main Street lawyers deal with common problems and common people. They tend to charge Main Street fees instead of Wall Street fees.
I’m tired of subsidizing Wall Street lawyers who go to Washington and “regulate” the people they used to work for.
A blog by Rolling Stone Magazine’s Matt Taibbi about the practice was titled: “The SEC’s (Securities and Exchange Commission) Revolving Door: From Wall Street Lawyers to Wall Street Watchdogs.”
Taibbi said that one Wall Street firm had so many employees leaving the firm to join the SEC or leaving the SEC to join the firm that the firm was nicknamed “SEC West.”
The dynamics of a small town are perfect for developing skills that make someone a top-notch lawyer.
Small-town juries won’t allow a lot of showboating. In a small town, everyone knows everything about everybody. It’s like a scaled-down version of Facebook.
It’s the type of continuous oversight that would greatly benefit Wall Street.
Most of us need someone to double check decisions and keep us from making serious mistakes.
That is the thing that lawyers do well.
Don McNay lives in Richmond, Ky., and is an award-winnng financial columnist and Huffington Post Contributor. You can learn more about him at www.donmcnay.com.
Category: Don McNay
About the Author (Author Profile)
Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is the best sellling author of the book Wealth Without Wall Street: A Main Street Guide to Making Money.
McNay is an award winning financial columnist and Huffington Post Contributor.
He is the Chairman of the Board for the McNay Settlement Group (www.mcnay.com) which provides structured settlement consulting for injury victims, lottery winners, and the families of special needs children.
McNay founded Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC, which assists attorneys in as conservators and setting up guardianship’s. It is nationally recognized as an administrator of Qualified Settlement (468b) funds.
Don has appeared on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and over 100 radio and television programs.
McNay has Master’s Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Eastern Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni. Don is a Quarter Century member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field.