The Value of Accountability

People are often reluctant to hire attorneys.  Where did attorneys gain such a bad reputation?  Like other professions, a few bad apples spoil it for the rest of the lot.  As a member of the Oregon State Bar, having served two terms on the House of Delegates and as a member of the Marion County Bar Association, I find that working with most lawyers in Oregon to be enjoyable.  There is a sense of accountability among lawyers in Oregon, an accountability not only to the client, but to the tribunal and third parties.  This type of accountability lends itself to trust in the ability of the attorney.  Oregon applies Rules of Professional Conduct to its member attorneys and the bar is active in regulating the quality of its members.

An important challenge facing the legal profession is not the high cost of doing business, but the fact that sometimes online legal services appear to be the way to go.  What the client does not get with finding legal services online is accountability.

A few years ago, a prospective client came to me after having spent $2,500.00 filing an application for a trademark with an online service.  After reviewing the paperwork, it was clear the client did all of the work that a lawyer would do, and a lawyer would not have charged as much.  The client also assumed all of the risk and the service provider required the client to waive liability against the provider.  Ultimately, the client succeeded at registering the mark.  A lawyer would have handled the matter after gathering the necessary information from the client with ease. 

Recently a client came to me and, as many of my clients, that client had been taken advantage of by others in his life.  How does one build trust?  Many people tend to trust someone until proven otherwise.  Why is that?  What is it in human nature that makes us trust until we are hurt or harmed?  If it were the other way around, where trust is earned, what is the best way to accomplish that in a short period of time?  After all, attorneys are entrusted with the secrets of their clients.  When a client seeks legal services, what is there to indicate whether that lawyer is worthy of the matters before him or her?

In my endeavors as a professional, I strive to provide value for the services provided.  Most of all, as a real person, sitting at a real desk, I provide real accountability.  While we may not always like what we hear; sometimes the best solution is to assess the situation, make a decision and move on.  Before you decide to “do it yourself” or purchase legal services from an online site, take a moment to explore your options.  Sometimes lawyers are not as expensive as you may think, and most of the time it is worth hiring a professional who is accountable for his or her actions.

A good lawyer will want repeat business and look out for the interest of the client.