My uncle Chris is an excellent carpenter, and he is one of the smartest people I know. However, I would not hire my uncle Chris to prepare my taxes. Similarly, I love my accountant, Biff, but I would not hire Biff to create a new interior design for my office.
People often get a raw deal for goods or services that they purchased. Often, the inadequate outcome can be anticipated by recognizing at the start that the person or business providing the goods or services is not good at what may be requested of them or is not even legally allowed to do what they are offering.
A common scenario is as follows, “My neighbor is not a mechanic experienced as to my type of car, but he said he could fix my car. After I paid him, I realized the problem was not fixed. Can you (attorney) help me?”
In many instances where shoddy goods or services were provided, there can be recovery. And, admittedly, people should be bound by the commitments they make, even if they have no legitimacy in making those commitments to begin with. Nonetheless, the law often concludes that someone who is wronged “should have known better.”
Attorneys like to think that they can do anything. But that is not true. Many of the professions that require licensing do not accept law licenses as replacement for that profession’s licensure. For example, even though I am very good at cutting hair (see my photo), I cannot act as a hairdresser just because I am a licensed attorney. Similarly, even though the professional field is somewhat similar to law, auctioneering cannot be done by attorneys just because they have law licenses.
Notably, attorneys are allowed to anything that licensed real estate agents can do. Unfortunately, real estate agents cannot do everything that an attorney can do.
Regularly, someone hires me to untangle the various meanings embodied in a real estate purchase agreement form that had many blanks filled in by a real estate agent. Any filling of blanks (other than names) by real estate agents is the unauthorized practice of law. Real estate agents are excellent at listing property and showing property, but real estate agents are not allowed to give legal advice or write or advise as to words’ or sentences’ meanings in contracts.
When someone approaches me to fix a legal agreement prepared by a non-attorney, that person almost always wants me to be paid from the non-attorney who prepared the legal agreement. Unfortunately, when a non-attorney prepares legal documents, that non-attorney is acting illegally, just like an illegal drug dealer who sells prescription medications without a pharmacist’s license. If a dealer in illegal drugs short-changes someone, can that someone sue the drug dealer to recover the money they were shorted? Of course not. Similarly, if house building plans are purchased from a non-architect and the plans do not work, do not expect to be able to recover from that non-architect.
Hire the right professional, and save money from the start.
Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. He can be reached at Lee@LeeSchroeder.com or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.