A lot of people wonder why would I ever need a lawyer? Most people assume that lawyers are mainly for companies that sue each other, people getting divorced or maybe even someone who was injured because of the actions of another. Well these are all good reasons to get a lawyer, but hundreds of other reasons exist beyond these ones. A lawyer’s job is to represent their clients during any number of complicated or contentious disagreements, large purchases or negotiations: activities that most people have little experience with. Here’s a quick story to illustrate.
Recently my brother was in the market for a new car. This is an exciting time for anyone, but this was the first opportunity that my brother had to buy a brand new car, so for him it was extra exciting. After weeks of research on the internet to decide the exact model he wanted, he called me up to ask if I would go car shopping with him. Now as a lawyer I love the back and forth of negotiating, if not for the sole reason that I get to do it all the time in my practice. So I happily tagged along and during the Saturday we spent together, we probably visited six different dealerships in search of a great deal. Unfortunately my brother didn’t find his dream car that day, or I should say, didn’t find his dream price, so he continued on and called me occasionally to ask for advice from time to time.
Fast forward two weeks and my brother had found it, the perfect car! He had also managed to find the perfect price and went ahead and signed a contract to buy the car. However during the negotiations for the purchase price my brother ran into some trouble with the dealership. Like many people who don’t negotiate or experience confrontation at work, the dealers were able to get my brother to sign up for a warranty that he actually never wanted. They promised a price break if he assented and my brother, feeling heavily pressured relented and signed. Things like this happen all the time during car negotiations, people uncomfortable with confrontation and confused with unfamiliar terms don’t fully understand what it is they are signing and they only realize their mistake afterward.
After my brother had picked up his car he came by to show it to me. After taking me for a ride, I asked him if he got the price he was looking for and he told me the story of his uncomfortable final negotiations with the dealership and said he had signed up for a warranty he didn’t actually want. My brother had checked the language contained in the warranty agreement and was happy to find that he had 60 days to cancel the warranty, he asked what I thought and I told him that he was within his rights to cancel and that he should do so as soon as possible.
My Brother proceeded to call up the dealership the next day to tell them he wanted to cancel his contract and unsurprisingly he met some stiff resistance on the phone. The business manager told my brother that because he had negotiated the price staying that he intended to buy the warranty, now that he was canceling, he would have to come back into the car dealership and re-negotiate the price. My brother called me in a panic, having no idea that this could even be a possibility. I was shocked when he told me, because after reviewing the contracts and paperwork that my brother had signed to buy the car, the business manager was absolutely acting in a deceptive way. I explained to my brother that consumer protection statutes and state law protected him against contract modifications like the one the business manager was trying to force upon him and that if he should call back and demand that his unwanted warranty was cancelled.
I sent my brother some information about the applicable laws and he was eventually able to work out his problem, although not without further headaches. But his story is the story of countless americans throughout the country. Consulting a lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean that a courtroom is in your future, much like a trip to the doctor doesn’t immediately mean you need surgery. Consulting a lawyer for large purchases (such as a house) or when you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of can help settle, or more often than not avoid, a disagreement in a much quicker fashion than you ever imagined. Don’t wait until things tumble out of control, lawyer everywhere would be happy to take a call from someone with questions, and their advice can be much less expensive than letting a disagreement go in the long run.