Saturday 23 June 2018

How to make legal services more affordable, and feed the masses of unemployed law graduates ...

How to actually open up the legal profession, and legal services.

I often hear the same suggestions, which just don't work, when it comes to making legal services more accessible. We are told we need more government intervention, more tariffs and rules.

I have something radical to suggest: less rules.

If you want more people to do something with their LLB, give them practical trade training, and let them practise straight away. Get rid of articles of clerkship. Americans do well without it, and the market is much better at establishing standards than statutes and laws are.

Get rid of comparitive advertising rules, in fact, let attorneys advertise their prices, let them do discounts, and vouchers. Let them pay marketing agencies to get them clients. Let them share offices and resources and fees. Let them have lay shareholders, even. These things have not destroyed the medical profession. If anything, medical services are more available as a result.

In any market, heavy regulations favour the status quo and push out new competition. In a place like America, anyone can get legal services.

Imagine if the so called street advocates and attorneys who struggle, instead of competing with everyone else for the same upper middle class business, were allowed to charge say R 20.00 an hour instead of the fees they have to charge. Many could survive in law, on that even. It would open legal services up. Township barbers in no way reduce the quality of service found in a top hair salon. What they do is give people hair care at a price they are prepared to pay for the quality and service they want.

What would happen if we got rid of undercharging prohibitions? People who want the current levels of service would still pay for them. And those in up market suburbs or near big businesses would still have the same clients. However, just as private schools are offering very cheap fees for the poor, lawyers could then compete with legal aid. Small debts, like R 5000.00 would also become more affordable to litigate, opening up legal services for smaller debts.

I would love to see a world where free market capitalism, and all its advertising and voluntary fee arrangements and market regulations could bring legal services to everyone, and allow the other 75% to make money from the legal degree they studied. Don't have own transport? No trouble if you work for yourself and are prepared to take a taxi or bus to court. Don't speak Tswana or Afrikaans? That is fine if you are working for yourself and your clients speak Zulu or English.

Currently, we are heading in the exact opposite direction. It does not have to be that way. So much of the poverty we see among LLB graduates is the direct result of law and regulations. Let's educate the powers that be to let the market regulate our services. It can work.

Sunday 17 June 2018

Signing a power of attorney

The word attorney, in the context of a power of attorney, means agent.

The Attorneys Act has changed its meaning in general use to the meaning of attorney at law, a person who can represent others at court. In fact, power of attorney almost always appoints an attorney at fact, someone to run business and financial affairs.

It can be drafted without an attorney, on itself from scratch or based on precedents, and precedents can be bought at most Waltons or at CNAs, but caution must be had in signing one. They can become irrevocable if drafted in certain ways, and some are best registered at the deeds office.

Anything giving that much power should preferably be drafted by an attorney. Certain institutions demand that any power of attorney over their contracts be signed in the presence of their chosen employees, to avoid fraud.

Also, if the person granting the mandate is losing their faculties, curatorship or appointment of someone to manage their affairs in terms of the Mental Health Care Act is advisable, the moment they have lost the mental ability to properly comprehend and manage their own financial, proprietary, and patrimonial affairs, as any agent has only the capacity of the person who has mandated them. The moment they lose that capacity, the power of attorney ceases to have legal effect.

Nothing said herein should be relied upon as legal advice. For legal advice, make an appointment with your attorney, consult fully with them and brief them on your matter in all its inherent nuances and details.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

What makes an attorney successful, or at least capable of surviving the profession?

What makes an attorney successful, or at least capable of surviving the profession?

I have written on this from several perspectives.

Success can be found in the attorney's profession, but you will fight for your dinner every night. That is a big part of what we do. We have to be capable of dealing well with the unknown and handling stress.

I could not see myself doing anything else, but unless you have the killer instinct and the ability to harm in a lawful and self controlled manner, don't become an attorney. Rather then be a legal advisor or countless other jobs.

Lawyers, who survive the profession, mostly, are cautious financially, and build what they have up over time. A lot of lawyers are broke or financially distressed, some have to close up shop, despite early successes. Those who survive are careful which matters they take, and who they permit to be their client. It is a difficult career to succeed in, and many don't. It is vital to be discerning, and create processes and capacity before taking on too many clients if you start your own firm. Firms which grow too fast often don't last.

Those who do succeed have good and bad times, as the economy rises and falls. They learn to save for bad months, and not overspend on good ones.

They take deposits, and measure how much spending and work they do for a matter before paid for work already done, and don't keep working without regular payments towards what is owed, or to be owed.

When it comes to getting a job as a candidate attorney or your first job as an attorney, academic marks and achievements mean next to nothing to 90% of firms out there. They often only care if you passed, are humble, capable and have good English communication, spelling, and grammar, and good manners. Good work experience as a candidate attorney, also matters, for your first job as an attorney.

Being polite, emotionally intelligent, thorough, and ready to find answers, instead of assuming them, are vital traits for many.

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