Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 2, 1974 · Page 90
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 90

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 2, 1974
Page 90
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Page 90 article text (OCR)

Don't Be Afraid of a Lawyer Bv Stanlev Jacobs To the average man who has never consulted an attorney, legal fees and procedures are deep mysteries he'll do without, thank you. Indeed, lawyers themselves are seriously concerned about the public's misconceptions concerning their fees, ethics, and procedures. A Los Angeles attorney, Earl E. Howard, overheard a conversation in a restaurant which at first angered him, then led to a forward step for that city's legal profession. A diner at the next table said: "I think I'll see a lawyer about the matter." "A lawyer?" retorted his companion." Stay away frtfm those guys! They'll take the shirt right off your back." Though at first he was irate about the crack, Howard did some hard thinking. If this is a commonly held attitude, he reflected, it is high time to change the erroneous notion. "Let's suggest to our members that they frankly discuss fees in advance with prospective clients, instead of keeping them in the dark about charges!" he urged the Hollywood Bar Assn. Fellow attorneys thought so well of his proposal that the association adopted a resolution urging its members to provide fee estimates in advance. The association now distributes an e a s y - t o - u n d e r s t a n d fee schedule which any prospective client may consult. The idea is catching on elsewhere. But, too many people are hurting themselves and their pocketbooks by clinging to scary ideas about lawyers and their costs. Here are examples: ... ... In the e x p l o s i o n of an ammunition dump, fiye soldiers were severely injured and spent many months in hospitals with a wide variety of wounds. Of the five men, only one consulted a lawyer. He was the ONLY victim to receive financial recompense for his serious disability. He got $25,000. None of the others collected a penny. The other four men -- equally disabled -- had a dread of seeing a lawyer or "going to court". They preferred to wait for Uncle Sam to come around with a settlement check in his hand. But Uncle Sam never came and they waited too long. They didn't know that after a full year's retirement from service, suit cannot be instituted for injuries received in the Armed Forces. Any lawyer could have informed the injured soldiers of their rights and the need for filing a claim before the time limit expired. · Trying to handle legal matters by yourself is as risky as groping blindly in the dark for a vial of unlabeled pills. A New York man found this out the hard way when his car was rammed from behind by a c i t y - o w n e d truck. This car owner, instead of seeing an attorney, spent a leisurely three m o n t h s assembling the names and addresses of witnesses. All swore he had been parked legally at the curb when the city vehicle careened into his machine. When he had his information, he went to the city claims office. "I had $800 worth of repairs done on my car and I think that New York City should reimburse me!" he said. "You're quite right," said the city man, "but there's a law on the books which stipulates that any claim against the municipality must be presented within 60 days. Otherwise you're out of luck,' despite the merits of the claim!" These are s o m e w h a t ·graphic illustrations of the average person's reluctance, to consult an attorney except in dire trouble or when it may be too late. Like your family doctor, a conscientious lawyer works best when consulted in ample time. "People have been educated to see their physician once a year for a checkup," observes a prominent attorney. "But not one man in a hundred will consult his lawyer p e r i o d i c a l l y , even though his financial circumstances, legal responsibilities, debts, assets, and stock holdings may have changed drastically in one year's time. Actually discussing your affairs with your attorney is the cheapest form of insurance; it can save you thousands of dollars, give your family a sense of security, and enable you to make business and professional plans with a clear mind!'.' Today's leaders of the bar are trying to. set aright the prejudices against lawyers and their profession. Responsible attorneys deplore ambulance-chasing, high- pressure tactics, unethical advertising, and other practices on the part of a few who give the whole profession an undeserved black eye. ». Fortunately, the American Bar Assn. has developed an unusual "Lawyer Reference Plan" which can save you time, money, and heartache if you have a problem which may require legal action. Under the plan, an attorney to whom the local bar association sends you will advise you if you really need a lawyer. Many people think they do -- but don't! Others, equally certain they can handle their own affairs, may find that top legal counsel is what they need in the greatest possible hurry. For a modest charge, or none at all, a referral service attorney in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and 30-odd other cities will analyze your problem and tell you if you need additional legal services. He'll also tell you approximately what it will'cost. You may retain him or another attorney. If any subsequent argument ensues over legal fees, the bar association will arbitrate the charges. In a single year this referral plan in New York City gave 3,600 sorely troubled persons sound advice at no cost. In addition, 1,500 other persons were referred to attorneys for specialized services. Seven hundred of these clients settled their affairs for as little as $5 for a single consultation. Said a widow who had been steered away from a highly unethical investment plan: "I thought that my three visits to a lawyer would cost me at least $100. To my surprise his total charge was only $25 -- and he saved me from a foolish gamble that could have cost me the $7,000 left to me by my husband." »· In time, the American Bar Assn. hopes to have a referral plan operating in every city of 100,000 population or larger. This will bring legal advice at sensible, predetermined costs within the reach of 75 per cent of American people. Meanwhile you might review your own prospects of staying out of difficulties that may require the services of an a t t o r n e y . If you're like most of us, the chances are 100 to 1 against your ever appearing in criminal court. On the other hand, even the most dutiful citizen -who shows every respect for the law -- may unwittingly run afoul of it. A child's carelessly discarded roller skate may bring you before a jury in a damage suit. Or your dog may nip a neighbor, who retaliates by sinking his own fangs into you via a legal summons! If you own your home, you have many legal responsibilities that may never have occurred to you. Persons injured on your property in certain circumstances may have substantial claims against you. If your agent -your office boy, maid, or employee -- hurts others in the course of carrying out an assignment for you, the re- s p o n s i b i l i t y may rest squarely on your shoulders. Only an attorney may inform you of such obligations and how to prepare for them, by insurance or other means. Laws v a r y f r o m state to state. You may take out an insurance policy for your home or business that, though adequate in your home state, may prove to be wrong for you should you move beyond its borders. »· The rapid growth of unscrupulous "credit" stores may propel you into debts you never envisioned. Says a father of five who never in his life had consulted a lawyer: "We b o u g h t on time a washing machine that was f a u l t y from the start. The store did not live up to the guarantee or make any adjustment on our bill. After we paid in almost $300, we PURIFYING- WATER -- NeV£R. DRIHK wilderness water 'Without purifying it. A stream may look, dear, yet Were may be- anything from a dead animal to a Chemical plant upstream. Even water bubbling from springs may be. polluted by seepage.. Don't take the chance.! Regard less of where, or how .you find water, purify it - this includes ice, and snow. Water used-for cooking and washing utensils should also bpurified. Good Earth Almanac THE WATER. W£PRINK. INOUR CfTIES is purified by the. addition oP chemicals such as chlorine.. Water in the woods may be, purified in the sam manner by adding hatazone. tablets to the water. (These, tablets areavailable. fromyour local drug store and must be. used according to instructions.) "Tincture, of iodine, may also be. used topuriFy water, Adda couple of drops to a quart oF water and wait about 45 minutes. Of you can use iodine, tablets suctias those, used lytharmy. This is the only kind oPpurification tablet guaranteed effective in the, tropics. Probably the. easiest method for the, outdoors/nan is simply to boil the. water to kin any bacteria. Water must be- boiled at least 10 minutes, longer in higher altitudes. ©1974 UNIVERSAL PR6SS SYNDICATE had to junk the appliance on which we still owed $30. "The store threatened suit and we paid the $30 -- plus $25 for so-called 'collection charges'. Later I learned from my boss that if I had consulted an attorney when we first got into trouble with the store, he would have demanded an adjustment on the bill or a replacement of the machine, for a legal fee not exceeding $20 or $25!" "How can 1 find a good lawyer?" This question is frequently asked by men and women who want to be certain they end up with an ethical, competent attorney. Like the family doctor, a good lawyer usually is recommended by others. Only a card announcement in a directory, or a listing in the classified phone book, is permitted him by his bar association. So one wise source would be to ask your banker, insurance broker, or a businessman you respect what lawyer he would recommend. If you do see a lawyer for any purpose whatsoever, be perfectly frank and honest with him. Don't evade or conceal any facts. Like your doctor, he is sworn to confidence and, in his professional role, is entitled to full information about your case or problem. It is in the disposal of your earthly possessions that you are most likely to bump up against legal complications. Making a will without an attorney is hazardous. Technically, it is possible to write a "holographic", or hand- w r i t t e n , t e s t a m e n t a n d make it stick in court. But lawyers estimate that almost 70 per cent of self- drawn wills are faulty and contested. For as little as $30 you can get a simple, airtight will drawn which conforms to the laws of your own state. Remember, too, that in your desire to be charitable in making bequests, your own lawyer can be of great help. You can thus be certain that the beneficiaries of your choice will receive the sums you designate. In fact, most lawyers today advise their clients, upon request, how to make adequate benefactions to educational institutions, to churches, and for kindred religious purposes. Remember, a lawyer will not bite you. You can save time, money, and mental anguish by trusting him. Having an understanding attorney is not only good business, it is a necessity for every family which regards the prudent management of its affairs as an obligation to itself and to its fellow-men! 6m CHARLESTON. W. VA. -Amp 2. 1974 Sundciv Gazette-Mail

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