If you have not worked with lawyers before or have had some prior bad experiences, you may be uncomfortable working with lawyers. You may see them as intimidating, untrustworthy, or “out to get you.” Unfortunately for many wonderful lawyers, popular culture gives all lawyers a bad rap.
Here are some strategies you can use to confront any concerns you might have about working with lawyers.
Invest In Legal Planning To Protect Your Business and Avoid Wasting Money
A common opinion among many farmers is that the legal issues can wait because there are many to-dos and expenditures that are a greater priority for the business. The reality, however, is that a small legal investment up front often results in greater savings and less financial/emotional harm down the line than waiting until a legal problem gets really bad.
A classic example of a farmer realizing significant savings by investing in legal services up front is hiring a lawyer to write or review a farm lease. For purposes of this example, let’s say it costs $1,500 for the lawyer to draft the lease. The benefit of a lawyer writing the lease is that the lawyer can write the lease most favorably to the farmer and can do so in a way that protects the farmer from possible bad future events, like an eviction.
Without a well-drafted lease, the farmer will be at a disadvantage fighting against eviction or any other dispute that may arise. It will cost far more for a lawyer to work on your behalf without any lease or with a poorly-drafted lease than if the farmer had a good lease that more adequately protected them in the first place.
In short, consider that paying for legal costs up front is like paying for any other business requirement, such as an insurance premium. You are making a small up-front investment to lower potential future costs.
The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems is an initiative of Vermont Law School, and this toolkit provides general legal information for educational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute, and should not be relied upon, for legal advice. Each farmer’s circumstances are unique, state laws vary, and the information contained herein is specific to the time of publication. Accordingly, for legal advice, please consult an attorney licensed in your state.