I am not asking because I think you did something wrong. You see, not that long ago I remember a conversation between two acquaintances. We were talking about my trials and tribulations in law school, and one of them said, “I don’t even know any lawyers.” To which the other replied, “You must not have any problems.” Tisk tisk. If only they knew, the law is here to help us too.
I can understand though. I remember as a child, I always wanted to be a surgeon. I think that like most little boys, the idea of being a mad-scientist intrigued. Throughout school, I always made the best grades, but, as I took on the features of a man (which was early on—I had a beard by like 14), people began to treat me differently. In particular, I was often pulled over and told that fit a description of someone who had committed a crime. Of course, at this point, a search of my vehicle, and sometimes my citizenship, was in order. I never found out who was that evil doppelganger committing crimes all over Texas, but those situations were humiliating to say the least. I think around that time I had settled on becoming an attorney, so that I could secure my own rights if not someone else.
But I learned that there are many ways the law can serve us; we do not always have to be on the defensive! For example, do you know a small business owner, such as a restaurateur, laundromat owner, or maybe someone who runs a bodega? Suppose this person wants to expand the business—start up new locations and increase services. He or she may want to talk to an attorney about incorporating the business in order to protect themselves from liability, establish a leadership structure that will extend beyond their own management should they want to move on, and ensure that the business’s finances remain separate from their own. Perhaps you are a community activist and are beginning to see some success in the way of fund-raising. It may be time for you to seek non-profit status from the IRS; it not only will protect your funds used for charity, but also will increase the reputability of the organization. Maybe you have a risky business idea, but you know that you and a partner can make it happen—please protect your interests by establishing a formal partnership. You can limit your liability to the investment you make in the business and delineate each partner’s rights and responsibilities. This is not just a commercial for lawyers— the headache you’ll save later is actually worth the few bucks you’ll pay us for pushing paper.
In the end, I think that business people and community activists are superior to lawyers in terms of occupation. You all help people eat by creating jobs and awareness. But, the law can help you do that even better. So hey you with barbershop, or the graphic design business! Don’t hesitate to consult an attorney when you need to expand; you have what it takes to be the best at what you do and the law is here to help!
by Julio Colon