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What are some of the most frustrating things about your law practice?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2017 | Uncategorized

Most readers will assume that my answer would have to do more with people not paying me for services, conduct of other lawyers, Judges sometimes not seeing things “my way,” etc. But, that’s not the case! Here are some of my ongoing frustrations:
a. There is no “set” way to sign legal documents in Ohio! For example, deeds in Ohio have to be signed and notarized but not witnessed. Wills have to be signed and witnessed, but not notarized. Healthcare powers of attorney have to be either witnessed or notarized, but not both, and some people believe that it is appropriate both to witness and notarize them to minimize confusion. Many contracts have to be neither witnessed nor notarized, but for one reason or another, are witnessed or notarized or both. A living will has to be witnessed or notarized but not both. A financial, or statutory, power of attorney is supposed to be notarized but not witnessed. What this kind of thing means in the real world for me is this: if I am conducting a “signing” session for folks who are completing, for example, their estate plan, I have to be extremely vigilant to make sure that the proper witnessing, notarizing, etc., occurs. That’s not easy! Sometimes people want to have casual conversations in these detailed sessions, but I have to avoid that in an effort at making sure everything is properly executed. That gets frustrating!
b. Another really difficult thing to deal with is that lots of people for some reason believe that it is ok to withhold important information from their lawyer. All too many people also seem to think they know enough about the law to decide what the lawyer does and does not need to know. This almost always results in something negative for the client. That may be the lawyer being completely surprised by something embarrassing in the Courtroom which would have been possible to explain away, but about which the lawyer had no idea until being blasted with it in the middle of a hearing, with no ability to subpoena a witness who could disprove the item, etc. How about this one: a parent has a drug problem, the other parent knows it, but the one with the problem doesn’t want her lawyer to know because that might make the lawyer dislike her. Whether the attorney dislikes her is far less important than the fact that if the lawyer knew about the problem, he or she could deal with it head-on. Many times I have seen lawyers help clients get into recovery situations, improve their lives in the process, and actually be able to foster better relationships between parents and children. Beyond those sorts of things, this is not at all unlike a patient going into a doctor and failing to tell the doctor about chest pains or migraine headaches. A doctor can’t appropriately treat a patient without knowing the facts and that is no different for lawyers! Clients should tell their attorneys absolutely everything related to their cases no matter how uncomfortable or embarrassing. Only in that way can a lawyer be reasonably prepared to deal with those problems as they arise in Court proceedings or negotiations.