Advantage Denton

October 28, 2011

Finding a Lawyer is Scary

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , , , — Melissa Denton @ 3:48 pm
Melissa Denton

Melissa Denton

Halloween is not scary.  I’ll tell you what is really scary. Finding a lawyer. That is scary. For one thing, many people have noticed that all of us attorneys have dripping fangs and are really mean. Another factor in making us scary is that we can sue the pants off of just about anybody. We lawyers often have awful  “bedside manner”. What lawyers do is powerful, mysterious, and invisible to the normal human.  When you have one of these scary shamans doing work on your behalf, it is quite likely that you won’t want to (or be able to) understand everything they are doing for you. You have to trust them.

Here’s the news, you don’t have to venture into that dark forest of lawyer finding by yourself. The service we provide at Advantage Denton is a “head hunter” (sounds scary, right?) for the little guy. We help you by figuring out what kind of lawyer you need and then researching and finding the right lawyer for you.

“Right lawyer” includes consideration of :

  1. where the lawyer’s office should be located
  2. the areas of practice that the attorney practices in and what emphasis they place on the area of law that you need help with
  3. the level of experience of the lawyer that we believe is appropriate for the type of problem you have
  4. a check to make sure that the lawyer does not have ethical violations – it would be rare for us to get a lawyer for you who has had ethical sanctions & never without telling you fully
  5. determination of what size law firm is best going to meet your needs
  6. a review of the attorney’s advertising and other online written materials to assess their personality and focus to see if they are a good fit for you
  7. we call the right lawyer to tell them about your case and set an appointment for them to meet with you for a free 30 minute consultation

As you can see, this looks like a lot of work from a very highly qualified person for only $99. When you also consider that you are receiving a free 30 minute consultation, it seems almost scary – too good to be true. Well, this one time it works out that this is a great deal for everyone, you, the lawyer and the lawyer finder. We are very efficient at our job because we really know what we are doing. It is a very fun job, kind of like working with the birthing babies part of working in a hospital. You get connected to the right lawyer and get the right advice and help for the legal issue you face. The lawyer invests 30 minutes meeting with a client chosen for them who knows the value of legal services and already put up $99 to find the right lawyer.

Win Win Win. Now that is not so scary, is it?

January 12, 2011

New Year, New Hope

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , — Melissa Denton @ 12:54 am

Melissa DentonThe mere calendar event of changing years motivates a lot of people to resolve to have more self control. Since the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions fail, I prefer to use January as a time for more reflection and, this year, as a time to nurture hope.

We’ve been through some awfully tough times together lately. Some have been more fortunate than others but most of us have genuinely felt the pain, if only that of those around us. Crisis shows what we are made of and sometimes the picture that emerges shows which leaders you want in front of you when survival is at stake. Those who tear down, divide, take cheap shots and are insincere should be shunned as leaders. They may be only making mistakes that anyone could fall into, but risking your all on their judgment is not at all wise.

Finding the silver lining in clouds of despair is a habit of mine. It is such a useful thing to do to look at how to change a bad thing into a good thing. As a lawyer and as a lawyer finder in chief, I sincerely believe in finding the right leaders and the right lawyers. At a difficult time this right choice is a chance to creatively construct the best possible outcome from the most dismal looking circumstance. The right leadership and the right lawyer at the right time can make all the difference. Have us find the right lawyer for you.

November 15, 2010

Radical Lawyering

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , , , — Melissa Denton @ 9:57 pm

l_2048_1536_6775E997-A9BC-4951-B3C8-149F6AD1F5D5.jpegToday was a great opportunity for me. I spoke to a wonderful group of family law attorneys in Everett, Washington about One Lawyer.  Most non-lawyers are not aware that this is a radical idea, but many attorneys are horrified by the notion of a lawyer helping people on both sides of a lawsuit, even if the individuals on both sides ask to share a lawyer.

A lot of what we are taught in law school and in the school of hard knocks that follows law school is that lawyers must always focus on self defense. We are a very conservative and law abiding bunch of folk. Most lawyers don’t like to go out on a limb to explore a new idea that might carry risk to themselves.

Usually with a very prim expression and a pursed mouth, many lawyers express the opinion that one should never, never help both sides to a lawsuit. The dire consequences that must come from this are so awful and evil that they are not even described. Those consequences must include disbarment, dismemberment and bankruptcy, so sure are the naysayers of this practice.

Being a person with a more open mind (but not so open that my brain falls out), I decided to challenge this notion several years back. In 2004, I came up with the idea for One Lawyer. Since I have been trained as a mediator and as a collaborative law attorney, it seemed to me that there should be a way for folks who agree with each other to be able to hire only one attorney.

You might think that they don’t need any attorney if they agree with each other, but you would be thinking wrong. Having a lawyer help you both understand the legal rules about all the agreements you believe you have reached and point out any gaping holes or errors in logic is extremely valuable when all of your assets, all of your debts and your relationships with children are at issue. When you hire only one lawyer to help both of you, there is no worry about the other person’s lawyer telling them some sneaky secret tactic that will disadvantage you.

When you use One Lawyer, you both hear the good, the bad and the ugly of both sides of your case at the same time. You go into the decision making from a position of knowledge and power that is equal for both of you. Without a lawyer involved, you are the blind leading the blind (even if you are well meaning blind folk, this is a mission where you need someone seeing the whole picture to help you). One of the best things that One Lawyer brings to you is the paperwork being written up correctly in a way that actually accomplishes what you intended to accomplish. When non-lawyers write court documents up, they often end up with unintended results.

The lawyers I spoke to today were, without exception, gracious and willing to engage in open discussion about this radical idea. Self protection/nothing new fear was not pervasive. Sure, we had some challenging discussions about rules of professional conduct and about malpractice liability insurance, but it was a productive and supportive discussion.

I am grateful for the lawyers who are willing to give this idea consideration. People who don’t want to hire lawyers because they want less expense, less fear of the other person’s lawyer, and not to be mean by hiring a lawyer are far better off with One Lawyer than they are with no lawyers. A primary reason that Advantage Denton was created was so that we can find the right lawyer to provide you with One Lawyer services. Let us know if we can find the right lawyer for you.

November 8, 2010

Resenting Big Lawyer Bills

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , , — Melissa Denton @ 4:00 pm

Melissa Denton

This weekend, I reviewed a bill for legal services provided by an out of state law firm for routine work performed on my friend’s deceased father’s estate. Like him, I was shocked at the bill for $21,000 for one month’s services. The issues being dealt with were worth less than this attorney’s bill.

It is really obvious to me why people resent lawyers so much. The bill was a mystery and included charges for services not requested, explained or understood. Apparently, no cost/benefit analysis was performed or discussed before spending vast numbers of hours on a very simple business formation with a minimal expected return.

This type of experience is why I created Advantage Denton. It is very distressing when good folk who are just trying to do things right are afraid to challenge the far away attorney who appears to be gouging them. They are very reluctant to send an email or call because they will get a huge charge every time they contact the lawyer. Then the huge expense happens because they did not keep the lawyer informed…

While we can not absolutely guarantee that each lawyer we find will be perfectly acceptable, Advantage Denton lawyer finders are trained to find you the type of attorney we would want to hire for ourselves or our family member, if they were in your situation. We find the right lawyer because we know where to find information on attorneys and we know how to interpret and apply that information to your needs.

As an attorney, I apologize for the lawyers who are charging outrageous amounts of money for little service with poor explanations. I recommend that clients not be afraid of their attorneys and that clients talk openly and respectfully with the lawyer about any charges they don’t understand. In my opinion, lawyers should not charge you for time discussing billing matters. You are the most important team member on your legal case. Do take your responsibility to participate seriously. If your lawyer is not treating you right, go get a better one. We will help you.

August 9, 2010

Breaking Up & Breaking Out Finances (etc)

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , , , — Melissa Denton @ 11:15 pm

Melissa DentonI recently had it brought home to me in vivid color that not every lawyer gives some essential advice to new clients who are going through a break-up of their relationship. Suzie (not real name) has already spent six months of divorce proceedings as the client of another lawyer who had done some business transaction work for family members. Suzie has been very frustrated. She feels that her attorney allowed the other lawyer to waste a lot of time and money writing nasty letters to her attorney that hurt her feelings and accomplished nothing.

Suzie told me about the income that she and her husband have, about the property they have accumulated, and about the debts. It was surprising to me when she said that her husband had run up the debt a lot more on their credit cards after she left the home and family business.

As I told Suzie, when you have a marriage or partnership (personal or business) and that relationship is ending, it is time IMMEDIATELY to calmly and kindly arrange your business affairs so that the two former partners are no longer able to incur additional debt for which the other person will be liable. The relationships with external creditors which were formed when you were together are not suddenly or automatically altered because partners/spouses separated or filed legal papers to dissolve their relationship.

Sometimes, circumstances exist where it is appropriate to keep a credit card or line of credit open and available to the other person, but most of the time it is a very smart and appropriate idea to inform creditors – by certified mail, keep a copy – that the account must be split out into two names or closed as to all future extensions of credit. This goes for household bills, credit cards, cell phone bills, lines of credit and any other way that two former partners had authority to incur debt in the other person’s name. The former partner should always be informed in a timely way so that they can make arrangements to get credit or service in their name to avoid interruptions in service or embarrassment upon rejection of a credit card. This notification does not remove responsibility for past debt, but should halt future unauthorized debt being incurred.

In our state, divorce law will make Suzie’s husband responsible for the debt he ran up after separation. Suzie, however, is at risk of these creditors coming after her if he fails to pay. Her credit will be harmed if he pays late. It would have been much better if he had not had her name on the debts he has been incurring while divorce has been going on.

A couple of other things to be aware of when going through a separation are: 1. It is important to get the right lawyer for your needs. Advantage Denton searches for and finds the right lawyer for you. Have us find the right lawyer for you. and 2. Be sure that you change passwords to voice mail, email, and other bank/business/internet accounts so that each of the former partners has their privacy. If there are ill feelings and concerns about possible mischief, it does not hurt anything to put passwords on utility accounts and the like so that no one cuts off your electricity.

July 19, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , , , — Melissa Denton @ 9:10 am

Most disgracefully, I have failed to update this blog for almost two months. This is insufferable, intolerable, terrible, unforgivable and altogether inconceivable. How could any person commit an act so heinous, so vile, so beyond contempt? Well, it wasn’t easy.

The reason I have used such strong language is so that I can illustrate a point about self abnegation. This phenomenon of negating the self is something I see far too often. People involved in controversy find it hard to keep a balanced perspective. Much of their energy is spent on blaming themselves or, even less productively, on blaming others for the current set of circumstances.

While it is fun and funny to me to come up with a lot of words that I don’t mean about my blogging lapse, it is not funny to me when clients or other lawyers play the blame game and wound with words. Attorneys have a special duty to bring perspective to problems. We need to help clients move away from pain inducing practices. In my humble opinion, the lawyer who makes the client feel worse about him or her self is failing in the primary goal of litigation: coming out the other side with as much positive and as little damage as is possible.

Why did I fail to write in my blog for so long? Part of my reason is exotic — I was in China, Malaysia and Singapore for some weeks. I also bought and moved into new offices and found myself using my new iPad instead of the laptop I was used to blogging on. Now, the iPad has a blogging application and my excuses are over. I will write about China soon, but in the meantime I am going to continue to contemplate mean language and how to decrease the demeaning types of activities I see going on around me.

April 12, 2010

Las Vegas, baby

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Melissa Denton @ 2:42 pm

Melissa DentonI just returned from the culture shock that is Las Vegas. This was our first time to visit that place and perhaps our last, though it was really interesting. Right before Las Vegas, we took a few days to visit Zion National Park and a lovely smaller state park called Snow Canyon in St. George, Utah.

The canyons and physical structures of nature were huge and awe inspiring. The casinos and physical structures in Las Vegas were huge and awe inspiring. Nature was majestic; casinos were less so. The air quality was sure better in nature. Since I don’t smoke, drink, gamble, stay up late, or participate in some of the other adventures available in Las Vegas, one could say it was wasted on me. I did like seeing the spectacles once as an education. My 10 year old boy also seemed to get an education, but it will be interesting to see what kind of education over the long run.

One thing I noticed in Las Vegas was the billboards advertising legal services. Several of them offered to go to traffic court for you or to help you if you had been in an accident. I have not researched those lawyers (if lawyers were really involved, since none were apparent). I am guessing that calling a number off of a billboard is one of the worst ways you could find an attorney.

If an attorney is good at what they do, they do not need to advertise on billboards. If they care about their professional reputation, they are unlikely to associate themselves with billboard advertising. If they don’t care about their reputation, why would they care about the needs of clients? It would be interesting to see a researched book or news article about the folks who put up the biggest and tackiest ads and the quality of work that they do.

Maybe my perception is wrong that they would not care about client needs and wants. I doubt it, though. Such lawyers have to funnel a really large number of cases or some really big dollar cases through just to pay for the ad. When you run a high volume mill, it seems to me that it is harder to provide personalized quality work for individual client needs.

If you need a lawyer, you would be much wiser to use a lawyer finder from Advantage Denton than you would be to hire a lawyer because they paid for a billboard or the biggest advertisement. Advantage Denton saves you money up front by getting that first half hour interview with the lawyer for free and we save you far more from anguish and overspending when we get the right lawyer for you.

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