Business and Friendships. Different Things.

An Aphorism or Two. Dangers For Experts in Being “Helpful” for “Friends”

“The Lawyer who acts for himself has a fool for a client”. A well-known aphorism, among Lawyers.

Meaning, when you act professionally for your paying clients, you are being paid to review your client’s case unemotionally and, with clear-sighted detachment, interpret and apply the complicated provisions of the relevant statutes and case law to the particular problem.

But when you act for yourself, you are the last person in the world who can do that, so don’t even think about it.

There should be another aphorism – “the professional person who does a favour for his best mate won’t have a best mate for long.”

If my best mate has a restaurant I don’t expect to eat free food there. But, how often does a Lawyer get asked by a pal “Can you just have a quick look at ……. – this lease – this summons – this power of Attorney”?

A quick look? Just “scan through it, check it’s alright” That’s what they say. Not what they mean of course.

They mean, “Drop everything else”. They mean, “Consider my document/problem carefully and thoroughly and be aware that I shall rely entirely upon you having done so and never forgive you if you give me the wrong answer”.

And, they mean, – “Because I used the expression “have a quick look” I do not see any reason to pay you.”

Doctors will know exactly what I mean. Man at dinner party finds out you are a medic – “Could you just have a quick look at this mole”. Interpretation – “I think I have cancer but I can’t be bothered to take time off work to find out”.

Here is a recent case which may be worth bearing in the forefront of your mind if ever a relative, friend, neighbour or man at a dinner party or, for that matter, man at a bus stop asks you for your help as a personal favour.

It clearly underlines that when A, who is an expert, gives advice to B [who has requested that advice from A only because A is an expert] then B will not only not pay A, but will sue A if he loses money by taking the advice. And worse, B will win. And there goes a lovely friendship and (worse?) many thousands of pounds.

The Link is here.

So if you need an excuse, next time your old school friend asks you to “cast a quick eye” over his business tenancy agreement, tell him Chris says not to!

Or better tell him, “Make an appointment, come to my office, and we can agree a contract for my services on a proper professional basis.”

Otherwise you could be saying, like Bob, “All the friends I ever had are gone”. Link here

Please do contact me whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents [but let’s keep it professional eh] – at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

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