3 Reasons Lawyers Say “It Depends”
A (be)Wilderness Guide To Lawyers
In order for this relationship to work – between blogger and bloggee (it’s a word now) – we have to be able to be honest with each other. Most people have had this experience: you ask a lawyer a very simple question and they say “well, it depends.” What the h-e-? Why am I paying $XXXXXXXX only for you to give me that empty shell of an answer? Is that what they taught you at your insanely expensive, debt-generating school?
1. Because it does
I promise, most of the time there’s a really good reason for this response. Lawyers say “it depends” because…please don’t hate me…it really does depend. We all want a straight answer to our very simple question. It’s not a political debate, for goodness sake. You are looking for a clear choice when you ask a lawyer, “what’s better, an LLC or a corporation?” When you want to know if your contract with that new malt vendor will protect you, you want to hear one word: “Yes!
2. Lawyers like precision
The law can be complex and no one situation is identical to another. Just as we are all unique, despite most Californians penchant for great jeans and overpriced flip-flops, so are our legal needs.
When you ask your attorney if an LLC or a corporation is better, she will tell you it depends because giving a simple answer would be sloppy and fails to consider the many nuances. The answer will change based on the number of owners in the business, the amount of capital to be contributed, the company’s industry and product/service, its short and long-term goals, and many more factors. Saying that most businesses prefer the LLC form would be ignoring your and your company’s individuality.
3. Some of them actually care
Your lawyer tends to have your best interest at heart, so she will give you a very involved, thorough answer to make sure you know and understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into. My worst nightmare is sending my client into the lion’s den (a.k.a. the business world) uninformed and oblivious.
Your business is probably one of the most, if not the most, important thing in your life. Imagine if you didn’t know the potential risks in your malt vendor agreement. What if your lawyer didn’t tell you that whether or not you’re protected depends on your own performance? If you don’t provide payment as it is written in the agreement, then you stand to breach the agreement. Or, there may be a force majeure clause giving your vendor an out in case of uncooperative weather that adversely affects the quality of the barley. Don’t you deserve an answer that will prepare you?
Being blindsided because you had no clue what was in your contract is not only incredibly disruptive to your business but it also feels like garbage. Speaking of garbage, why does Sesame Street teach kinds that it’s okay to live in garbage cans? I guess I should be championing individuality. Do you love trash? Apparently, it’s alright.
Well, you get the idea. Undoubtedly, it can be annoying to hear “it depends” – I even feel bad when I have to say it – but hopefully you are annoyed but grateful for it. You’re grannoyed. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Just remember: it really does depend, your lawyer likes precision, and she actually cares about you. It’s as simple as your question.