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Knowledge Is Power

Words from a trusted & experienced attorney in Metuchen, Edison, South Plainfield & Woodbridge, NJ

Knowledge Is Power

What To Expect When You Call

We're tough. When you call, a live person takes your call. There are no prompts to wade through. Most of the time you talk with an attorney on your first call. You have questions, but before we can answer your questions, free of charge and without obligation, we need to gather facts.

We're experienced. We know what questions to ask and which answers lead most often to a successful outcome. We cut to the chase. In a free, no obligation telephone call, we cannot allow a caller to tell us their story from the beginning. We cannot allow a caller to tell us what he or she feels is important. We've tried cases from start to finish. We've won and we've lost.

When you call and reach an attorney, expect to be grilled. Expect to answer the questions we ask; not the ones you want us to ask. This gets us in trouble once in a while. We recently were handed a poor review by a caller whom we upset upon grilling her with the tough questions we needed to insist she answer. She grew upset with us and hung up. We later heard from her by way of an unfavorable review. Hindsight teaches us not to pander to what our clients may want to tell us, but to better explain why we insist on straight answers only to the questions we ask.

The question most have difficulty with when relating problems they have concerning the Lemon Law is, "What is the most substantial problem you are having today?" Most callers stumble, as they feel the need to tell us how they've taken their car for service endless times and what they experienced as they went through the process. We need a specific and pointed description of the most substantial current problem to answer the legal question for us, "Is your car right now, today, substantially impaired in use, value, or safety?" If we don't have a car presently substantially impaired, then the odds are we're looking at a losing case - one for which neither a judge nor jury may feel a sense of injustice. We want to be up front with you from the start. We don't want to tell you what a great case you have and how well we can do for you only to later tell you how your case collapsed and you should settle it.

The most common call we get from clients who filed their cases with other lawyers is they find themselves in a position their current lawyer is telling him or her to settle their case, as it's a weak case, not likely to prevail after trial. This is a business model some law firms churning lots of cases follow. Everything up front sounds great. Services may be "free." But when it comes time to go to trial, the law firm suddenly counsels you to settle your case. Sometimes the pressure is intimidating.

We try hard to avoid telling you your case is a good one if, right from the start, we are able to determine it's frought with problems. Clients don't like being told they made tactical errors or misjudgments in handling their case early on. Clients try to shade the facts to present a good case. We take the position give us the facts and get good advice. Give us bad facts and get bad advice. We also tell our callers, tell us the truth, and get our opinion. If you don't like our advice, call another lawyer and tell him what you want to him or her to know, and get the legal advice you want to hear. Then, decide which lawyer you want to go with.

Anyway, be prepared to be grilled and given straight tough talk. We don't lie to a client. We don't over-assess or inflate a caller's case to earn their business. My most recent caller complains he relied upon his bank when crediting him with a deposit but taking it back a week or more later when the bank learned the cashier's check was fraudulent. Our caller was unhappy learning federal law places most of the onus on the account holder; not on the bank for detecting a fraudulent cashier's check. Federal regulations place the burden on collecting the money from the criminal; not the bank. As a result of an initial phone call, our caller thought he was better served by an attorney who told him he had a strong case. The point is, he was unhappy with us for our opinion.

Understand when you call, you will get the cold hard truth, provided you give us the cold hard truth. If you don't like it, find another lawyer who listens to what you want to relate and who tells you what you want to hear. We try to provide excellence. We demand excellence. Sometimes, we offend. We apologize and probably could do better with a more compassionate bedside manner. Problem is, we choose to take every call and don't put a clock on those first free telephone consultations. It costs us dearly in time and now, even a dissatisfied caller.

The Truth Will Set You Free:

why it's so important to be transparent with your attorney

This advice may sound unconventional or unusual, but it holds great weight for any individual, no matter their status or situation.
It’s quite short and simple, it’s a wonder schoolboys aren't shouting it at recess.
“Tell your lawyer the truth.” Feed him bad facts and in turn, you will receive bad advice. Trust him and share the honest facts
and in turn, you will receive honest and good advice. Bad facts will get you nothing but bad advice.
The worst that could happen when you offer complete transparency to your attorney is disliking his advice. If you dislike their advice, just go to another attorney and tell him a different story in hopes of getting what you seek.
 Get the advice you want, and take your chances...
Remember, good facts warrant good advice, bad facts warrant bad advice.

Bankruptcy Stops Garnishments & Bank Levies

Never spend retirement assets to pay bills, because you are too ashamed or embarrassed to speak with an attorney on the telephone. Stop wage garnishments and bank levies. Call me. There's no charge for your call, and your secrets are privileged communications. There are few things we love more than getting even with creditors and their arrogant lawyers. Call me and tell me you're from central New Jersey! 732.494.0400.

On Buying A Franchise

Unless you can afford to buy McDonald's, Burger King, Dunkin', etc., you are almost certainly going to lose your money and be completely disillusioned. First and foremost, you need to understand the real money is in selling the franchise; not in operating one.

Secondly, buying a franchise is not a consumer purchase. Laws and regulations protecting you are few, and the laws are not self-executing, meaning you need a lawyer to enforce your rights once you buy the franchise. Just because the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has regulations doesn't mean the franchisor will follow them. The laws and regulations mean nothing unless you have the money to pay a lawyer to enforce them. The answer is don't buy the franchise if you can't afford to pay a lawyer and a CPA to protect you. No franchisor draws a franchise agreement which is fair to itself AND its franchisee. And, if you sign a business deal, the law will treat you no differently than if you were Microsoft or Apple. That is, you are expected to read, understand and negotiate your deal. The law will not treat you as a consumer having done business with a large company. If you sign a contract of "adhesion," you will be held to it.

Thirdly, any royalty you pay comes from what would have been your profit. This puts you at an immediate financial and competitive price disadvantage to the true self-employed entrepreneur. Consider how much more expensive it is to eat at a chain restaurant than a locally owned one, and how much more "corporate" food is at a chain. Your products and/or services will cost more, unless it's an "enterprise" business of scale.

You will be required to buy products, services, promotions, advertising, equipment, and supplies from your franchisor, often at marked up exorbitant prices again putting you at a disadvantage.

This is only a speck or dot of information. You need to know what you are buying, for how long and for how much; are you personally liable or is only your company liable for debt? Are you free to relocate? Sell? Will the franchisor be competing with you? Can it dilute your territory? Raise the royalty? Assess additional charges? Charge you for its legal fees? Protect you against patent and copyright infringement? Drive business to or away from you? Allow you to pass the franchise down to your children?

Have you personally spoken with other franchisees? Inspected their books? Checked for lawsuits? Ratings and reviews? Worked at another franchise operator's location? Put together a spreadsheet of income and overhead? Do you know the cost of acquiring a customer or client?
Do you know how many sales you must have a day or a week just to stay in business?

Most franchise buyers lose everything. They sign anything put in front of them without the benefit of a lawyer, a CPA, or even business classes. With how many franchisees have you spoken? How many lawyers have you called? How many CPAs have you called?

It would take me 3-5 hours to finish this mini-article. Before you spend one dollar, talk to 20 people who've purchased franchises. It's free.