- DIY Brain Surgery
I’m looking for a cheap brain surgeon. Actually he or she doesn’t have to be a brain surgeon–a secretary that works in the office of a brain surgeon would probably do–after all, I only need minor surgery.
Ok, first off–I don’t really need brain surgery. (There are surely some who would disagree with that statement!) But I’m going to ask you to consider your reaction to that opening paragraph. I suspect it sounds a bit ludicrous to you.
And yet this is exactly the sort of decision people are making everyday where any number of professions are concerned. Nobody wants to pay for the help they need–first of all the help isn’t really THAT much and second it’s too expensive.
Just recently I received an email that began, “If you are still in the real estate business we would like to mention your services on our website. Our site is an informational website about real estate deeds and many of our users are in need of real estate services…”
I visited the site. While the site appears to be “informational,” it actually is commercial–a sort of “do it yourself by filling in a standard form to create your own deed” site. There is some information there–some good general information and, of course, you can purchase “guidelines for filling out” the blank form you can also purchase. As an instructor (not pretending to be an attorney) I found the information too general and in some cases misleading–one reason I’m not giving the link here and also did not list my services on the site.
A bit oversimplified, but I like to think I’m in the business of helping people make wise choices. Making a choice based solely on cost is typically not a wise choice. In this business of real estate I find myself way too often in the position of “fixing” problems that were created by a desire to “save money”–particularly where an attorney’s service is indicated. I had one case, for example, where I was contacted to list and sell a property that had been the subject of “do it yourself” deed writing. When I started my research, it turned out the seller did not appear to actually (legally) own the property. The story at least has a happy ending–after two years of working with a real practicing attorney the title was cleared and we were able to list and sell the property.
I won’t ask you to like the system, but we have to live with it. When you find yourself tempted to ask your friend who works in an attorney’s office for advice, you might think about brain surgery done by the surgeon’s secretary. Or, try this exercise I use with students who are tempted to take the business of law (and filling out paperwork) lightly. Google “million dollar contract comma.” It’s a Canadian case–the United States doesn’t have a monopoly on complicated legal language–that demonstrates the placement of a comma in a contract made a million dollar difference in it’s interpretation.
Missing commas and a slip of the scalpel. How much risk should you take?