It is a trite statistic that more than 95% of all start-ups will fail within 5 years.
Of the remaining 5% another 80% will fail over 10 years. That means your business have a 1 in 100 change to make it.
What big business knows that small business doesn’t.
Whatever you may think of lawyers (advocates, attorneys, legal advisors),
they are great at limiting risk. They can do this consistently because
lawyers are great at determining the field of play, and at defining the rules of
engagement. Business people, on the other hand are great at…, well business!
Since the two disciplines requires vastly different paradigms and skill sets you will not usually find that combination in one person. It is a rare and powerful thing when business people and legal people act in concert.
Powerful businesses are powerful because on average their agreements are better; their structures are better and most importantly they consistently make better decisions than everyone else. The secret of their success is simple – they only make decisions where they know beforehand what the results are likely to be. They are successful because they make informed decisions in conjunction with their legal advisors. Most importantly, they do this without their opponents even realising that the dice are loaded.
Let me illustrate:
Choose any number. Double it. Add 10 to it. Now half the number.
Then subtract your first number.
The answer is 5 isn’t it?
How do I know this? Because the answer will always be 5 no matter what number you choose. Your freedom of choice was an illusion. The “game was rigged” from the start.
This is the big secret you do not find in the success manuals or the memoirs of billionaires. Big business knows that success is a team effort. They know that proper legal advice is an essential component “to get what you want” and/or “keep what you have”. They also know that their figureheads are not as clever as the general public perceive. Their CEO’s and directors are simply clever enough to ask more and better questions of their advisors.
Why no-one asks for advice
You and your staff make decisions every day - some big, some small. Many decisions are made with knowledge; others are at best an educated guess and at worst, a shot in the dark. Due to ignorance or time pressures bad decisions are sometimes made that in time could cost you dearly. The sad reality is that the damage could have been avoided if timely and expedient Legal Advice was sought.
In my many years as an advocate I often wondered why this is. When I asked these embattled business clients why they did not ask advice beforehand when simple solutions could have avoided litigation, their five main responses were:
“Attorneys are expensive and I did not want to spend money on advice.”
“I didn’t think of it at the time”;
“I needed advice quickly and lawyers are simply not willing to do anything quickly”. (A lawyer would usually require you to make an appointment, tell him the whole story, bring in all the requisite documents, then mull it over and come back to you a couple of days later.);
“I did not have the liberty to call my lawyer to ask for advice.”;
“I did not think it to be important enough to get advice on.”
Cause and Effect
All decisions, no matter how small, have consequences – some desirable, some less so, and some utterly disastrous. This is so because every decision sets consequences in motion; and while we have much control over our decisions, we unfortunately have little or no control over the consequences. For example, you can choose to smoke, (a bad decision) you cannot however choose whether you will get cancer.
What a business needs is the ability to increase the consistency by which predictable results can be achieved.
MAB Legal Consultant was born out of the realisation that better informed clients will make better informed decisions, and better informed decisions, will reduce uncertainty which will reduce risk, and a reduction in risk, will increase the bottom line.
Timely and/or good advice is worth more than the sum of its parts and may well mean the difference between sailing or sinking.
On call Legal Department
The legal landscape has become hideously complex. Bigger companies have departments advising them on statutory compliance, corporate governance, contractual issues, human resources and many other aspects. Unfortunately, small to medium enterprises do not have the resources or perceived operational need to justify the creation of such departments. And quite frankly, a full-time department may not be required; it does not however mean that your business is not in need of such services, it is. A full-time legal department may be too expensive, but at the very least the ability to pick up a phone or send an email and obtain advice or a suitable solution is very much needed. Think of us as your on-call legal department or simply a sounding board if you prefer.
Pro-active application of law
MAB Legal Consult is premised on the idea that the law should be applied pro-actively. We apply the law by guiding you to make decisions which results are predictable or determinable, and secondly, by avoiding liability. We want to empower you with legal tools to grow your business and outdo your competition. We want to use the law in such a way that it works with you and for you.
If the law is used in this empowering and “seeing it, and preventing it, before it happens” kind of way, your business will flourish.
The law have many tools, some are there to better structure your business, some are there to streamline your business, there are a lot of tools which sole purpose is to protect your business, there are also predictive tools (believe it or not), tools that better relationships, diagnostic tools, and many more. Unfortunately, and due to the fact that the law is usually applied after the fact, it is mostly perceived as coercive or a grudge expense. If applied after the fact, it certainly is coercive and/or expensive. We want to prevent exposure to the grim face of the law.
We aim to improve on these dismal statistics on the left by empowering you with the necessary advice and tools. Speak to us again in 10 years, if you are still around and flourishing it means that we have done our job properly.
The story of three Chinese doctors illustrate my point more elegantly than I can.
There was a famous Chinese doctor, who lived some 4,000 years ago. He was celebrated for his skills and knowledge of medicine and his ability to heal even the most fatal disease. He cured the emperor’s son who
was believed dead, in a miraculous exhibition of his skills. The emperor asked why he was so much better than his two brothers, who were also doctors.
He replied, my first brother heals sickness before it even develops, so his methods and skills appear unseen and he is known only within our village. His practice involves giving advice on food, exercise and lifestyle to keep his patients well.
My second brother deals with illnesses while they are chronic or minor, preventing sickness from getting worse and returning the body to health. He cares for his patients through acupuncture and herbs to re-balance them back to good health when they become ill. He is well known in the province.
I treat diseases when they threaten to destroy the person. This requires several medicines, skill and knowledge in their use. For this reason, my name has become famous throughout the kingdom, yet I am simply a surgeon who is called upon when all else fails. My first brother has the knowledge to deal with illness before they arise and my second brother is able to treat them at an early stage and prevent them getting worse. Though my fame has spread throughout the land, their knowledge is greater.
Our Legal System...
The last brother is an illustration of how our legal system works.
The first and second brother is what we seek to do at MAB Legal Consult. We want to work preventatively as far as possible and if there is a potential “ailment” identify and “cure” it before it develops.
In my time as a candidate attorney and later as an advocate I saw the results of no advice. My colleagues and I often remarked that lawyers and advocates will be out of a job if businesses simply obtained advice before implementing a procedure or making a far-reaching business decision or sign an agreement. I challenge any person who knows anything about commercial litigation to challenge my submission that at least 95% of all commercial litigation (except debt collection) is preventable.
“But everything is going so well”- You may say.
Yes, that may be true, but you do not know what invisible cancer is growing in your business’s chest – you don’t know what you don’t know. What harm can it do to use us, to give your business a check-up from time to time just like a doctor would give you.
Certainly “prevention is better than a cure?” Unfortunately, most businesses only see the inside of a lawyer’s office once the proverbial paw-paw has already hit the fan and then only when you have a business worth saving.
To clean up a mess is always far more expensive and labour intensive than to hold the arm of the one who wants to throw the paw-paw. In fact we would rather see the parties enjoy the paw-paw than waste it. It is doubly unfortunate that legal practices are not set up to act as advisors or consultants. Lawyers make money from litigation not advice. It is simply not as profitable to be in the advice business. It is far more profitable to be in the crisis management business. A client in a crises is vulnerable and out of options and is therefore far more likely to dole out cash than one who is not.
Be warned, that in addition to being at the mercy of others, legal processes consume vast amounts of emotional and financial resources, often hundreds of thousands, even millions of rand. I’ve seen it, many times. I’ve been there, and I can tell you first hand that the ultimate outcome, win or lose, is never, ever what the parties intended or wanted.
You simply never get back what you have lost. Your damage may be mitigated to some extent but the true cost in finances, time, relationships and emotions can never be recovered.
LEGAL ADVICE SERVICES
In order to prevent flying paw-paw’s we offer a vast array of consultancy services, but our pride and joy is our LEGAL ADVICE RETAINER PACKAGE which, for most businesses, is quite sufficient (You get quite a lot for very little). In terms of this package we offer the following services all included in your monthly premium subject to the terms contained in your agreement.
Legal advice on any legal aspect within our law relevant to your business.
Legal Risk Management
Guided advice before signing or drafting an agreement. We will also advise you on corrections and draft the corrections.
Advice on, or Drafting of legal utility documents like checklists, letters of demand, ratification's, resolutions and literally hundreds of other documents.
Drafting Agreements or precedents. Most agreements or business documents are fairly standard. Should you require one of these standard documents, only the time streamlining the document to your purposes will be taken into account and would usually not attract additional costs. Non-standard documents have to be drafted virtually from scratch and will usually attract an additional charge at our discounted rate. We do however have a huge variety of agreements and precedents so mostly we would be able to work within the time limitations of the retainer. (We are not clock watchers. Within reason, we are willing to go beyond the call of duty, even if it means that we go over the time limitations of the retainer.)
Strategic legal planning,
Advice regarding corporate structures, business administration and statutory compliance. (Other optional services such as a full critical evaluation of your business, business administration services, statutory compliance services, corporate structuring services, contractual services, turning your business into a turnkey business etc. are available as extras to you.)
Pre-litigation preparation. Should you be sued, or wish to sue someone else (except debt collection), you will be provided with an opinion on the merits of the matter which you can present to your attorney. We shall also prepare an instruction with all the relevant documents and consultation notes which you can give your attorney saving you much time and money. This service is part of your package no matter what the time expenditure is.
Throughout the litigation process we shall advise you and guide you in as far as it may be required or advisable it being understood that we shall not draft any pleadings, represent or advance your case formally in court in any way. We shall not charge an additional fee for these services which is included in your consultancy fee.
We look forward to serving you and take great pride in the close relationship we develop with our clients. You will not be advised by a paralegal (we only use attorneys and advocates). A personal advisor will be allocated to you and your business. They will take great pains to understand your business and your specific challenges.
We look forward to assist you on your way to further your business’s success.