KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO ASK FOR HELP
Although I am an attorney, I have always enjoyed tinkering with manual labor trades. Thanks to my late father, I have a pretty expansive working knowledge of painting, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, sheet rocking, taping and many other fields. Although he was very mechanically inclined, he never did any of his own car repairs. I do. Recently I have expanded from doing the simple things like replacing a radiator or alternator to replacing a starter, slave cylinder, steering gear box and steering linkage. Although I always appreciated my mechanic, especially because he is my best friend, having now done some of these more demanding repairs, I have a much greater appreciation for him and mechanics as a whole as well as an inflamed contempt for the engineers that design our vehicles. For example, something that should be a simple repair (with the right tools) like removing a pitman arm which connects to the steering gear box and the front wheels making it possible to turn your vehicle was made extremely more difficult because it was located directly over the frame cross beam with about one inch of clearance. I was fortunate that I was replacing the gear box as well because the only way to replace that arm was to remove the entire gear box with the arm still attached. Needless to say I had a few choice words for the ghost engineer that designed this system.
While I tinker in these different areas of manual labor, as many others do, it is important to recognize when something, even though within your capabilities, is not worth the risk of doing it yourself. For example, although replacing a gas tank may be a very simple thing to do, if I use the wrong tool at the wrong time and cause a spark, I will never tinker again. Another example is taxes. Although I understand many of the concepts and rules governing tax filing, I would never file my own taxes because the risks are too high that I will do it wrong.
The same goes for practicing law. Over the years I have performed thousands of real estate closings. I have also come across sellers that want to represent themselves in the closing while I represent the buyer. Knowing what I know, I absolutely refuse to conduct a closing with a non-attorney for both selfish reasons (my own protection) and for the seller’s best interest as well. More and more people are using online legal services and legal forms believing they can do what their attorney does. You may think that filling out that form is all that is needed, but it is what you do not know that can hurt you. For example, preparing a quitclaim deed from a parent to a child is easy and fairly inexpensive. The bigger question is do you understand the potential effects of that transfer which can be much more costly down the road? For the answer see my blog on “Should I Transfer My House To My Kids?” Unlike changing the oil on your car which only requires you to check that you refilled it and it isn’t leaking, legal matters can have major consequences many years after the act is done. It is always best to consult with your local attorney because of these issues. Please note that the online legal services may also connect you to an attorney but is he or she familiar with Connecticut law? If not, he/she may advise you to your detriment which detriment may not become known to you for many years to come.