Attorneys are people too:
There’s a movie I really like called “The 13th Warrior.” It’s based on the epic of Beowulf with a few twists. There’s an extra character, played by Antonio Banderas, who ends up being the epics author.
Another twist happens with Grendle. In the epic, Grendle is a humanoid-ogre type beast who appears at night to fight and feast on the warriors sleeping in the local mead hall. In the movie, Grendle is portrayed as an army of cannibals dressed as bears.
During one of the movie Grendels’ assaults, Antonio Banderas’ terrified character has a cannibal jump on top of him. Antonio is able to draw his sword just enough so that the advancer falls on the blade. When Antonio gets up and sees the bear is just a costumed human, his bravery is rekindled. He begins to fight like never before chanting, “It’s just a man!”
Bless their hearts, sometimes attorneys get portrayed as Grendels. They get a bad reputation for ostensibly wanting to wage war and to eat people alive.
I personally don’t know a single attorney who actually fits this description. Most of the ones I know are personable people who care about their communities and are just trying to make a living.
That being said, most people feel a twinge of- if not all out- intimidation if they get a letter or a phone call from a law firm. If you do get contacted by one, remember, they’re “just a man.” They’re not all-knowing, all-powerful, or infallible- and they definitely won’t eat you. They’re people and you should conduct reasonable business with them as such.
A law firm out of Atlanta contacted us on behalf of a large bank recently. The bank had foreclosed on a property that adjoined one of ours and the law firm was asking us to grant its client an easement. Well, asking is probably not the right word; let me explain.
The attorney kept referring to the driveway the properties share as an abandoned public road. I believe they were doing this to get the easement without paying anything for it. You see when you grant an easement to someone, you’re selling them a right to your property. As such, you should be compensated for it.
When asked how the bank was going to compensate us for granting them the easement, the law firm reverted to, “It’s an abandoned public road. There’s no compensation in order.”
I told them, “I’m not a smart man, but if it’s a public road, why do you need an easement from us?”
That ended the conversation.
A couple of days later the lawyers informed us they’d been authorized by the bank to pay us $250 for executing the deed.
I said, “That’s great! We didn’t expect to get paid just for executing the deed- we’ll take it.” My lingering question, however was, “How are you going to compensate us for giving you our property rights?”
After a few more correspondences, the firm finally asked me what we wanted.
I told them our property is the first one on the driveway. That means we get more wear and tear on our portion than everyone else. All we wanted was to get our driveway scraped and re-graveled along with a signed maintenance agreement that states that everyone who owns the easement will help pay for the driveway upkeep.
The bank agreed to our terms and we did the deal.
You can easily be intimidated by a letter or feel bullied on a phone call from a law firm. Just because they’re attorneys doesn’t mean what they say is set in stone- you can and should investigate what they say and attempt to negotiate with them.
Conduct reasonable business, be courteous and for goodness sake remember, they are just people too… not Grendels.
Joe and Ashley English invest in real estate in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com