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Blog & News

October 7, 2009

Ask the Attorney – October 2009

Filed under: Columns from Our Towne Magazine, General — Paul Czech & Associates @ 4:04 pm


Writing a column is a funny thing, at least for me.  I come up with topics (not always such an easy thing to do), I sit at my desk and write, then I submit the piece for publication.  Once it’s written and reviewed I do not go back and reread it again except, perhaps, when it is finally sent to me in its printed form and then, at most, it only receives a curious glance.  I know I’m not the only person who feels this way.  I have other friends who write articles or columns and they have much the same attitude about things.  Once it’s done it’s done – there’s no reason to keep reliving it over and over.  Then, suddenly, it’s time to start fresh with a new topic and begin the process all over again.

So it always takes me by surprise when someone tells me they’ve read it.   I’ve been out publicly lately, to Chamber events and the like, and during conversations with people I had met there for the first time, after hearing my name in introductions, each of them said, “so you’re the guy who writes that column!”.  This happened at least four times over the last few months and each time I was just as surprised as I was the time before.  My surprise isn’t that they’re reading my column, particularly, although that’s clearly part of it.  I’m just taken aback by the fact that people are still reading at all.  With our society’s obsession with social networking sites on the internet and our passion for texting (a passion I have, personally, not acquired), I’ve gotten the distinct impression that if a writing is longer than 140 characters long, no one has the patience or concentration skills or interest to actually get through it.

If you are reading this part of this months column, you have already proven that you do not fall into this unfortunate category.  Good for you.  And thank you for making this column and this publication one of the things that you do focus your attention on.  I know that reading “Our Towne” is a great way to find out about local businesses and merchants as well a way to hear about community events and happenings. But I’d also like to think that this column somehow enhances that by giving you something to think about.  Or, maybe it addresses a legal topic related to something you are facing or are about to face.  I write this to inform, entertain, and to express my opinions to the community that I live in.  So with that in mind, I’d like to hear from you.  Tell me what you’d like me to write about and let me know what interests you and I’ll do my best to address it.  That, in my opinion, is something great that’s come from our technological dependence – you can pretty much contact anyone by email and reach them directly.

I welcome your comments whether you agree with me or not.  If everyone agreed with everything I said or say, things would be quite boring indeed.  And your comments might actually teach me something or give me a slant on things that I had not thought about or considered.   Unfortunately, during the year or so that I’ve been writing this column, I have heard from almost no one.  I did get a topic request from a person who wants me to write about working with contractors and the things you can do to make that interaction go as smoothly as possible while getting yourself enough legal protection to make you feel comfortable that you have legal recourse if and when things turn ugly.  That’s my intended topic for next month’s piece (Ginny – sorry to make you wait).

And I got an email from a a gentleman who commented on last months column about contracts and grey areas in the law.  He was concerned that I implied that anyone who had an action to bring to small claims court needed a lawyer.  I reread that piece and I never said or implied that.  But to make sure everyone is clear, I’ll clarify things here – anyone can bring a small claims action in Town Justice Court or in Municipal Courts of the same level without having to hire a lawyer to represent them.  These Courts are designed so that anyone can take their claim to Court and avoid the expense of a lawyer.  Indeed, litigants are encouraged to bring their cases as pro se (self-represented) parties in these legal forums.  However, folks still come to me and ask me to represent them in relation to such claims.  I’ve found that some people, regardless of how friendly a court environment is, simply feel intimidated by going before a Judge and they prefer to pay the extra expense to have a lawyer do the work for them.  Or they feel a lawyer will give them the extra fire power they need to prevail when they get their day in court.  The example of the musician that I used last month was based on my actual experience within my entertainment law practice.  I have had many musicians over the years come to me for representation in small claims matters that simply are not worth pursuing after you look at the simple economics of the situation.  And the economic evaluation never includes any fee that I would charge to take on the representation.  What gets considered is the value of your claim, the amount of time you will have to spend on it, the impact it will have on you getting future work, Court costs involved, etc.  I did not write the column intending to make more business for myself or for any other lawyer as I was accused of by the reader who emailed who, by the way, used an obvious false name and threatened to report me to the Bar Association for what I wrote.

I hope that clarifies things.  I can’t wait to hear from you.

-Paul Czech, Esq.

March Edition of Rensselaer ‘Our Towne’ magazine

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