Thank you for considering working with me.
To help us both determine whether your needs and my skill set, focus, and preferred working style are a good fit without either of us investing in an initial consultation, I’ve written this summary of the areas in which I practice, with some comments on how I work with clients. I hope you find it helpful.
A note on conflicts of interest: If you request an initial consultation, my staff will ask for names of people involved in the issues for which you’re seeking legal advice. This process is an essential precondition to an initial consultation. Please understand that we will not schedule an initial consultation without this information, so that I can determine whether there are conflicts that could not be waived. This is important to protect you, my existing clients, and myself.
Areas of Practice
- Formation of entities: If you’re starting a new business or considering changes to the structure of existing business interests, we can discuss the pros and cons of different options. Note: while we will discuss potential considerations related to taxation, I am not a tax attorney, and encourage you to rely on advice from an accountant before making any final decisions with significant tax implications.
- Outside General Counsel: I provide day to day business advice, services for transactions, and, when it’s necessary and I’m a good fit, representation in litigation. If we decide I’m not the best fit for litigation, I’m available to assist in identifying appropriate counsel, and working with outside co-counsel if that’s helpful.
- Training Clients in How to Use a Lawyer
- Contracts: for most clients, it’s not cost-effective to pay an attorney to review every contract they enter into. Part of my work is teaching clients to look for key language in contracts to quickly assess the inherent legal risks, and make educated decisions about which contracts should be referred to counsel. Some of the key factors include:
- The total value of the contract, and the complete obligations undertaken;
- The terms for termination;
- The attorneys’ fees provisions;
- Language limiting or expanding claims, damages, and indemnification responsibilities;
- Benefits and risks of confidentiality provisions;
- Considerations related to non-compete clauses and other restrictions on trade;
- Unilateral verses bilateral provisions and unconscionability;
- Jurisdiction, venue, and arbitration considerations that control if suits arise.
- Regulatory Compliance: I’m available to assist in reviewing and analyzing regulations to assist in compliance, redressing violations, seeking licenses, and providing guidance in a wide range of decisions related to the complex regulatory systems that impact businesses.
- Risk Management: I can help you identify authoritative sources that provide helpful resources to turn to assess your own legal needs initially when legal questions arise, on issues such as compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and other regulatory structures.
- Handbooks, Manuals, and other Policy Statements: I’m available to provide input on or draft policy and procedure manuals and similar documents, as well as to interpret and apply existing policy statements.
- Enhancing Teamwork: I also work with clients extensively on teamwork and accountability concepts. During thirty years practicing law, I have learned from clients and a passion for reading non-fiction, especially related to managing teams in ways that help reduce the risks of litigation.
Whether buying a business, entering into contracts as part of operating a business, or entering into non-business related contracts, I’m available to review and analyze proposed contracts, draft contracts, negotiate contracts, assist with due diligence, help negotiate resolutions when disputes arise, and represent clients in litigation, when necessary, if we decide I’m a good fit.
- Purchase, Sale, and Commercial Leases: I’m available to draft, review, and negotiate contracts for the purchase of real estate, and associated assets, such as when purchasing an on-going business that includes real property, personal property, and intangible assets such as “goodwill”. I also review, draft, and negotiate commercial leases. I do not work in the area of residential leases.
- Zoning: I have extensive experience assisting clients with zone changes, and defending against inappropriate zone changes.
- Subdivision: I have experience assisting clients in legally subdividing property, and related work such as drafting restrictive covenants.
- Quiet Title: I handle cases to correct deficiencies or irregularity with legal ownership of property, due to errors in deeds or other problems.
- Easements: I’m available to analyze, and assist in creating or amending easements, enforcing easements, terminating easements, and to obtain legal confirmation of prescriptive easements and easements by necessity through litigation.
Estate Planning and Probate
- New Mexico intestate laws set out “default” rules for assets to be distributed on a “family tree” basis that I find consistent with what most clients want. But even where the statutes would comply with your desires, there are estate planning options that make it clearer and easier for your family. An investment of $1,000-$3,000 depending on the complexity of your assets, and chosen estate plan, can provide tremendous benefits to those you love, and charitable beneficiaries.
- I prepare Wills, Trusts, powers of attorney, and related documents to ensure that your wishes are expressed clearly and in the best possible form to meet your estate planning goals. A Caution: While I understand why relatives, friends, or care givers might make the initial call for potential estate planning services. However, it is also a potential sign of undue influence if that individual is contemplating inheriting inconsistent with intestate statutes. It’s not necessarily inappropriate, but if the individual interested in services initiates the contact, there is less likelihood of undue influence being asserted.
- I handle probates, whether contested or uncontested. Depending on the nature and extent of factual disputes, I may recommend that I co-counsel with another attorney outside my firm, or recommend a larger firm, if I believe you can be better served by a larger team.
- I no longer handle guardianship and conservatorship cases, primarily because, in my experience and opinion, the process is too uncertain, expensive, and ineffective. I can explain the process, and provide limited guidance on when it may be appropriate nonetheless.
Warning about litigation: No matter how clear the law applied to the facts may be in a particular case, the only way to enforce your rights is to seek an order from a court establishing those rights so that they can be enforced, such as through collection of a judgment, recording an order that establishes your ownership of property, or otherwise establishing your rights in a form that others will recognize. Litigation is expensive, and moves slowly. I comply with the Rules of Civil Procedure to the very best of my ability; many lawyers break the rules regularly, and to my frustration, there are frequently minimal if any consequences. Some attorneys will deliberately violate the Rules in ways designed to cause delay, increase expenses, and abuse the Rules, particularly if their client’s position is weak. Judges are reluctant to make rulings to ensure consequences for deliberate violations; it’s an extremely frustrating process for many clients.
- I handle litigation in the areas related to my transactional work – disputed probates, including challenges to a Will or other testamentary documents, real estate disputes, easement disputes, and contract disputes. I sometimes work with Family Law attorneys in cases where assets at issue in a divorce include business or real estate assets and my background is helpful to assist the primary attorney.
- As a sole practitioner, I have to be particularly careful in selecting litigation that I can handle on my own, or with a colleague who’s willing to work with us, in which case clients have separate bills from two firms.
- For these reasons, I tend to select cases where the dispute is based primarily on interpretation of the law and documents, not on cases where the focus would be persuading a jury to believe my client’s testimony over the other party.