Question: I am about to buy a home. Why would I need a lawyer?
Answer: These days, most folks buying a home in Texas do so without the benefit of a lawyer. In our opinion, many of these buyers are taking an unnecessary and unwise risk.
- It does not cost that much. The cost of our legal representation in a typical residential purchase is modest compared to the fees charged by the other players involved in the transaction. You may think you cannot afford a lawyer, but in all likelihood, you can. Unlike the agent, we do not charge a percentage of the purchase price.
- “Bringing a knife to a gun fight.” The lender, the title insurance company, the escrow agent, any institutional seller, and perhaps even the individual seller, all have teams of lawyers working on their side. Do you really want to be the only player without an attorney?
- Your agent cannot give you legal advice. Unless your real estate agent is also a licensed attorney, he or she cannot and should not give you legal advice. Furthermore, it is just not reasonable for you to expect your agent to double as your legal advisor. Your agent is busy enough showing you properties, studying comparable sales, negotiating a price, and taking care of other details, such as arranging for a survey, home inspection and the like. We like real estate agents. Please, give them a break. Don’t expect them to be lawyers, too.
- Real estate agents cannot draft or revise legal documents. In Texas, agents are limited to the use of the pre-printed forms approved by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). Of course, they can fill-in the blanks, cross out paragraphs, and make minor revisions to these TREC forms. But if the seller is using a custom earnest money contract, or if you need to make a significant revision to the contract, you will need an attorney.
- Title Commitments. Soon after you sign an earnest money contract, you will receive a title commitment from the title insurance company. The title commitment and exception documents (such as restrictive covenants and easements) need to be carefully reviewed. Any objections to these exceptions must be made promptly, within the deadline provided in the earnest money contract. Having a lawyer review theses documents and make any appropriate objections keeps you from ending up with inadequate title insurance coverage. Again, it is not reasonable for you to expect your agent to undertake this task for you.
- Title Insurance and Escrow Agents Can Make Mistakes. Title insurance and escrow agents do occasionally make mistakes or omissions in the preparation of deeds, closing documents and title insurance, all of which can spell disaster for the buyer if not caught and corrected before closing. Even worse, there are few crooks out there, too. We’ve seen them first hand. Having an attorney review and correct these documents protects you from losses caused by the mistakes or wrongdoing of these players.
- Good lawyers are not deal breakers. Contrary to the old adage repeated by some agents, lawyers are not “deal breakers.” A lawyer working on the buyer’s behalf is part of a deal making team, and an experienced agent should welcome having another good player on his or her team to help make the deal happen. The lawyer’s role is to make sure the deal is done right – not to break the deal.
Question I am starting a business, I need a lawyer, how can you help me?
Answer: We can assist you in selecting the appropriate entity for your business, the formation and operation of the business as well as maintenance, contracts, and litigation. Texas has a number of business entities to chose from, and we can advise you on which might be best for you. We can assist you with the formation of Texas corporations (selection of a subchapter C corporation or S corporation), 501(c)(3) non-profit entity formation, formation of a Texas limited liability company (LLC), general and limited partnerships (GP or L.P.), limited liability partnerships (L.L.P.), professional entities (Texas professional limited liability partnerships — P.L.L.C., Texas professional corporations — P.C., and Professional Associations, P.A.s) and Texas sole proprietorships (d/b/a or doing business as).
Question: Do I really need a lawyer to form my own corporation?
Answer: Certainly, you could do it yourself, but self-service incorporation or do-it-yourself legal kits might not be the most cost effective move. We are sensitive to the need of startups to save money, but remember that you get what you pay for.
There are many different types of business entities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Your selection of entity should be made with the advice of a professional to ensure that your objectives are met. Additionally, once a charter is issued, there is more paperwork to do, such as initial organizational meetings, drafting of operational documents (bylaws, operating agreements, regulations, etc.), governmental compliance, and business succession planning. The consequences and costs of addressing legal mistakes are usually much greater than the cost of having hired a lawyer to do it right in the first place.
Question: How do you buy or sell a business in Texas?
Answer: Common methods include sales of all assets, stock or unit transfers and mergers. Business brokers may or may not be involved. We can assist you with the various aspects of this type of commercial transaction. Some items to consider are applicable code compliance, employee retention, UCC liens, commercial leases, goodwill and the value of the furniture, fixtures and equipment that you are buying.
Question: Can you help us with our contracts and corporate legal documents?
Answer: We regularly assist clients with the drafting, negotiation and review of business contracts and corporate documents. We handle contracts including the buying and selling of businesses, employment agreements, indemnity agreements, packaging agreements, and commercial leases, as well as drafting corporate resolutions and other corporate documents.
Question: Do you handle commercial litigation?
Answer: Yes, we handle commercial lawsuits, including breach of contract, trademark infringement and unfair competition. We represent both plaintiffs and defendants. Having worked both at law firms and as an in-house business attorney, Andy Simmons understands that commercial litigation must be conducted in a way that achieves success in the court room, in the board room, and in the market place. We tailor our approach to your case based upon your specific needs, goals and budget. We listen.
Question: I am a business person, not a lawyer. I don’t want a lot of legalese and mumbo jumbo in my contracts, and I need a lawyer who will explain the law in plain English. Will you do that?
Answer: We like to use plain English whenever possible in our legal documents. It is important to us that you understand our advice and what we are doing on your behalf. Andy Simmons is a teacher as well as a lawyer. He has taught civil litigation, business law, torts and property law at the local business college – he likes explaining things! We won’t talk down to you, but we won’t use legal jargon when plain English would do just as well.