We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

 

Businessman

So, the last of the wedding festivities are over. We had a reception for our daughter and her husband at the local Dinosaur Museum; all I can say is that while it was quirky it was a lot of fun. As my daughter said when we were discussing venues, “Why wouldn’t you want a reception in a dinosaur museum?” Which kinda, not really, leads me to the subject of this week’s blog. While in the Army I had a friend who would always say, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

When you think about it this makes sense because if we are not trained in a particular area it should not be surprising that our ignorance is compounded by what we don’t know. Take for example a recent client I met with. She and her business partner bought documents from a well-known online document provider. Now her relationship with her business partner is ending and there is a fight brewing over who owns what.

Like many, this person thought lawyers just created documents and forms. This is partly true, but what lawyers provide is knowledge. The documents this client and her partner signed all have meaning, and each document will have an impact on the outcome of her situation; however, neither she nor her partner know what they mean.  I was able to tell her this much when we met: it will cost a great deal more to figure what these documents mean now than it would have if she had come to see me prior to signing everything. But she got exactly what she paid for. She bought forms from a company that advertises it is not a law firm, and she got exactly that. What she didn’t get was the legal counsel she needed.

There is no doubt legal advice can be costly, but would you order a do-it-yourself brain surgery kit? Sometimes, what we don’t know can hurt us, and when it does it will invariably cost more.  When you buy exactly what you need you are never disappointed, but when you buy a cheap substitute you pay twice. No difference here. If we can help let us know; if we can’t or you don’t need our help we will tell you.

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