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Frederick W. Stephenson Law

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  Frederick W. Stephenson


Very simply, this page is about what you should be looking for in an attorney, and about the very definite limits to trying to proceed without an attorney.


Jules Guérard, the lion hunter, says in his book that in the beginning young lions have a lot of trouble killing a horse or an ox, but that the old lions kill with a single blow of the paw or a well-placed bite, and that they are amazingly sure at the job.

Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to his brother, Theo

I like the quotation you just read because it very concisely and eloquently sums up what you should be looking for in a lawyer, which is, most simply, ability coupled with a deep and extensive experience. On a practical level, what the foregoing means is this: Some areas of the law are relatively simple: the same situation occurs over and over, the legal solution is relatively clear, and the appropriate means to address it are obvious. You can hire me for that type of situation, I will know how to deal with it with great economy because I have dealt with it before, and because I do not want to waste my time or your money unnecessarily on that sort of thing. At the same time, there are other situations which are not so simple or obvious, and where experience counts -- a lot. And that is why you should also hire me for those situations. I welcome those situations simply because I like the challenge of coming up with the best and most efficient solution, and making it work.


To put what you should be concerned with in a somewhat different way, although it is not often discussed, it is of the greatest importance that you understand the practice views or philosophy of the attorney you choose, and that those views harmonize with what you want. My objective is to give you sound and practical advice, and to represent you with appropriate aggressiveness, diligence, and efficiency. In all circumstances I will value most highly the approach which is the simplest, most direct, most effective, and least expensive. My forty plus years of experience tell me that this is the way to the best representation, and allow me to know what the simplest, most direct, most effective, and least expensive way is.


These days all kinds of forms and advice are available on the internet, at minimal cost, or even for free, so that the question becomes, what is wrong with doing it yourself? This is a fair question, and it deserves an answer. The easiest answer is that having seen this done by various people over the years, often in a situation where the client is before me with a defective document done by the client or another lay person, or with a court case which is in distress or has failed, the simple fact is that most people do not understand the forms or the advice they attempt to use on their own, and often it is the most critical point which they get wrong. A form particularly always seems to be easy and obvious, but I have yet to find a form that fits the situation as you find it. The problem is that the hard part is not the form itself, but understanding the underlying situation which it is hoped the form will address. There is a reason it takes three years full time to get through law school, if you do, and that even after that a lot of graduates cannot pass the state bar examination, and that even after that, for those who do pass, experience matters greatly, to say the least, and the more experience the better.