46 - September 2010
Father's Day legal message
After years of striving to bring home more and more bacon, fathers realise that however much bacon is brought home, there never seems to be quite enough. For instance, daughter's wedding costs are adjusted to suit the money available as are demands for shoes, tops, foreign holidays, new cars etc. Many fathers react to this by adopting a simple Buddhist-like life style knowing that any extravagance on their part may trigger another round of spending by the rest of the family.
However, it does not need to be this way. Fathers who turn to their lawyers for a solution have been advised to channel monthly family income to the lawyer’s trust account and allow their lawyer to deal with requests for finance by family members. Such is the saving that there is soon enough money to accommodate any sensible request by the children. Lawyers ensure that rather than the usual handouts, money is given to children by way of documented loans. In some cases, it has been possible to reclassify previous handouts, as loans thus increasing the family's capital base.
The debts are immediately factored out creating a fund which can be the subject of further loans or just saved. Factors rather than parents will pursue children for repayment thus reducing family contention. Indeed, if children fall behind in repayments, parents have the funds immediately available to bail them out by way of further loans. Children soon learn the value of money and some even stop approaching their parents for money, at all.
Fathers can soon easily afford the gardeners and tradesmen to undertake the jobs that they tend to avoid doing each weekend.
Fathers will finally be able to afford the Harley Davidsons, Hawaiian Shirts and gold chains which make their life a little brighter.
With the help of their lawyer, fathers can forsake their unfulfilling and impoverished existence to become once again the fun loving, generous people they once were before they had children.
First, let’s not insult all the lawyers
I recently attended a lunch with the Australian Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland ("AG") and several other lawyers. A national newspaper had reported him as saying that anyone using a lawyer to resolve a dispute was "well and truly up the creek without a paddle". In fact, he had been misquoted and the AG had only nice things to say about lawyers and their dispute resolving prowess, although understandably he would not be drawn on Julia Gillard’s dispute resolving technique but said that she was good at building a consensus.
When asked why lawyers were unpopular the AG explained that they were like politicians, clearly that explains it.
He complained of the isolation of being a politician, “the divorce rate is 80%”. Only politicians seem to find this surprising. He blamed the many hours away from home. I suggested that in the case of some politicians this may help, but no.
He said that Australian lawyers compared very favourably to US and UK lawyers in terms of their fees which after an initial feeling of euphoria made us all feel depressed. He added that Australian lawyers were ahead in terms of value too but the thought that we were charging less and doing more made us even more depressed.
He said that in dealing with constituents today he asks them the same question he asked clients when he was a lawyer in private practice which is “There are two ways that we can play this, what you want to hear or honest advice?”. Surprisingly, his clients and his constituents have always picked the “honest advice” option. I wondered if Labor has tried this in Queensland.
A few days later, Labor had a disappointing election result but this earnest and likable AG kept his seat.
(c) Paul Brennan 2010 is a business and property lawyer on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. However, he attended this lunch as an occasional correspondent for the Hearsay section of the Australian Financial Review.
The 3 Minute "Are you legally savvy" Quiz
This is an international Legal Quiz to test your response to common legal situations which can lead to serious consequences for you if you make the wrong call.
It awards a certificate with your name and score.
The quiz is free and can be repeated under an assumed name until a perfect score is achieved. It was taken over 450 times last week, possibly by the same person.
It is intended to demonstrate how depressingly similar the law is in every country. An explanation is given with each answer.
We would welcome any feedback on the quiz, unless it is seriously flawed, in which case we would prefer not to know.
At a Formal Dinner on the other side of a large round table sat a young lady who caught my eye and said “I love your column”. She was referring to my newspaper column. We got talking across the table. She had written a manuscript which lay unpublished in the bottom of her bedroom wardrobe. She refused to tell me what it was called. I told her that I too was trying to write a novel called “Filth”.
After the Dinner, she came over and quietly told me that her novel was to be called “Disgusting” and then left. I did not get the opportunity to tell her that in Hong Kong, FILTH was a common acronym for “Failed in London Try Hong Kong”. My novel was a comic story about a London lawyer etc., etc.
Even the surest set of circumstances can turn out to be completely inaccurate. For instance, a person who repeats gossip only to find out that despite the reliable source, it is untrue. The legal action commenced on the basis of facts which later are proved untrue by expert evidence. This is why before commencing court action your lawyer will wish to engage in expensive enquiries to check the facts that you know to be true. The consequences of not doing so, can be disastrous.
It took me 15,000 words to discover that my intended novel was dull, a quite acceptable standard for law books but not for novels, so I stopped.
Recently, in a bookshop I saw a book called “Old Filth” about a lawyer who failed etc. It had been shortlisted for the Orange prize. I felt no interest in purchasing it or even opening it. Whereas I suspect “Disgusting” could develop quite a following, if it ever came out of the closet.
On 20 October 2010 from 5.30pm - 7.30pm, Paul Brennan will be speaking about intellectual property law for the education and amusement of the Institute of Chartered Accountants at Maroochydore. Non-members are welcome. Click here for a registration form.
The content of the Law & Disorder eZine is to give you legal basics and in some instances included unashamedly to try and make you laugh. In law it is sometimes difficult to work out what is serious and what is just for fun. Therefore, if you plan to do anything legal, rely on your own lawyer’s advice or instruct me to look at the particular facts of your case. Not only will I deny responsibility for the legal content but also for some of the jokes.