You Can't Be a Jack of All Trades

Ms. Faye Riva Cohen
December 18, 2012 — 928 views  

For days after Hurricane Sandy I was flooded with calls from disgruntled, suspended or terminated employees seeking legal advice. I guess they were stuck at home and decided to call a lawyer and discuss their issues. For the most part, employees who call me should have sought legal help far earlier than they did. I am of the opinion that given the current workplace environment every employee needs to keep a lawyer on call. If retained early enough a lawyer may be able to save an employee’s job, and if that is not possible, for one reason or another, some type of severance agreement may be negotiated which may or may not involve money, a neutral employment reference, and/or an agreement that an employee may apply for unemployment compensation benefits without the employer contesting benefits.  A lawyer may be able to assist with a disability claim, or perhaps fashion some other remedy.

In addition to assisting with the above, a lawyer can give a client a studied opinion, stripped of emotion, as to whether they have good legal grounds to pursue their claim, and even if they do, what their chances are of prevailing on their claim with a government agency or in a litigation setting, and whether it is financially beneficial for them to even proceed with their claim. Even if the only benefit is avoiding the stress, anxiety, loss of self-esteem and depression that quite often accompanies the potential loss of one’s job, it is worth seeking legal assistance. So, people shouldn’t be penny wise and pound foolish. If one were to balance on a scale the cost of hiring a lawyer versus the loss of a job and/or other benefits, it is usually financially worthwhile.  

Despite all of the above benefits which clients can derive from early consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer, many people think they can serve as their own lawyer, or they listen to people who are not lawyers, many of whom work for government agencies, who tell them they don’t have to hire a lawyer. Even if one is not required to hire a lawyer, it is never a bad idea, and usually a very good idea. Time and again I talk or meet with people who have not hired a lawyer and they have missed filing or appeal deadlines, and have been bullied into giving up benefits or their legal rights by their employers or their human resources’ representatives, or their union representatives.

 We are living in a time when large amounts of information are available to us via the Internet.  All of this information sometimes makes people think they can become jacks of all trades.  Yet it is often preferable, and often cost-saving and less frustrating to hire a trained professional rather than try and do something by oneself. Lawyers are trained and experienced in how to handle matters, yet many people think they don’t need lawyers.

An example of another type of profession which deals with do it yourselfers, is interior design. Of course one can select their own paint colors, fabrics or furniture. If people have the time and money and aren’t concerned about making mistakes, they may find these activities fun. As for me, I have worked with interior designers since I was a young woman for many reasons. First, I get overwhelmed when confronted with a large range of choices and I prefer to have someone else narrow the choices for me based on my taste. I know a lady who taped wallpaper samples to her walls where they remained for years, because she was too confused to do anything. I also know a business owner who went to a store many times, eventually trying out 26 paint samples, and even having to repaint walls when he didn’t like the results on a large area. This was a process that was costly in time, gas and sample prices.

Second, an interior designer can find reliable, qualified, and reasonably priced vendors like painters, carpenters, and other craftspeople. And, the interior designer can make sure they get the job done right and on time. 

Third, in the long run, an interior designer can save you time and money. As a professional, who charges by the hour, it really isn’t worthwhile for me to spend hours looking at samples, etc. I did that some years ago with curtain trim which I thought was too expensive, so I decided to look for cheaper trim. It required 3 trips to fabric stores located in an area where the roads were under construction, in 100 degree weather, and at the end, the trim I liked was one foot short. So, when I recently refurbished my office building, my interior designer and I selected the paint colors, the new window shades and carpets, she recommended the painter, the window shade company and the carpet company, and she rehung the paintings and diplomas in groupings, and they look far better than before.   Although I am paying for her assistance, in the end, it made for less expense for me, less stress, and a lovely result. So, her services have been priceless!




Ms. Faye Riva Cohen

Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C.

I am Faye Riva Cohen, Esquire and am a Philadelphia attorney who has been practicing law since 1974. I am the president and managing attorney of both the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C. and Legal Research, Inc.