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Moroccan Bazaars, Craigslist Craziness and Buyer Beware

By Bill Yanger

Have you visited Craigslist lately? Incredible, really.

Like those Moroccan market bazaars straight out of an old French Foreign Legion movie: noisy, crowded, frenetic, a little schticky but useful, very useful. A place you can search for, find and drive a nifty bargain.

And a place you can get fleeced without even knowing it.

Look up "buyer beware" on Wikipedia and the Craigslist logo pops up automatically (ok, not really, but it should). I am sure there's some questionable stuff in the posts related to other professions but the "legal services" section is flat out scary.


Would you let a Jiffy Lube oil change jockey turn a wrench on your Porsche? Do you want that sweet dental assistant who cleans your teeth performing oral surgery on your gums? Or your kid's high school PTA treasurer doing your company's tax audit just because she can download an IRS form 1040 from the internet and carries a T-84 calculator in her purse? If so, good luck.

If not, then why on earth would you ever consider placing your important legal issues, issues that may change your life and the way you are allowed to live it, in the hands of anyone other than a licensed, experienced, competent and caring member of the Florida Bar.

Yeah, a lawyer. What a concept.

Sure, everyone has their favorite lawyer joke...until it's 3a.m. and you're blinking from that mug shot flash bulb and realize you're life just changed...significantly. Or maybe your bank called to tell you your house is going bye bye even though you talked to the bank officer yesterday and she okay'd another 60 day extension on the mortgage payment. Perhaps, as we talked about here, your business partner calls you from an ashram in India or worse, your husband rings from Jamaica - you can hear giggling in the background - to tell you he's sorry he had to empty the bank account...he really does love you, but maybe a divorce is a good idea after all...hug the kids!

Yeah, ok, lawyers cost money. So do good mechanics. So do dentists and doctors and chiropractors. Would you let a guy replace your roof unless you knew he had done it umpteen times before and that his shingles aren't sieves? Are you going to let some hack yank out your mom's hip and replace it based on a Craigslist ad that freely admits he isn't a surgeon but he has all the forms and scalpels and drugs he needs to "get 'er done"? Huh?

Look, most attorneys cannot do without a good paralegal or legal assistant. Love 'em! They keep our noses above the waterline and often know the mechanics of a deal as well as the lawyers. But the good ones, the trustworthy ones, aren't hocking pseudo-legal services in cleverly worded ads claiming to save you money. Pay what you want to whom you want to pay it. It's your dough. But if you hand over cash money to someone to give you blank legal papers or to "assist" in filling those papers out and later you find yourself in a hole deeper than the one you are in now, remember this post.

Then call a lawyer. Most will work with you on payment and find a way to make it affordable.

I love Craigslist. It's an incredible resource, but be smart.

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