This week we're talking about three reasons why you should not get legal documents from the internet or a friend.
I know it's tempting as you're either just starting out, or you're expanding, and you need to find something that will cover you and not cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars. I understand that most people go to Facebook and Google to find some templates, and others may alternatively borrow from a friend or a colleague. However, today we're going to talk about three reasons why you should not do that. I will also cover other alternatives you can consider that are great quality, cost effective, and will cover you completely.
The whole reason Functional Lawyer exists is that the alternative to a law firm was... nothing. "Nothing" often ends up being Google, Facebook, and peers-- otherwise known as the worst law firm on the planet (Google, Facebook & Peers LLP). Basically, you can equate using Google, Facebook, & Peers for law advice to your patients using Web MD for all their medical advice. You don't want your patient who is deficient in nightshades, for example, coming in and saying, "Well, I Googled it and found that I shouldn't eat nightshades. Also, Tom Brady doesn't eat nightshades. And a WebMD article tells me that I shouldn't as well." When in fact, they're deficient in nightshades and that would absolutely be the wrong diet for them. Unfortunately, people often seek important guidance, whether it be medical or law-related, from the internet. Even more, unfortunately, they often find something random that sounds good to them because they don't know the difference. If you didn't go to law school, then you don't have the proper training or expertise. Just like if your patient didn't go to medical school, they don't have the proper training to offer any wisdom or guidance. Additionally, there's a lot of information from professional to professional that just doesn't cut it on Google or Facebook. As a doctor, you do not give blanket statements that apply to every patient. Lawyers also do not give blanket statements for every client. You need to find an expert who is familiar with your particular situation.
The number one reason why you shouldn't borrow or steal somebody's document is that it likely isn't very good for you. Even if they claim that they got it from an attorney or a friend of a friend who's an attorney, you don't know who that attorney is or even if they do health care law! You need to derive documents for YOUR business from a specialized attorney who will look at YOUR business. Just like doctors and health professionals, lawyers have their specialties. For instance, I know just enough about trademark law to talk about it, but I couldn't file a trademark application because that's a specialty practice. Similarly, you want to make sure that you're getting your documents from a trusted source. I've seen a lot of them out there that come for free with some EMRs, or that come with some educational programs, and they are okay at best and horrible at worst. If it's not written for Functional Medicine providers by a trusted source, it's probably not doing what you think it's doing or what you need it to do.
Another reason why you shouldn't borrow a friend's document is that it's possible you could be stealing somebody else's work that they paid for. If they went to a law firm or they paid someone like me for a template that was really good and specifically for them, sharing it would actually be a violation of copyright. (My kids have memorized the copyright warning that accompanies the audiobooks we play in the car.) You do not want to get yourself in trouble for a copyright violation. Your friend could get in trouble, too for violating their license or the copyright of the author.
My final reason for not obtaining legal documents from friends or the internet is that it's just not professional. It's not professional to find something on Google and call it a day. This is your business, and for most of you, it's your primary source of income. So, just like getting malpractice, why wouldn't you invest in something that was good for you, going to protect you, and of high quality? Also, you can do all that without breaking the bank. Money aside, most importantly, you want to treat your business like a professional business. If you treat it like it's a side hobby or just a scrappy little startup, then it will likely always be that. Your goal may not be to become the next Mark Hyman, and that's fine, but you should treat your business like a big-boy business! Be professional. Be a champion for yourself and your entity. Treat your work like you are running a professional business, remembering that you are the CEO. I know that this is hard for a lot of healthcare providers to be a CEO when you've been a worker bee in conventional medicine, but that's what you've got to do. You've got to be the CEO and run a professional business. I'm not saying that you have to walk around with a fake Rolex, pretending to be something that you are not. But you do need to take ownership of your professionalism, and you do need to protect your income source and your whole reputation as well.
I promised some alternatives to spending thousands upon thousands of dollars, especially since I know many of you have unfortunately already spent $20,000 or more on attorney fees and such. As you might have guessed, an alternative option, and one that will not break the bank but will give you all you need, is Functional Lawyer. We have templates for Functional Medicine providers on top of our membership, which includes access to questions and answers from me directly. The templates were written and reviewed by a law firm, along with my input and individual review. Our materials were written for Functional Medicine providers to cover Functional Medicine providers.
Another reason that Functional Lawyer documents and templates are better than a Google document is that they come with video instructions. You're going to need to edit any document you get if it's a template source. If you don't know what you're doing, you're no better than your patient who is gathering advice from WebMD. They do not know how to implement the information. Likewise, you will need to know how to properly use the templates and use them as a tool. If you don't know how to use them properly, then they are not doing what they're intended to do, and they are probably not going to be covering you. This is why Functional Lawyer also provides additional guidance, such as coinciding videos, to fully assist you.
Your other option is to go to a law firm. If that's the option that you're choosing, I have some tips on how to find a law firm that's right for you. First off, ask about price transparency. Just the other week someone emailed me saying, "Scott, I heard your talk the other day, and I am one of those people that paid the $5,000 retainer. And then about six months later I got a bill for another $13,000, out of the blue." Make sure that if you're going to a law firm, you talk about price transparency and ask how much it will cost. If they know what they're doing and want to be of service to you and not just view you as a client, they will give you a ballpark number and they ought to stay right around there.
But, before you can get price transparency, you need to find an attorney who actually knows what Functional Medicine is. This can be harder than you think. As I mentioned earlier, attorneys have different specialties, even healthcare attorneys may not know what Functional Medicine is or how to specifically help you. Almost a decade ago, I went to a healthcare attorney in my firm and asked him for some support and help when starting my wife's Functional Medicine business. We ended up paying him $2,500, but he didn't really help us at all! So, we just ended up being out $2,500, which, when you're first starting your business, is a significant blow. In that first year or so, when there are already many start-up costs, we lost valuable time and money that we could have saved and used for better purposes.
Additionally, if you are not using good, quality legal documents, you're in a position where you don't really trust or stand behind your documents, forms, or materials. Then, when someone asks for a refund, or they asked you to waive a termination fee, you kind of cower down and do it because you don't know if you can stand by what you have written or if you're breaking any laws. If you get a document that's free, it actually may cost you more in the long run from both a professional standpoint and giving out refunds to patients. What I submit is that these "free" materials are actually very expensive.
Those are the top reasons, and there are many more, to not get a form from somebody else or from Google or Facebook. If you have any questions about your forms, or if you need to know where to get new ones for you, go to functionallawyer.com, or you can always email us at [email protected] and set up an appointment to talk to me directly. I can help guide you, navigate, and pick the right forms for you. And, if it's appropriate, we can even talk about the benefits of a Functional Lawyer membership.