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In the construction industry, legal challenges and payment disputes are common. When not handled correctly, these issues can cause payment delays, sour relationships, and even stop work. 

According to construction attorney Jody Winter,“Construction companies are particularly vulnerable to legal issues because of the nature of this industry. There are a lot of funds flowing through a typical construction contract. Anytime you have large amounts of money involved, the greater the risk of litigation. Most of these cases are worth pursuing. Especially when you’re talking about liens because those subcontractors need to get paid.”

Jody is a provider lawyer for Levelset’s Legal Guard, a new service that connects construction businesses with construction lawyers in their area for a fraction of the cost of regular legal services.  

We recently sat down with Jody to discuss how having a construction lawyer in your corner can help businesses deal with the common legal challenges in this industry. 

Many people don’t think about calling in a lawyer until a legal issue comes up. But, being proactive and making sure your business is protected before you begin work on a job can save you time and money down the line. 

“It’s known in this industry that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” says Jody.

So much relies on the contract, for example. A good construction contract clearly lays out the expectations of all parties on the work to be performed. It sets clear guidelines for payment and change orders should they become necessary. Also, a good contract is compliant with any and all regulations specific to where the work will be done. 

In construction, oral agreements or handshake deals can sometimes be enough to get work started on a project. However, failure to properly document the agreement–or using an out-of-date or boilerplate contract–puts your business at a disadvantage if problems should come up. 

 “We’re here to help resolve a dispute before it happens, or set the client up for a good result should there be any disputes,” says Jody. “When we are simply reacting to what has already happened, it’s not as beneficial as protecting the clients on the front end.” 

You’ll form a relationship that sets your business up for success

Traditionally, only larger businesses with lawyers on retainer or those that qualified for assistance could afford regular legal counsel. Small and medium-sized businesses were usually left to deal with legal issues as best able on their own. 

Legal Guard is changing that by connecting construction businesses directly to a local attorney for a small, monthly fee and includes contract reviews and free phone consults. 

“No one wants to hire an attorney to review a contract or provide some basic advice because it takes time and you may not have a relationship with the attorney,” says Jody. “But when you have access to legal help, you have that relationship already. You know what’s covered and the relationship is defined from the outset.” 

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He adds, “As a lawyer, something like Legal Guard allows us to do what we really want to do which is to provide wise counsel.”

Of course, in the construction industry, things can turn on a dime. If a dispute does arise, having a lawyer on call who has knowledge and insight into your project puts you at an advantage. Rather than bringing in an attorney to work backwards from problems, you can rest easy knowing you already have an attorney in your corner that understands how to help you get paid. 

You can stop sweating the red tape and focus on what you do best

Working with a construction attorney before the job begins means you’ll spend less time redoing paperwork or getting burned by disputes. Having that regular connection with an attorney also reflects positively on your reputation, showing that you take your work seriously.

“Recently I worked with a painting subcontractor who is subscribed to Legal Guard,” Jody said. “We were able to review contracts and talk about attorney’s fees, choice of law and venue, and the parts of a contract that seem basic but have major issues in litigation. By talking through these things, we helped them avoid the risks, so they’ve been really happy with the program.” 

Legal Guard shifts the paradigm of the attorney-client relationship. It’s a win-win for both sides, that allows the attorney to set their client up for success. The client meanwhile can focus on their work, and rest assured that they’re covered and protected if they run into any problems. 

Ready to protect your business with your own personal attorney? 

The future of construction legal services is here, and it’s efficient, cost effective, and expanding legal access to businesses of all sizes. 

“I really feel that this is the future of legal help in the construction industry because now, finding what you need is just a few clicks away. The Internet, and services like Legal Guard, are making things much more efficient so that construction businesses can have successful outcomes in legal disputes,” Jody explained.

Visit the Legal Guard website to learn how you can get connected to an attorney in your area today. 

Get materials now, keep your cash.

Enjoy 120-day payback terms with any material supplier.