… A Word to the Wise… Law is Good….
“I BELIEVE THAT WE MUST MAINTAIN PRIDE IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THE ACTIONS WE TAKE, BASED ON OUR OWN DECISIONS AND CHOICES AS INDIVIDUALS, LINK DIRECTLY TO THE MAGNIFICENT CHALLENGE OF TRANSFORMING HUMAN HISTORY”. (SGI PRESIDENT-DAISAKU IKEDA)
I think that it’s fantastic that so many women are taking the lead and creating their own destiny through active planning and enterprise. However amongst all the breakthroughs and victories, I want to remind everyone that the rule of law is pivotal in establishing, protecting and maintaining any enterprise and or endeavor.
In addition to getting caught up in the everyday buzz of running a business and running our lives, women, especially women in developing countries, make daily business decisions and may also face daily injustices , yet they fail to take legal action or consult the law because of several factors; lack of time; ignorance and indifference; legal institutions entrenched in preserving sexist attitudes; community reaction, and gender-biased legislation aimed at preserving the economic and social dominance of men. As a woman business owner, you have the right and the obligation to preserve your hard work and legacy. My recommendation to all of you is to USE the law to protect yourselves, your assets, your business and your family. This may seem daunting to some of you, but here are several suggestions.
First and foremost, when possible, retain counsel. If you can’t afford an attorney, many countries have legal clinics that provide services at reduced cost or that provide referrals to attorneys that provide services at a reduced cost. You may also want to consult professors at a local law school. Many academics are willing to advise for free or for a nominal amount.
Second, if you can’t afford a lawyer on your own, set up a group fee situation. For example, a group of women will pay a fraction of the total costs of having a lawyer on retainer, and all women in the group will have access to this lawyer for her particular needs. Make sure there is an agreement delineating the rights and responsibilities of all parties, including that of the attorney involved. For instance, a group of women may pool funds to get legal counseling on business issues and /or business and personal issues for one year. That contract may provide that each subscriber, based on what is paid either monthly, quarterly or annually, will receive 2 hours of advice per month and a half-hour of over the phone or face-to –face consultation. It’s your money, so be creative when requesting various services because it is important that everyone’s needs are met. For example, the group may decide to have unused hours rolled over into the next month, or you can also agree on transferring your hours to another member of the group if needed. Just remember to make sure all rights and responsibilities are clearly spelled out in the retainer agreement.
If getting counsel is totally out of your realm, then use the Internet for research. The Internet is an excellent resource for current information on laws that regulate your business and laws affecting many other aspects of your daily life. However, please make sure that the information is current, and do consistent research to see if any changes have been made or are expected. If you do not understand what you have read, ask around. Again, a local law school is always a great resource.
Why am I so adamant about this you may ask? I believe that as women we must always be ready to assert our prowess. If not, no matter how much money we have, we will never be taken seriously. So what better way to show what you’re made of then to have the law working on your side!
So until next time ladies… keep it real, keep it profitable and make it legal.
By ALEXANDRA DOLCE, ESQUIRE