What to ask an Equine Lawyer?

I attended the local bar association lunch last week and the presentation was by an attorney on Indian Law (Native American law).

After the presentation he sat at my table and another attorney introduced me by saying in part that I practice in the niche of "horse law."  
"Horse Law?" he said, "huh, so how do you get into that?"
I said, "well, I'm an equestrian and, as much as possible, I believe you should try to do what you love in life."

I was a bit surprised by his question.  He practices Indian law because he is an Alaskan Indian, and I practice equine law because I'm an equestrian.  But I can understand the broader implication apart from these small niches, because clearly, not all elder abuse attorneys practice in that field because they are elderly; construction law attorneys aren't necessarily contractors or architects.  


So from my conversation with him emerged some important questions you should ask an equine attorney you are considering hiring for transactional or litigation work:
  1. Do you ride or own horses, and if not, how did you end up practicing equine law?
  2. Have you had a case like mine before?
  3. What estimated costs should I expect and budget for?
  4. What is the procedural process from here? Such as timeline and what we do next?
  5. What is your recommendation or advice of how I should proceed?

All of these questions should be answered paying mind to the context of the horse community you are in, such as how your case will impact your trainer, your vet, your barn mates, your horse, etc.

I told the attorney that under U.S. law horses are largely governed by chattel (personal property) law, and he asked me why people would hire an equine-specific attorney as opposed to a general attorney 

I responded, "well, if a client came to me and said they are having an issue with a thoroughpin in the right hock potentially interfering with the collateral ligaments of the tarsi-crural joint and its impact on a proposed lease agreement for their Hanoverian's suitability for the meter ten, I wouldn't have to spend time researching what the client is talking about because that is just part of my knowledge base."  He admitted he would have to bill for his time researching the issue to be able to handle the case, though he would still be competent to handle the general business or litigation aspects of the case.

I don't want this post to sound like an advertisement- the important message I want this post to convey to readers and to the horse community is that hiring someone who knows and loves the area of law helps save you time, which also means saving you money, and it makes the conversations flow naturally when the lawyer doesn't punctuate the conversation with, "wait, what is a Hanoverian?"
When you're uncertain or anxious about legal issues, it reduces stress when you can feel comfortable on the phone with your lawyer - and you may even have fun in your meetings as you chat about the latest Thermal results.

2 comments:

L.Williams said...

Very interesting :D

Corinna Charlton said...

I'm glad you found it interesting! Your lawyer will ask YOU a lot of questions, so asking some questions of your lawyer upfront will help establish a (hopefully) great relationship!