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When It Comes to Collective and Individual Business Success, the Law Remains Key

Written By: Susan Davenport

On the surface, the importance of the legal profession to economic growth is obvious: Businesses need legal counsel to start up, incorporate, operate, transfer ownership or even shut down. But, when you take a deeper look, you’ll see that the influence of the legal profession on the economy transcends the individual products and services offered by legal firms.

In many ways, attorneys function as professional stewards of the laws that give us our individual rights as Americans to own property and companies, pursue personal happiness, choose a belief system and more.

In his scholarly article “Lawyers as Economic Drivers — The Business Case for Legal Services,”[1] Nelson P. Miller asserted that, “What makes an American nation more likely to survive and prosper in a continually new political and economic order is its founding vision — free, open, democratic, diverse, unified, and committed to eternal values. The adaptive knowledge, skills, and identity of the nation’s lawyers implement that vision, not as a professional elite but at a granular level, client by client, family by family, employer by employer.”

This quote captures the relevance of the legal profession to the individual and collective efforts of every business, organization and citizen.

The chamber’s vision of this region as a global hub of talent, innovation, and opportunity is inextricably tied to laws that empower us to execute our mission to facilitate economic prosperity, business growth and community progress. Our efforts are also tied to the laws that govern the various factors that impact business friendliness. Many of the advocacy activities the chamber has undertaken this year to advance its mission and vision — for example, supporting state legislation that would reduce or eliminate certain taxes and making it possible for Gainesville voters to decide how GRU should be governed, to name a couple — represent efforts to amend the law and/or policies to improve our business climate and quality of life.

When it comes to the issues of individual businesses, the importance of having access to an attorney can’t be overstated. Statistics indicate that the question is when, not whether, a business will need legal counsel. A 2013 study commissioned by LegalShield reported that nearly 60 percent of all small businesses had experienced a significant legal event in the previous two years. According to the Florida Courts System, from 2010 to 2015, more than 1.7 million civil lawsuits, which include contract disputes, tort cases (such as slip-and-fall, employment discrimination, wrongful death, and others), product liability, professional malpractice, auto negligence and more, were filed in Florida alone. In addition, for the same time period, more than 1.1 million civil cases were reopened. According to the Court Statistics Project, median costs for a business lawsuit start at $54,000 for a liability case, while median contract case disputes can reach approximately $91,000.

[1] NELSON P. MILLER, Lawyers as Economic Drivers — The Business Case for Legal Services, Journal of the Legal Profession, Vol. 37, No. 67 (2012)

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