Will Bartering Legal Services For Chickens Come Back In Vogue?
I've gotten to seriously thinking about this. Will bartering for legal services come back or simply become more prevalent given economic times are going to get more and more challenging?
The first people didn't buy goods from other people with money. They used barter. Barter is the exchange of personal possessions of value for other goods that you want. This kind of exchange started at the beginning of humankind and is still used today. From 9,000-6,000 B.C., livestock was often used as a unit of exchange. Later, as agriculture developed, people used crops for barter. For example, I could ask another farmer to trade a pound of apples for a pound of bananas.
Unemployment is expected to increase dramatically. But the number we don't hear about very often is the rate of 'under' employment...meaning six figure hedge fund managers asking if you'd 'like a shake with those fries?" Credit is drying up. People and small businesses still need legal services but may not have access to traditional currency as payment. What they do have are possessions or services of value.
When we first opened our law office we bartered our legal services for other services (and declared the value for tax purposes!). Got carpeting, painting, construction services because we didn't have ready cash as a start up. But now the tables have turned. People will need legal services but won't have the cash.
For instance, many bankruptcy lawyers are saying bankruptcy will be good.... for a while. But there will come a point when the clients who need bankruptcy the most won't be able to afford the fees as their credit is ruined and they won't have access to credit or ready cash and are unemployed or underemployed. Home equity lines will have been closed by the lenders and borrowing against a 401k won't be possible because of the diminished value.
If you really think about it will lawyers have to consider bartering service for services or goods, again? Doing an accountant's divorce in exchange for a decade of accounting services? Or free daycare from a newly created day care center in exchange for a small business incorporation and periodic legal advice. It's quite possible situations (or opportunities) like these could arise out of necessity.
I'm just writing about it because it wouldn't hurt to investigate the IRS rules and Rules of Professional Conduct on bartering for legal services because there may be (many) moments in the future you will have to consider this as an option.
Just typing out loud.
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