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The Affordable Care Act

Why You Need a Lawyer

Why should I hire a lawyer when I can get the same advice, and cheaper, from a non-lawyer?

You get what you pay for. There are many trained professionals that may seem attractive to a business owner looking for answers. Nevertheless, compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a legal question that must be analyzed by lawyers. Lawyers will ultimately enforce ACA penalties and file lawsuits against employers under the ACA. Employers will likewise retain lawyers to defend them in administrative and judicial proceedings. Savvy business owners will involve defense lawyers early on in the process. This is very much a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Divulging confidential information to a non-lawyer is as secure as divulging confidential information to a lawyer, correct?

Wrong. Conversations with an attorney for the purposes of eliciting legal advice (i.e., how to comply with the ACA’s legal requirements) is generally protected by the attorney-client privilege. This means that a lawyer cannot repeat what they are told in confidence by a business owner without that client’s expressed permission to do so. The same privilege does not attach to conversations with non-lawyers. If you want to be completely honest about your business, and you should to get the best advice possible, hire a lawyer and take advantage of the benefits the attorney-client privilege provides.

Non-lawyers and lawyers are equally disinterested and neutral in the advice they provide, correct?

Not always. Non-lawyers often have interests that, at times, make it difficult for them to provide you with neutral advice that is in your best interest. For example, many business owners are relying on their insurance brokers for ACA compliance advice. One of the central questions in every ACA compliance program is whether to offer health insurance to employees. Brokers are typically paid in commissions. Failing to sell a client an insurance policy yields no commissions. Many business owners are being led to believe that they must buy insurance. While there are advantages and disadvantages to offering insurance, ultimately the decision to offer insurance should be made by the business owner with the benefit of knowing all potential avenues. Lawyers are ethically precluded of interest adverse to a client.

How can a lawyer help me implement ACA responses better than a non-lawyer?

There are many local, state and federal laws that regulate employer conduct in addressing the Affordable Care Act. Examples include the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Older Workers Act and the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Many employers trying to comply with the ACA run afoul of another federal employment law. Non-lawyers are typically not sufficiently familiar with the above laws to add value to a client’s legal response to a legal enactment.

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