Websites and apps offer information on virtually every topic to anyone with access to a computer, tablet, or smart phone. When it comes to legal matters, that information is not always accurate. William “Bill” Moller of The Moller Law Group, LLC, has seen firsthand how easy access to bad information can lead to bad outcomes for people seeking legal advice.
“We live in the information age, and unfortunately many people tend to believe that if they read something on the internet it's got to be true,” said Moller, who has seen many clients get shortchanged due to misinformation, including a woman who did not get a lawyer during her divorce. “She got a horrible outcome,” he said, “and realized she had given away just about everything.”
After the divorce was finalized, the woman decided to seek professional advice. “She came to us and I didn't over promise,” said Moller. “She knew the worst outcome was that the judge would say, 'Sorry, you're stuck with what you got,' and the best we were going to do was make some modifications. We were successful and we negotiated a better deal for her.”
Moller said this reliance on hearsay for legal advice is not uncommon. “All too often we rely on what we read and what our friends and neighbors tell us. We live in a society where the divorce rate is very high, so we know someone who's gone through a divorce, but everyone’s circumstances are different. It's worth a small investment of time and money to get a consult for all legal matters,” he said.
He advises people to speak with a lawyer sooner rather than later. “Good documents make good friends. Good agreements make good outcomes. Too often by the time a client comes to us the damage has been done and we're doing damage control. If people come earlier for legal counsel it makes a difference.”
Moller has been around since well before the information age, when legal information—and misinformation—wasn’t so prevalent. His father was in the US Navy and Moller was born at a naval hospital in Great Lakes, Illinois. He earned a master’s degree at Purdue University and served his country as an infantry officer in the Ranger Battalion, then taught English Literature to cadets at West Point Military Academy and the Air Force Academy. After 21 years of duty, Moller retired from the military and earned his law degree at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, then set up his practice in Colorado Springs and Woodland Park.
Going into law was a natural decision for Bill. “When you're in the military you're having a positive effect on something directly or indirectly,” he said, “whether it's preserving the status quo or advancing freedoms. In the law we have the same responsibility—and opportunity—to protect individuals and make things right. That’s always been important to me and that's why I became an attorney.”
“We started out with just the two of us, Bill and I,” said Carla Moller, Bill’s wife of 35 years and the Chief Financial Officer at Moller Law. “We're both intimately connected with the business and everything that goes on here.” Bill said, “Gradually we added other folks. Right now there are two attorneys in the office, two paralegals and a receptionist, and we still maintain that personal touch.”
Moller Law Group recently added a second attorney, Kristen Jones. Bill noted that Kristen, a military spouse who has practiced law in other states, “has a breadth of experience in the business arena, civil actions and the like. She's very strong,” he said, and Carla added, “Kristen is very detail oriented and meticulous.”
With a college degree in mathematics and a minor in computer science, Carla Moller embraces the information age and new technologies, which she leverages to improve efficiency in the office. “Technology has changed the job immensely,” she said, “Everything's electronically filed in Colorado now. Generally speaking, legal practice can tend to be archaic and people don't want to let go of the old ways. Technology has served us well and enabled us to serve a large variety of people.” Carla uses social media to connect with the public on Twitter and Facebook, while Bill writes a blog to help educate the general public about the law.
The firm also appreciates how technologies like Skype allow its attorneys to see clients face-to-face despite busy schedules and geographic barriers. “Being in Colorado Springs gives us the opportunity to meet the needs of clients up and down the Front Range, from Denver to Pueblo and Canon City, but we've also practiced as far west as Grand Junction,” said Bill. Moller Law has even taken on clients outside the U.S. borders. “In a perfect world, we'd like our clients to be here, but in some instances—such as a recent divorce case I did for a woman living overseas whose husband is here—that would come at an incredible expense for the client. By leveraging technology we don't have to physically meet someone and we can still service them. I had a client in Africa who liked to Skype once a month. He would be in his tent in Africa and I would be here.”
The firm would like to see more use of technology in the court system. Carla said, “I'm trying to really push for electronic exhibits in court. There's no reason that we should be running off copies, putting them in huge binders and carrying them into court. Why aren't we using tablets? That would save our clients hours of our time preparing them, it saves the paper, it saves so much. We're not there yet, but I’m pushing for it – I like to be forward-thinking,” she said.
Pros and cons of technology and the information age aside, Bill Moller knows that it’s the lawyers and staff that make or break a law firm. “People want to be heard, and they want to know that someone cares – not only about their case, but about them as an individual. It’s easy to throw around those time-worn phrases, ‘We care. You can trust us,’ but those words really mean something to us.” Carla agreed that caring about people is what counts. “We get a lot of referrals from clients and sometimes from other lawyers, and as a law firm that is the highest compliment you can get.”
Rather than focus on one specific area of the law, The Moller Law Group is a one-stop shop for families and individuals, providing legal counsel on issues people deal with throughout their lives, including Family Law, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Bankruptcy, Probate, Litigation and Business Law.
“I have clients who come to me for one thing, and then come back to me for all their future legal needs,” said Bill. “That's the kind of relationship I build: People learn they can count on me to let them know if they don’t need a lawyer for a particular issue, or need to speak with someone else, or if I can give them the help they need.”
Carla noted, “Clients have told me that paying for a consult with Bill was the best money they ever spent. If they need more help they hire him, but sometimes they don't need to because he's answered all their questions and they walk out knowing exactly what they need to do. People get a lot of value for their consult fee.”
Bill Moller wants to encourage people in the information age to think twice about depending on free advice for important issues. “If you have a legal question, get it answered by someone who can actually give you a qualified answer, an answer that's based on the law and based on experience,” said Bill. “We all want a bargain. I want two dollar gas. But if you're getting something for nothing, then what you're receiving probably isn't worth very much. We have a consult fee because we're actually going to take the time to talk about your case. If you go to someone who doesn’t, they're just going to talk in generalities. Coming here, we're going to learn about you and your case, and tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly so you can make an informed decision as to how you want to proceed.”