Setting up a solid, reliable network of legal help in all the countries you have interests in is not just good sense, it’s often obligatory.
It’s not easy to find folks you can trust… perhaps this is especially true of those in the attorney game.
Over the past seven years in this editorial gig, I’ve done my fair share of country scouting. Basically, I go to a place where we have no business infrastructure already set up, and I try to build one.
I schedule dozens of meetings before setting off—keeping in mind Lief’s obligatory benchmarks of:
- At least three lawyers
- At least three real estate agents (but usually many more—these are the easy ones!)
- At least one property and/or rental manager (one company doesn’t always do both things)
- At least one developer (one not associated with any of the real estate agents)
- At least three expats (preferably of different types—couples, singles, retirees, working folks, etc.)
I meet with them all in order to try to separate the wheat from the chaff. I like to try to meet with expats first, because, through them, I often get several referrals. If I’m able, I set up additional meetings with these new contacts.
Sometimes, the referrals overlap with meetings already on the books—a great chance for me to get unadulterated feedback before I even meet the service providers. Other times, it’s not a referral I get but a bad review—all the better in my opinion. I stick with my schedule and meet with the perpetrator nevertheless so I can add it to my repertoire of experience… and hopefully pinpoint some of the ways to tell if a person is worth trusting by trying to reconcile the feedback with the person “IRL.”
When it comes down to it, referrals are really the best—sometimes the only—way to pick someone to work with…
When you hire a plumber in your hometown, for example, how do you do it? If it’s not through a friend, family member, or neighbor referral, it’s through some user-review app, right? Angie’s List was the big one back when I lived in the States, but I’m sure there are a dozen more now.
Bringing someone into your life in any capacity is always a gamble—the best way to mitigate the risk is by trusting the middleman. You generally trust your friend or your aunt… or at least you know them well enough to know how far to trust their feedback.
But you don’t take the word of the guy you’re handing the check to. Netflix’ “Grace and Frankie” has a great example of this…
A contractor comes to Grace’s (Jane Fonda’s) house and plays on her sympathies by pretending to have been highly recommended by her former paramour contractor, now dead—no better out than that, is there? She certainly trusted her old flame, and how can she ever check up on the new guy? Desperate to cling to any connection to her dead lover, she handed the guy a check on the spot. She came back to find her house gutted of all valuables, down to the copper piping.
So, how do you go about finding trustworthy help in places where you can’t count on friends and family for referrals? Where there may not be helpful sites or apps at all or none that you can take confidence in?
You do the legwork, as I explained in our vetting process above…
You meet with many of each person…
You try to meet with some other foreigners and hear what they have to say.
You put on your cynic’s cap and take everything with a generous helping of salt…
You try to learn at least some of the local language if you can, or you find a translator you can trust to accompany you on these meetings.
This leads me to another critical point about language…
It’s easy to fall into trusting people just because they speak your language. Partly because it’s a relief to be back in your mother tongue, but maybe, too, because you figure that if they speak English so well, it must be because they have experience working with foreigners…
This is one of the easiest rookie mistakes to make… and it can also happen when you start to form friends in expat circles. Back home you have higher standards for making friends—you look for someone you have some significant things in common with. But overseas, the commonality of language is one of the greatest unifiers—it’s practically all you need to make a friend.
But speaking your language doesn’t make for a trustworthy person, be they friend or service provider. Again, you’ve got to be cynical—now more than ever. Why does that guy give such a nasty review of this agent? Why do they speak so highly of another? It could be harmless and genuine… or there could be some ulterior motive. You just never know.
This is where we try to make things a little easier for you… we’ve done this legwork, often over years and years of vetting in a given country. My family’s network of friends across the globe counts many lawyers… these are the people we’ve had dealings with for so long—in some cases a decade or more—that friendship has come about organically. We’ve even vacationed with some, and we certainly wouldn’t get so close to them personally, let alone recommend them to others, if we didn’t trust them 100%.
It’s these folks that will be in the room at our Offshore Wealth Summit—Oct. 9–11, in Panama City—where, along with Lief, they’ll walk you through all your options for protecting your wealth and safeguarding your future… something that’s critical in these crazy, ever-changing times in which we find ourselves.
If safety and stability are close to your heart, don’t miss out on your only chance this year to be in the room with our full offshore team… and make your plans for a future that will give you and your loved ones more freedom, safety, and wealth… all with the right counsel by your side.
To join us in Panama City this October—at the lowest price we’ve ever offered—book one of the last remaining seats here.
Editor, Live and Invest Overseas Confidential