Choosing the Right Amazon Seller’s Lawyer or Consultant: What You Need to Know
At ESQgoⓇ, we receive a lot of questions from prospective clients wanting to know what the difference between a consultant and an attorney is when dealing with Amazon-related suspensions and disputes. They also want to know why they should choose ESQgoⓇ over other law firms. With the all-important Amazon Q4 right around the corner and so much at stake for Amazon sellers, an Amazon seller lawyer from our firm addresses what you need to know when making the decision of who to retain for your business.
When an attorney agrees to represent a client, they are bound by attorney-client confidentiality throughout that representation. This means that they, as well as their staff, cannot discuss your case with anyone else. The Amazon seller lawyer must also obtain your permission before they reveal what is going on in your case to experts that have been retained to help you. This makes a difference because we have found that a potential client is more comfortable revealing all details of their story when they know it will not be repeated to others. This type of privilege does not exist with consultants.
Also, before an attorney can represent you, they must complete a conflict check. This is done to ensure that they have not in the past (and are not currently) representing the person or entity you are disputing. Clients can rest assured their counsel does not have an interest in the other side being successful. Consultants are not required to perform a conflict check.
Government Oversight Agency
One key difference to be aware of between attorneys and consultants is that consultants do not report to anyone. Attorneys, on the other hand, report to the bar in the state for which they are licensed. Attorneys respect their governing bar, as they know it holds the ability to limit or terminate their ability to practice law.
Amazon IP Lawyer on Staff
Consultants are not attorneys, and many law firms, while willing to take on your case, do not have IP (intellectual property) attorneys on staff. If you, as an Amazon seller, are in need of an attorney to help with your Amazon suspension or dispute, you want an Amazon IP lawyer that knows what they are doing. You do not want a lawyer that is focused on another area of the law, such as personal injury or workers’ compensation.
At ESQgoⓇ, you know the attorney you work with is an Amazon IP lawyer. If you are considering another firm or attorney to help with your Amazon seller legal issue, ask them if an Amazon IP lawyer will be handling your case. This information should be listed on their marketing materials as well.
Responsibility vs. Liability
The difference between responsibility and liability is very subtle and would not be obvious to a layperson. However, it is a difference that we have seen make a huge impact on clients’ cases.
When a person or entity has a legal duty to perform, or refrain from performing, a certain action and they breach that duty they may be held liable. This means that they can be held legally responsible for that breach. This is quite a leap from commonplace responsibility that does not impose a legal duty.
Where we have seen this most often become an issue is when we are in arbitration with a client, and the attorney for Amazon presents a POA (plan of action) that our client previously signed to have their account reinstated (either when they did not have a lawyer or had different counsel). The POA contains language to the effect that the client agrees that they violated a policy or infringed on a trademark, thereby making them liable. A simple change in wording to say that the client “allegedly” violated a policy for infringing on a trademark can make all the difference. Strategic wording is key. Our Amazon seller lawyer has seen other attorneys make this critical distinction, but never a consultant.
Licensed & Registered In Washington State
Right now you may be wondering why you should care if your Amazon seller lawyer is licensed and registered in Washington state. Amazon is headquartered in Washington state, and the BSA (Business Solutions Agreement) that all sellers agreed to as a condition to selling on Amazon’s platform states that the rules of Washington state will be used to interpret the BSA. At ESQgoⓇ, our Amazon seller lawyer is licensed and registered in Washington State.
AAA Arbitration Experience
The BSA states that any arbitration you as an Amazon seller enter into with Amazon must be conducted by the AAA (American Arbitration Association). It is very important that the attorney representing you before the AAA knows what they are doing. Before hiring an Amazon seller lawyer, inquire about their experience before the AAA. Have they ever forced a settlement during arbitration? Have they ever gone through the entire arbitration process and prevailed? The answers to these questions can help you decide whether or not an attorney is a good fit to represent you.
ESQgoⓇ conducts a legal analysis early on in the representation process. This is done by gathering information, including what Amazon states you did wrong, as well as all relevant policies, procedures, guidelines, and laws. We then compile all this information into a confidential document that we only share with you, our client. In it, we will explain whether or not our Amazon seller lawyer believes you breached your seller agreement. Our opinion in this document offers you a completely unbiased view of the situation.
Keep in mind, this compilation is for your eyes only. Amazon will not have access to the document. The reason behind our completing this confidential record is to inform and educate you. If you, or your staff, have done something that is considered a breach of Amazon’s terms and conditions, then you can use the information we provide to educate your company so the breach does not occur again. Also, nothing we conclude in our investigation will affect our representation of you in the current legal matter. Whether you committed a breach or not, you will receive top-tier advocacy from our firm.
Consultants cannot provide a legal analysis, and we are unaware of any other firm that performs this service for its clients.
Ongoing Legal Support
At ESQgoⓇ, we take pride in maintaining an open line of communication with our clients. In addition to the normal back-and-forth that accompanies representation, we also offer open office hours once a month. This entails an Amazon seller lawyer from our firm being available online for 2-2.5 hours per month to answer non-confidential questions in a group setting. We do not bill for these sessions. We feel they are a great way for our clients to address their concerns while learning from the questions asked by others.
In addition to our open office hours, ESQgoⓇ maintains an internal list of vetted, reputable, and trusted vendors. While we do not offer copies of this list to clients, when a client needs a referral for a specific service, we are able to recommend and introduce to them a trusted professional for that service. Examples include CPAs and attorneys who practice in other fields, such as estate planning or personal injury law. Again, this service is offered at no additional charge to our client.
Consultants, of course, cannot offer legal support, and we do not know of any other firm that offers these services to their clients free of charge.
License Suspension or Discipline
This topic goes hand-in-hand with the government oversight mentioned earlier. Before retaining an Amazon seller lawyer, it is in your best interest to check and see if that attorney has ever been suspended or disciplined by their state bar. This information is actually available online in most states. You can look up the bar website for that particular state and see any suspensions or disciplinary actions that have been taken against an attorney. In some states, if there is a suspension or disciplinary action listed, you may be able to see what it was for. At ESQgoⓇ, our attorneys have never been suspended or disciplined. For other law firms, it depends on the firm.
Consultants, as we have already discussed, do not have to report to a bar. However, you may be able to check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) to see how they are rated and if any complaints have been lodged against them.
Synthetic ArbitrationⓇ is a trademarked service created and offered exclusively by ESQgoⓇ. It is utilized right before arbitration and entails an Amazon seller lawyer from our firm reaching out to counsel for Amazon in Washington state. We explain to them our position and list for them our demands. Amazon’s attorneys will then conduct their own research and respond to us. While there are no guarantees with Synthetic ArbitrationⓇ, we have had phenomenal success with this process. We’ve had a client that was suspended for five years (after having tried other law firms and consultants) to become reinstated as an Amazon seller through Synthetic ArbitrationⓇ. We have another client receive an inventory reimbursement in the millions via Synthetic ArbitrationⓇ.
Consult With An Amazon Seller Lawyer at ESQgoⓇ
An Amazon seller lawyer at ESQgoⓇ is here to help with all your Amazon-related suspensions and disputes. We can be reached by calling 888-600-1925 or via our contact page. We offer a free initial one-hour consultation.