The Importance of Public Records in Law
By the RecordsFinder Scholarship Winner Tiffany Talley
In today’s world, where the U.S. president openly tries to cover up major investigations and attacks media reporters by saying their goal is to sell “fake news,” it has never been more critical for the people to have access to information. Public records involve information that is legally not required to remain confidential and can be obtained by ordinary people through the rights granted by laws such as the Freedom of Information Act. In my chosen field of employment: corporate law, public records can be a substantial resource.
The Role of Public Records in choosing a Business Partner
For example, I may need to do an investigation on a potential company partner. To determine whether or not to recommend that my employer enter a contractual agreement with a company, I would need to do some research on its history and the background of its affiliates. Corporations get exposed all the time for morally and legally repugnant business practices and career-ending extracurricular activities. If the company’s history said they had faced multiple bankruptcies, tax liens, property liens, copyright infringement, fraud, or breach of contract, I would recommend finding a better partner. I could also look into the history of the top associates at the company to see if they had ever been accused of tax evasion, have an arrest record, view their education level, and other facts indicating their ability to be trustworthy and competent in the role.
Be Aware of Scams!
Sometimes people look appealing at first but hide a much more sinister personality. There was a show about a man that scammed dozens of people out of their retirement money despite having a criminal record showing a history of charges for fraud and forgery. Those people easily could have saved themselves a wealth of heartbreak by looking into his identity, but people tend to trust those with charisma. Public records are made available to prevent tragedies like this one. If my research doesn’t match what the representatives of the company are alleging, that indicates a major red flag that needs to be taken seriously.
Find Areas of Improvement
I can also utilize these records to prepare for interviews at companies, which I am considering for employment. An excellent way to prepare for a position or find areas of improvement is to search public records for information related to me. Most people can recall reading someone’s bio in an advertisement, at a ceremony, or in a book and thinking to themselves, “wow!, I wish my resume was this impressive.” By looking up what is listed under my name in my personal records, I can see how much people can discover about me. It is important to know how you represent yourself on paper. Some judgments during the hiring process are made before you even show up for an interview. An excellent way to prepare your answers to questions for the interview and choose a company, is to look into previous employees. If a lawyer they worked with in the past has previously sued them for failure to pay lawyer fees, that may be an employer I want to avoid. I would also need to be wary of potential employers that have sued their lawyers for malpractice. I can prepare for interviews by assembling a portfolio that showcases my proficiency in handling specific types of cases, situations, and skills that the company has used in its hiring process. I can also use my knowledge to pose a case for why I would be more proficient than previous hires. Explaining exactly how I would avoid or improve on prior mistakes made by my predecessor will help me to stand out in comparison with others being interviewed. Another helpful thing for my job search would be the ability to find the cities with the most people searching for lawyers in my field of specialization.
Lawsuits & Court Records
Access to certain court records would aid in preparation for the many different types of lawsuits that I may face during my time representing the company. Although there are some restrictions on access to court documents, a plethora of information related to court proceedings is available. I can gain insight on how to direct my presentation of information to the judge by looking into hearings on similar cases. Some judges tend to rule the same way on certain types of cases, regardless of small differences in the facts. I can also find information about the opposing side’s attorney such as the cases they tried, how much experience they have under their belt, and how they have performed with similar cases in the past. Witnesses can be screened before being put on the stand, by checking background info such as prior criminal offenses, marriages, and other personal details. Calling a witness to the stand who is not credible or has an inconsistent story can make your client’s argument look very weak.
All points considered, public records play a major role in my career of choice: law. While many people fail to think about the value of these records, they provide transparency of specific concerns that should be made available to all citizens by their government. These records, while containing simple information, can reveal key points about a person’s identity and their transactions of businesses. Although some people are concerned about too much being available to their neighbors, it is important for people to be able to see and understand why the government monitors some information.