In this week’s episode of Attorney Talk, Ken Thayer interviews Rob Schenk, who is a trial attorney that practices in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, California, and New York. Since 2012, Rob has become one of America’s predominant wedding lawyers and is the editor of WeddingIndustryLaw.com. During the episode, Ken and Rob discuss what wedding lawyers do, liquated damages, how wedding law is different to business litigation, contract inclusions, WedForms, and dispute resolutions.
Main Questions Asked:
- What is a wedding lawyer?
- Is this a practice where you have to be a member of the bar in the particular state where your clients are located?
- Which states are more open to hybrid contract tort claims in wedding cases?
- Is there still a requirement that, if you are pleading out you suffered an emotional distress, it has to be backed up with medical evidence?
- Have vendors received pushback from clients?
- Are your adversaries attorneys who usually get involved with contract disputes after the alleged breach occurred?
- Talk about Web Forms.
- Do most of these contract disputes get litigated, or get resolved prior?
Key Lessons Learned:
The Wedding Lawyer
- The wedding industry is a billion-dollar industry worldwide.
- Issues include venues being double-booked, photographers losing SD cards.
- A wedding lawyer represents the client or the vendor in lawsuits.
- The majority of Rob’s practice is defensive and on the preventative, which involves contracts. His clients include wedding professionals such as DJs and photographers. Other lawyers represent the clients.
- When it comes to the dispute side of it, Rob only counsels clients in the states in which he is licensed. Your demands have to be backed-up with a lawsuit, and to file a lawsuit you have to be licensed.
- With regards to the transactional side, Rob likes to draft contracts and provide advice to clients in the states he is licensed in.
- There are issues in weddings that aren’t present in other industries such as liquidated damages.
- This is the largest value Rob brings to the table when he drafts a contract. This aims for the vendor to keep as much of the value of the contract as possible if the client cancels.
Wedding Law is Different
- Most of the time torts and contracts don’t mix, but can when you are dealing with the once in a lifetime engagement.
- A lawsuit that would normally be a breach of contract lawsuit becomes a potential intention infliction of emotional distress.
- Some trial judges are allowing what would normally be a breach of contract damage to flow into tort damage.
- The regions that have the high value weddings are the ones that have the most amount of cases taken up on appeal.
- The cases where the negligence claims are tacked on are in New York and California, where the most expensive weddings happen.
- In the contracts Rob writes, he tries to make sure there is an indemnity clause and limited liability clause.
- How well the limited liability clause is going to protect you from what a trial judge or jury might see as intentional conduct isn’t yet known.
- The pushback the vendors receive is generally because either the bride or the groom is a lawyer.
- This is a LegalZoom for the wedding industry.
- Rob has drafted thousands of wedding and event-based contracts, and took the overarching principals of each specific industry and boiled it down to templates to use in states that Rob doesn’t service.
- Getting a negative review on Yelp, Wedding Wire, or The Knot can destroy a business. Unhappy clients will threaten taking this action even before the mention of a lawsuit.
- Most cases get settled before the filing of a lawsuit.
- Most of the time there is never a wedding that is worth the cost of litigation.
- The wedding professional often wants silence in the matter and assurance that they won’t be sued.
- The client generally wants money back.
Links to Resources Mentioned
Wedding Industry Law