Monday, August 4, 2014

Thoughts On Lawyers

Many people go through life never needing a lawyer. That doesn’t describe me. You can bad mouth lawyers all you want, until you need one, then you bad mouth the inept, uncaring, and unprofessional one you selected. Rightfully so. Since I spent thirty some years as one of those horrid used car salesman, I have some empathy for lawyers.

My first long encounter with the legal profession was when a contractor, doing demolition work they weren’t qualified to do, managed to dump a large structure into a building my employer was using. The contractor then compounded the problem by sitting on their collective asses for a few weeks. My employer’s law firm, Clusterfuck LLC, displayed such incompetence, other than generating billable hours, that I wouldn’t have trusted them to properly procure a pet license.

First personal encounter involved a complex financial situation. My wife and I fully disclosed all the facts, and clearly stated our desired outcome. We negotiated a set fee for the service, and paid 75% in advance. When the matter was resolved, we immediately paid the balance due. The law firm then tried to bill us for additional fees, arguing the case was more complex than they thought, and that they had spent far more time on it than anticipated. We said no. That dispute went to arbitration with the bar association. My wife and I prevailed.

One of my sons decided it was cool to drink and drive. Three arrests later he finally got his head straight. The lawyer I paid to represent him kept him out of jail, got him into the right kind of probation programs, and got one charge dismissed. Horridly expensive, but the lawyer delivered.

Yes, I know, tough love; let him suffer the consequences, yada, yada. Walk in my shoes first.

The next one involved child custody, and getting my grand children away from the birth mother, permanently. Took months, and thousands of dollars, but the lawyer my son found won custody for him. Later, another lawyer got her parental rights permanently ended, and made it possible for my daughter in law to adopt them. Again, thousands of dollars spent but the end result was worth it.

Onward, after my mother was moved into a long term care facility, real estate speculators, in collusion with a building inspector, tried to grab her house. The city, with no notice, cut the power line and shut off the water. They had a demolition contractor standing by. Once again, a good lawyer helped us stop the action. The house is still standing, and the greedy ones still haven’t turned the block into a strip mall. In fact, an office building the built across the street was vacant for four years. Made my heart glad every time I drove by. The political fallout was large. My sister, who makes an enraged pit bull look tame, used her years of building political influence to bring doom on the city employees.

I worked with a man who put himself through law school while selling cars. Spent years driving from Denver to Laramie, WY to the UW Law School for classes. I was cited for 84 MPH in a 65MPH zone. Mega dollars, and worse, mega points. Monte gave me the “brother in law” rate. Got the charge down to driving too fast for the conditions (dry and 90 degrees!) and three points. Still at lot of dollars, but the points were critical to me. Later, Monte handled a pesky failure to appear on a seat belt violation for my youngest. Seems the seat belt deal was a secondary offense, and the officer didn’t note what prompted the traffic stop, nor did he issue a citation for anything but the seat belt. Of course, my son shouldn’t have blown off the court appearance. He did have a good excuse! Once again, the application of dollars made it all go away.

When I deal with any professional, I will clearly state my desired outcome. “You’re the doctor, you’re the lawyer, or you’re the insurance agent”, isn’t happening with me. I hire them to tell me how to achieve what I want, not to tell me what I should do. The good ones don’t mind. The drones do, and that helps me weed them out.

Would I like to have all those dollars spent back in my pocket? Damn right, I would. Would I want to live with the consequences of not doing what I did? Hell no.

Don’t like your outcome? Bitch. Start with the state bar association. They want to keep their self regulation status, and they will investigate. They may not find In your favor, but it will go on record, and it just may prevent the s.o.b. from ever becoming a judge or magistrate.

My version of hell on earth is to be in a situation where the opposing lawyers have no interest in settling, so long as they keep generating billable time, and their client has no skin in the game, i.e., a public or government entity.



Old NFO said...

Excellent points all! I've done the same, and both my former and current lawyers are EX-ADAs, e.g. pit bulls... :-)

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Monte is still in my phone directory. Haven't need to call him, thankfully, except to give him shit about his Broncos.

Ami said...

So much I'd love to say right now, but alas.. those pesky non-disclosure agreements.

My grandfather hated lawyers for the most part. He really loved lawyer jokes, though. It was pretty easy to make him laugh, the jokes practically write themselves.

The last one I ever told him was this one:
Have you heard that medical schools are starting to use lawyers instead of lab rats for their experiments?

It's true.
There are three reasons for that.
One, the medical students don't get attached to the lawyers.
Two, the lawyers reproduce much faster.
And three? Well, you can get a lawyer to do things a rat wouldn't even consider.

Old NFO said...


Jselvy said...

Wasn't Bleak House by Dickens based on a case wherein the lawyers had no interest in the outcome and drug it out for 50+ years?

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Short answer? I don't know. Probably read the book back i9n the college days, but can't remember.