Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Speaking of Attorneys

Another long blog that may only be of interest to my family members. Feel free to skip it.

Folks are always making comments about attorneys, and one recent comment by me on another blogger’s post was to make sure you don’t hire an incompetent one.

Unfortunately, I’ve had too many dealings with the legal establishment.

First, there are the ones involving my three sons. My first born is Autistic, and there are several challenges in estate planning and wills with handicapped heirs. I ended up writing some hefty checks.

Middle child liked to drink, get in bar fights and drive. This went on for about six years. Good criminal lawyers are expensive.

Youngest had two children with a messed up drug user. Getting her parental rights ended was in the order of tens of thousands of dollars. I don’t care, my grandchildren are safe. Our case was helped by her big mouth, lifestyle choices and hiring feminist hacks whose best moves were waving the motherhood banner, and the “all women are victim’s meme”.

I’ve had a lot of criticism, for lack of “tough love”, coddling, etc. My response is no response because I don’t give a rat’s ass about other’s opinions unless they are helping financially. I raised my two youngest on my own from the time they were eleven and thirteen. Lived with the “I would give you a hand but I’m busy wringing both of mine” input by others.

My children didn’t get a free ride. I insisted they pay what they could, that it was enough for them to feel the pain, but I used my resources to make sure they had competent counsel.

Most of my dealing with attorneys involved business dealings. The first big one involved my employer losing the use of our facility due to a contractor’s incompetence. The “high powered” Seattle law firm was stellar in billing hours and totally ineffective in reaching a resolution. One time I was deposed. Five lawyers were firing questions at me with a court reporter taking notes. My strategy was, “Who are you and who do you represent”? That changed the whole dynamic. Felt good, me intimidating them!

Same law firm sent one of their lawyers with me to Anchorage where we finalized a contract. On the way back, he was ready to kick back in business class and have some adult beverages. Bullshit. We were being billed for his time and I was determined to get our money’s worth. Don’t think he liked me. Oh, well.

These are just examples. In the retail car business, there are always customers who decide to be awkward. You get a call from their attorney or a letter, or both.  My response was no letter must be answered and to tell the caller “Feel free to sue us. Until you take us to court, don’t bother us. No, you don’t need the name of our law firm".

One lesson learned is to be very clear about what you want the attorney to accomplish. You don’t need them to tell you what to do; you need them to tell you how to legally accomplish your goals. Good ones won’t fight you. The others? Fire them.

The second lesson is, do what they advise. They are the experts, that is why you are paying them.

When I hire an attorney, I try to arrive at an agreed, all inclusive fee. This means I give them all the information and answer all their questions up front. I’ve found it keeps them focused. That doesn’t seem to be a popular options for most attorneys.

Another area I’ve had legal dealings involves my scofflaw driving habits. Usually,  I represent myself. The courts want speedy resolutions. I like to throw sand in the gears. Time-consuming, yes, but the long term costs of traffic tickets is often overlooked. In almost every case, I’ve written a check, and it went away. They don’t care if I go to the “Driver’s Classes”, just pay for them. 

One time I got written up for 93 in a 65, just two miles away from a mandatory trip to jail. Hired an attorney I knew. Ended up with an eight hour driver’s class, before the court date per my attorney’s recommendation (“Your honor, my client has taken responsibility for his actions”), a guilty plea for, “Driving too fast for the road conditions (it was a dry summer day)”, a fine, and community service. Turns out the community service was a check for the hours times the minimum wage. Damn expensive, but worth it as 3 points against the 8 points that were on the table and future hassles if I got caught again.

My divorce was worked out without attorneys. She wanted out and knew how obstinate I am. We worked out an agreement, both signed, and she went on her way. Bad move on her part as the man she left me for turned out to be all hat and no cattle.

I feel some empathy for attorneys, having spent thirty years selling cars. Neither occupation ranks high in the general public’s opinion. Of course, I don’t let the public’s opinion determine my self-esteem. 


Ami said...

I've checked. It's not legal to just walk up to a lawyer and kill him.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Those laws aren't likely to change so long as most legislators are lawyers. Glad I've never had to fight a work compensation claim.

Old NFO said...

Yep, they DO NOT like it when you actually make them EARN your money... :-)

Well Seasoned Fool said...

You are right. They are not alone in that regard. Real estate agents come to mind.

Momma Fargo said...

LOL. Can I take you with me to visit my incompetent divorce attorney?

Momma Fargo said...

+1 Old NFO

Well Seasoned Fool said...

No. I do recommend reporting any incompetent attorney to the State Bar Association. You may not profit financially, but you will create a shit storm in their professional life. Further, you may prevent them from every becoming a magistrate or judge.