No Litigation Hesitation

, , , , , , | Legal | October 23, 2018

I am a very experienced, expensive lawyer who has worked in the area of family law for over nineteen years. I am well known in my field, and have acted for people in expensive, protracted disputes.

I say this because the capacity of some clients to think that for “reasons” they know more about family law than I never ceases to amaze me.

My favourite was when a client was determined to take a course of action (involving the commencement of litigation rather than trying to resolve matters by way of a negotiation) which I had no doubt would cost him more in legal costs and result in a less favourable outcome.

Because I’m not an idiot, I advised him against his preferred course of action clearly, and confirmed my advice by way of letter, which he countersigned.

About a year later, the client had spent maybe $30,000.00 more in legal costs than he should have, and received the same, if not worse, outcome than would have occurred in a negotiated outcome.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, he was furious with me, although he knew that my advice had been clear and, because he’d countersigned the letter, he couldn’t deny receiving it.

I asked what on earth I had done wrong. His response will live with me until my dying day:

“YOU SHOULD HAVE WORKED HARDER TO CONVINCE ME.”

Sometimes… I just can’t.

Those Student Loans Don’t Pay Themselves

, , | Right | October 13, 2018

(I have just explained our program to a caller who wants to make his small business an incorporation, and I’ve just gotten to the $25 referral fee we charge.)

Caller: “Yeah, I can’t believe that!”

Me: “Can’t believe… what?”

Caller: “You charge me for a referral to a lawyer? Are you serious?”

Me: “One hundred percent serious, sir.”

Caller: “I’m a mechanic, and we would never do that!”

Me: “You don’t charge for your services? Can I make an appointment for my car to have a complete engine rebuild?”

(Pause.)

Me: *PAINFULLY polite* “Are you still interested in a referral, sir?”

Caller: “Yeah, yeah…”

A Bad Sign(ature)

, , , , , | Legal | September 28, 2018

In the late 1990s to early 2000s, I was a tech at a small computer store. A woman brought in her malfunctioning computer and paid a rush charge to have it looked at right away. While I was checking her machine in, she was going on and on about being an attorney and needing the computer fixed quickly to be able to serve her clients. I handed her our standard disclaimer about data loss, etc., and asked her to sign.

Before I could finish explaining what it was, she grabbed my pen, signed the form without looking at it, and walked off.

I made note of her name in case I ever needed an attorney, so I could remember not to use her.

 

Doesn’t Exempt You From Being An A**hole

, , , | Legal | September 23, 2018

(I work in a hotel. In any business, tax exemption in the US is a huge pain in the ass. The rules are Fizzbin-esque, and when someone turns out to not be exempt for whatever reason, they always pitch a fit, even though it’s the freaking LAW. This guest is another matter, though. While I’m working the front desk, a guest comes up to hand me a piece of paper.)

Guest: “I need you to deliver this to the general manager, and you need to sign this copy for me stating that you received it.”

Me: *immediately wary* “I’m sorry, what is this regarding?”

Guest: “Just read it. And sign my copy. What you’re doing is illegal!”

(I do read the letter. It is apparently a notice threatening legal action if the guest does not receive his taxes back from us, as well as some more colorful demands regarding penalties levied when a tax-exempt entity is denied their exemption status. Note that he was charged taxes due to refusing to produce an ID when presenting his disabled veteran card. While there isn’t TECHNICALLY a law stating that you have to show an ID, most people would appreciate that we are trying to prevent someone from mooching off of their benefits by using a stolen benefit card. After some conferencing between the Manager On Duty and me, and a call to the GM, we decide to acquiesce and sign his copy, adding a note that the signature ONLY acknowledges our receipt of the letter and not any promise of action.)

Guest: “Fine! Add your note! I don’t care. I’m a lawyer, and I know my rights!”

(He takes his letter and leaves, and I just shake my head. The MOD gets a chance to read the letter in full.)

MOD: “Oh, my God! He wants [Front Desk Worker] and [Supervisor] charged $500 each for refusing his card! That’s more than they make in a week!”

Me: “I know. I feel bad for his clients if he really is a lawyer.”

MOD: “Why?”

Me: “Well, according to the passage he helpfully quoted in this letter, any institution denying tax exempt status will be fined $500 per infraction. So, he could plausibly have the hotel fined…. but [Front Desk Worker] and [Supervisor] are just employees. They can’t be personally fined. What an a**hole.”

(By the way, the amount he wanted two workers to lose more than a week’s pay over? Less than $6.)

Legal Lightning Struck Twice

, , , , | Legal | September 22, 2018

When I was six years old, my father was struck by lightning while he was lowering a wheelchair ramp for the last passenger on his bus. Thankfully, he survived, but the injuries put an end to him working. Since it happened while he was on the job, this was clearly a case for workers’ comp. The problem? Dad was working for the city, who in turn controlled workers’ comp. Long story short, they desperately did not want to pay. So, my parents needed to get a lawyer.

While preparing the case, my mother asked about getting a hold of the aforementioned passenger, who was the only witness to my dad being struck. The lawyer waved her concerns away. “They’re not contesting the fact that he got hit,” he said.  

Flash forward much, much later to their meeting with the opposition. The workers’ comp lawyers’ argument? “We don’t know for sure that he was even hit by lightning at all!”

Mom was livid, especially since by this time, the witness had moved out of town. Fortunately, a family friend had taken it upon herself to track the guy down, and he was able to testify that, yes, my dad was hit by an enormous bolt of electricity, and the “singed and delirious” look wasn’t just a new fad he felt like trying.

Phase two was, “But surely taking one billion volts to the head didn’t hurt him any,” but that’s another story.

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