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A Little Legal Advice

Updated on January 23, 2024

Understanding How Law Firms Operate

Law Firms, even to an extent, sole practitioners, are influenced by "Billables".

Billables is the simple term for how much money one can gain from representation. Clients who have a LOT of money, who bring in a LOT of work are of great financial benefit.

At Law Firms, Senior members take the Five Star Clients. As the 'Stars' decrease so does the standing of the Attorney. The newbie just arrived from Law School is at the bottom and gets the least financially beneficial cases.

Even if Senior Members interview a Nobody, they'll fling the matter on a junior because they can't waste their precious time.

If it is your first time entering prestigious law firm, unless you have a very significant case which will net a lot of money, be aware.


If you go to a Law Firm, unless you are a Five Star Somebody, the Best and Brightest Attorney will not be deployed on your matter.

Only if it is a lot of money or some big deal will a Senior 'personally' handle your case. I put 'personally' in semi-quotes because you will most often see a junior and only perhaps if the matter goes to the High Court will the Senior arrive.

In short, if you are nobody, expect to be dumped on a minor attorney who might not be particularly competent, might mishandle your case. This is because you aren't important nor can be expected to pay very much.

A True Story

A particular organization, (which had illusions of grandeur), hired a major legal firm to deal with a rather simple issue.

As they were nobody in the eyes of the Firm, and as their matter could not garner a large sum, they were shunted to a junior who had graduated law school less than a year ago. She was temporary, as are all Juniors. If she wanted to remain with the Firm she must meet her 'quota' of billables.

This is a point you need to write down if you think you will forget it. At Major law firms, the Juniors MUST bring in $XXX every month. If they don't, they will not be kept by the firm..

This means that a case which requires some work but will only bring in perhaps $1/4X would be detrimental to the Junior who must reach her quota. Hence, she decided not to devote her time to the case and advised the Organisation they pay off the person they wanted to fire without more.

When other lawyers, real lawyers, persons who weren't owned by 'billables' and loved the law, heard of the matter, they were surprised that the organization hadn't consulted them or gotten other legal advice.

The matter was straight forward.

X was contracted to perform a particular function. X did not perform that function.

Even though the Contract was so badly drafted as there is no 'Escape Clause', the fact that the person contracted could not fulfill the requirements is enough to end the Contract.

Sure, X might want to take the Organization to Court, but bags of witnesses could give evidence against him that he did not fulfill his side of the contract.

Hence, attending a Firm where one will not get a competent and interested attorney unless you are Five Star is against your interest.

Big Names

Big Name firms and practitioners hold this status because they have Five Star Clients. They represent major companies, very rich and famous people. They get a lot of publicity.

They may not be doing anything of particular importance, they may rarely do cases that become precedents. But they make a lot of money. They make a lot of money by dealing with Five Star Clients.

They don't make money from Nobodies and it is these Nobodies which give the Newbie practice, if the Newbie has fulfilled his or her 'quota'.

Most of the practice Newbies get is in telling the client they have no case. If they do have a case the Newbie must consult a senior person, usually an associate at the firm who is to mentor them.

In most cases, the Associate will weigh the time that has to be spent on the case, with how much money would be gained.

If, for example, the Associate sees an accident case in which s/he can get One Third of the Settlement, and that One Third is six or seven figures, okay.

If the One Third is less than five figures, the Newbie will be told that the client should be sent elsewhere as the firm can not waste resources on a minor case.

That is reality.

If You Have an Issue

If you are not Five Star, it suits you to do a bit of lawyer shopping. To find that competent counsel who may be a sole practitioner, who would be interested in your case.

Maybe you can go to Court and see how various lawyers behave. Maybe you can ask other people for recommendations.

What you need to understand is that you need an attorney who will focus on your work and fight for you, not shunt you one side because you are nobody. A lawyer who doesn't pray to money.


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