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A Little Legal Advice

Updated on August 20, 2017

Understanding How Law Firms Operate

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

Billables is the simple term for clients who have a LOT of money, a LOT of work and can bring in six figures easily.

Senior members of the Firm, the best and brightest are reserved Five Star Clients. Senior members do not waste time with nobodies.

Senior Members can not be expected to draft a divorce for Mary Nobody when they have something to do for Mrs Money.

Senior Members have no time to do land transfers or contracts for nobody. They are occupied or available only to Five Star Clients.

Even if Senior Members have nothing to do and take the statement of Nobody, they'll fling the matter on a very junior person because they can't waste their precious time.

Understand

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

Only if it is a lot of money or some big deal will they personally handle your case.

In short, expect to be dumped on a minor attorney who might not be particularly competent, and who might mishandle your case because you aren't very important or don't have much Billables.

A True Story

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

As they were nobody in 'billables' they were shunted to a very junior person who had graduated law school a year ago and if she wanted to remain with the firm had to 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 lose the work.

This means that a case where the best that can be gained is $1/4X why should the Junior bother? How does the Junior explained to her Seniors why she wasted so many working hours on a case that might only net $1/4X?

The Junior looked at the Nobodies. The matter was one which would require some research and result in a trial which would take up her time.

She didn't calculate time or the issue, she decided that she was not going to devote her time or brain matter to these minor people.

She advised 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 organisation hadn't consulted them or gotten other legal advice.

This is because, to put it simply, the legal matter was straight forward.

If a person is hired to teach Spanish and doesn't teach Spanish the Contract is broken. Even if it is so badly drafted as there is no 'Escape Clause', the fact it isn't fulfilled is enough to end it.

Sure, one might refuse to leave, might demand money might wave the Contract with it's absent 'Escape Clause' and claim there is no way to be fired. But the other side can attend Court with bags of witnesses to give evidence that contract was not performed.

It takes a competent and interested attorney to put the case together and win it.

As going to a Firm where one will not get a competent and interested attorney unless you are Five Star results in a winnable case not being brought

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 much money from Nobodies and it is these Nobodies which give the Newbie Attorney practice.

Most of the practice these 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 this is 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.

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