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A Little Legal Advice

Updated on July 1, 2017

Understanding How Law Firms Operate

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, the best and brightest are reserved for these particular Five Star Clients. They do not waste time with nobodies. They can not be expected to draft a divorce for Mary Nobody when they need to work on the divorce of Mrs Money.

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

Even if they 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.

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.

The matter was one which would require some research and result in a trial which would take up her time.

She didn't even calculate the time or the issue, she just decided that she was not going to waste her time or brain matter on these minor people so told them to pay off the person they wanted to fire without more.

When other lawyers, real lawyers, persons who practiced on their own and weren't that concerned about 'billables' and loved the law, heard about the matter, they were surprised that the organisation hadn't consulted them or gotten other legal advice.

This is because, to put it simply, if you are hired on a contract which is so badly drafted as there is no 'Escape Clause', but the job you are hired for you can not or do not accomplish, you can be dismissed.

Hence, if you hold yourself out as one thing, and are hired as one thing but really are focused on other things, you have not fulfilled the contract, so despite there being no 'Escape Clause' you can be fired because you didn't fulfill your part of the Contract.

Yes, you'll fight, you'll got to Court, you'll wave your Contract, you'll prove there is no way they can fire you.

But they can come to Court with bags of witnesses to give evidence that you could not or did not perform the task you were hired for.

However, it takes a competent and interested attorney to put the case together and win it. And you will not, unless you are Five Star, get that competent and interested attorney at that Big Name Firm.

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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