Waiving Privilege: A Discovery War Story

So yesterday was a snow day for me, which meant I got to sit at my kitchen table and review my case files over and over again, churning out the billables in the comfort of my home and a pair of fleece pajamas with fucking labs on them. It was pleasant. I enjoyed it.

As part of reviewing my case files, though, I also ended up reviewing some discovery production that was going out soon, an electronic copy of which I’d uploaded to a secured cloud server so I can be a redacting fool from anywhere in the world. Most lawyers hate going through discovery production to the opposing party, and I’ll admit it’s a pretty big pain in the ass. It takes forever and can suck away entire days. Hell, that’s why big firms hire doc reviewers and first year associates to sit around and do nothing but obsess over what’s in each and every document.

Me, however? I like to do it all myself when possible, because what you produce in discovery to an opposing party can seriously fuck your case up, and I’m the type of guy who, at the end of the day, believes the buck stops with me and nobody else. I learned this from my boss, who from day one has made it very clear that on each and every one of his cases, the buck stops with me and nobody else.

So let’s talk about that, how trusting your case to someone else can seriously fuck you over and why it may be worth your time to go through the documents your own goddamn self.

I’m gonna tell you fucktards a story to illustrate my point today, so gather round children.

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The Estate, The Widow, and a Used Parrot: A War Story

So not too long ago I blasted a guy for making a post about a fucking parrot.  The post called out another attorney for possibly copying a tweet regarding a parrot in a divorce, it got thousands of views, and got me labeled as the “parrot post” guy.  Hell, it got mentioned in an online blog ran by People magazine.  A fucking parrot.

Ever notice how sometimes cases and legal issues in various matters, all of which are unrelated, become similar?  Not too long ago I was retained to sue a titty bar.  Since then, I’ve had a number of cases come in where I’m suing titty bars, all different cases.  Likewise, a while back I got one case against a car dealership, then while it was pending got like three more.  None of these people knew each other.  I have no idea how it happens, but it’s a truth:  For some reason certain types of cases seem to come in clumps.

Which, of course, means that a parrot became the central issue in an estate I handled recently…and then I started getting a variety of pet-related matters.  Determining the ownership of thirty cats.  Figuring out which neighbor’s dog was destroying prize-winning roses.  Etc etc etc.

Because, given my history with the species, of fucking course it would be a goddamn parrot that started the multiple rush of pet cases I’m currently handling.

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Litigation is Expensive, Buddy: A dialogue with the “Righteous Client”

So I have clients that are…less than thrilled with the amount of my recent bill.

“But we just paid $2,000!  Why do we have to pay another $2,000 this month?”

“Because you told me to be aggressive and refuse settlement offers to bring this matter to trial.  That’s the cost of me doing this.”

You didn’t tell us that!”

Followed by me responding with every email that contains one key phrase:

“Litigation is expensive.  It is not unheard of for a case going to trial to cost thousands of dollars a month while we are in active discovery, nor is it uncommon for the price tag of the entire matter to range in the tens of thousands of dollars.  It is my suggestion that we reach out to discuss a possibility of settlement once we have conferred regarding what an appropriate settlement amount would be.”

This is a regular thing.  It’s almost the hallmark of an hourly civil litigator to have to remind their clients of that one key thing:  Litigation is fucking expensive.

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“Oh, It matters” : A War Story

I haven’t posted a war story in a while.  I don’t even think I’ve told one in a bit, and that’s unusual.  Lawyers are like veterans of one of those minor foreign skirmishes, we like to talk about our time spent locked in combat with other attorneys.  Sometimes it’s because we’re fighting on the side of truth and justice.  Other times, it’s because we’re trying to make the best of a bad situation.

Take Marcy (not the real name) for example.  Marcy was an unemployment case.  She had been let go from the medical facility she worked at for a litany of reasons, all of which she claimed were unjustified.  Marcy had applied for unemployment, and, after her employer responded to the request, had been turned down for unemployment, being found to have been let go for cause.  Marcy did not believe this was the case, and showed up in my office one day asking me to help her in front of the unemployment compensation referee’s hearing.

Marcy was one of those types of people you come to identify immediately.  Too big sweatshirt with the name of some now-defunct night school “college” on it, stringy hair that had probably been within sniffing distance of a bottle of Pert Plus in the last month but you still weren’t too sure, sallow skinned with bags under her eyes.  In fact, in later years I would be able to identify a “Marcy” immediately as an “ex-addict.”  At that time, though, I was full of piss and vinegar and ready to believe my client.

This was the case with Marcy, who advised that someone from the employer would likely be present.  Because of that, I wanted to make sure the case was in order, advising her to tell me everything and leave nothing out.

“Remember,” I would admonish her at the end of every meeting or phone call, “If there’s something you haven’t told me that’s related to this, I need to know about it now.  If the first time I find out about it is at this hearing, we’re going to have a problem.”

“I know Mr. BoozyBarrister,” Marcy would answer, “I told you everything.”

Marcy was a lying sack of shit.

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I Charge for Consults: My Hatred for the Free Consultation

The other day in a super-secret lawyer chat room, I announced that I engage in a very specific perversion among lawyers.  I admitted to charging for consultations.

In the words of one attorney in the chat, charging for consultations draws clients in just as well as “having a man with a machine gun outside my door taking shots at prospective clients.”  Fair play on him for painting a vivid mental picture.  Now let me explain why I think he’s wrong.

But first, a story:

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