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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Nothing to see here, move along.

So I injured myself in the dumbest way possible.  I was taking my dogs out yesterday morning, in the rain, wearing my top coat, my pajamas, and a pair of house slippers.  This is the morning ritual, where I take them out into my nice, open back yard, hook them to their leads, and then go inside to clean up piddle pads (they’re old and, much like me after a bottle of whiskey, lack bladder control), fix breakfast, and get ready for the day.

One of my dogs is the sweetest, but dumbest, dog I’ve ever owned, a lab/pit mix with three legs that has never lost his puppy-like exuberance. The other is an elderly beagle that I at times nudge with my foot to make sure she’s alive.  The way this works every morning is I walk downstairs, take out the big dumb dog, then coax the beagle from hiding.  Because he’s big, dumb, and strong, I have to take Tres (because yes, Virginia, I’m the type of asshole that names a three-legged dog Tres) by the collar to take him out to his lead, lest some random leaf threaten him and he bolt from the yard and into the alley.  I’ve learned these lessons over time.

Yesterday he decided, as we were walking over slick grass, to bolt.  With a fatherly death grip that comes only from raising children, I held onto his collar…and was rewarded by promptly having all of his forward momentum transferred to me.  Physics was not my strong suit in school.  As may be predicted, I went down.  Hard.  Hard enough that my knee did an impression of Rice Krispies through an amplifier and I cursed loud enough to be heard three states away.  After picking myself up, I realized there was definitely something wrong.  Maybe it was because I was dizzy, or maybe because putting weight on my knee resulted in a blinding pain.

Hurt or not, I had settlement conferences yesterday, so no sick day for me.

After a trip to a doctor last night, it’s been decided that I may have torn a ligament when I took the dog out in my slippers and pajamas.  Because injuring myself in a manly way apparently stopped happening about a decade ago.  That’s something to look forward to, kids:  As you get older, the ways in which you injure yourself will getting progressively more embarrassing until, eventually, you pick up stuffed animals with apprehension of some unlikely but inevitable injury.

With that said, please understand that between muscling through my day yesterday while in incredible pain and unable to bend my leg, and the fact that I’m popping Advil and desperately trying to find a knee brace, I didn’t have time to get a post together.  However, you guys got one on Monday, right?  I thought so.  So I’m ahead of the game here.

I’ll be back tomorrow with something more substantive than this.  Today, however, I’m going to go to the hospital.


Walking the Line: Keeping My Soul.

Certainly, when I was a boy, people liked to believe that lawyers were kind of pillars of goodness of the likes of Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’

-Scott Turow

Today I found out a client died over the weekend.  I was at his house about two weeks ago to do a will signing.  He had just gotten out of the hospital, but seemed pretty healthy.  This morning, as soon as the office opened, the phone rang.  It was his wife, telling me he died.

Because I’m not a monster, I immediately expressed my condolences.  Once we got off the phone, I checked the fire safe, making sure his will was in it.  Seeing it there, and seeing it was the original he gave us for safekeeping, I breathed a sigh of relief.

If we had the will, chances were the widow would use us for the estate.  But that meant I’d probably have to go to the funeral Wednesday, which…well, to be frank, I got other shit to do.

I’m a monster.

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Overruled on the Grounds of Idiocy

Yesterday I was reviewing some court transcripts.  It’s a complicated matter, but only because of the background surrounding it, which involves approximately 19 civil lawsuits over the course of twenty years in state court, a couple bankruptcies, a federal case, a RICO claim, an airport, and a riding lawnmower being used as proof of official misconduct.  I came across this matter in reviewing things for another case, and it grabbed my attention.  I spent the weekend going through the information and case files, gripped by decades of litigation and backbiting in a small town.

One part of it stood out to me though, and it’s a perfect example of how even a minor detail can really fuck us over in this profession.  First year law students, practicing attorneys, and everyone else, sit the fuck up, turn off Spotify, stop texting, and pay attention:  Check your local rules and make sure your documents comply.  In looking through this whole case, the one thing that made me take notice was, if the motion had been properly noticed, the last 12 years of litigation would have been completely unnecessary.

The whole matter would have been resolved with one hearing, one check, and one payment.

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