“Why Don’t He Write?” – Thoughts on Good Client Communication

Ah, year another day has dawned here in the Law Offices of Boozy D. Barrister! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the coffee is somewhat tolerable, and the “new messages” light on my phone is winking it’s red eye at me as I settle in for the week to begin. And, of course, as the very responsible attorney that sits and writes Lawyers & Liquor, a guiding resource for barely capable mouth breathers and the figurative (and sometimes literal) bed wetting baby lawyers of the legal sphere, I know that those messages must be handled in the correct manner:

Saved for thirty days if the client isn’t in years and panicking and waiting for them to call again, because as every good lawyer will tell you it’s only important if the client calls at least two times.

But you really shouldn’t be doing that shit, and I think you all know that.  First, it’s a damn good way to make sure you spend an entire day in the office doing absolutely nothing except listening to voice mails and making papier mache heads out of those little “while you were out” slips. Second, it’s a damn good way to lose a shit-ton of business in a really goddamn quick manner.  Trust me, I should fucking know, because I’ve been there myself more than once in my career.

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“CC: Client” – The Worst Form of Posturing

Welcome to another beautiful week here in the wide world of litigation and small firm chicanery.  I’m the Boozy Barrister, your guide through the minor hell that is the day-to-day practice of law in the real world, and this is Lawyers & Liquor, the internet’s equivalent of an overflowing septic tank of cynicism and legal ramblings.  

You know what I hate? You know what really gets under my fucking skin and makes me see red, white and blue (because even my fuckin’ anger is patriotic as shit)? Those goddamn letters that you get from opposing counsel in a case where they spend the whole goddamn time posturing and pissing on you, blowing themselves up more often than a remedial school for suicide bombers. These letters are the legal equivalent of two pussywillow thin frat boys standing on opposite sides of a room and screaming “Come at me bro” while not struggling very goddamn hard to get out of the grips of Teddy and Chugs (named for his particular skill)   because goddamn if that happened there may be a real fight.  It’s a lot of chest-pounding with little to no payoff and they are goddamn ridiculous pieces of a puffery that every lawyer sees right through.

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Being a Legal Dom: The Importance of Client Control

Welcome to the new and improved, but still the same, Lawyers & Liquor.  I’m the Boozy Barrister, here to provide some practice tips to the young and stupid among you, in particular any dipshit that went to law school with stars in their eyes and a song in their heart.

It’s all well and good to go into law school believing that people are all essentially good at heart and just need some help through a literal and metaphorical trial in their life. But that’s the sort of idealism that gets you shot in the goddamn ass, because it leads to you viewing clients as something more than billable sacks of flesh that you can hit with a stick to make money fly directly into the firm’s operating account, and that shit is a problem.

Why, you may say, is it so bad for an attorney to grow close to their clients, or at least so close that they recognize during the course of representation that every client may not be a worthless fuckhead who needs competent legal representation merely to wipe their own ass? Because part of the job of an attorney is to act as a leather-bound dominatrix, exerting control and twisting clients into accepting the situation as it exists and not as they fucking want it to exist.

That’s right, to a certain degree every lawyer is a kinky-ass, whip-wielding mistress just waiting to tell the client they’ve been a bad boy. And I’m not just talking about our hobbies in the off-hours. So if you want to be a successful attorney, you better squeeze your ass into some high heels and get ready to step on the nutsack of your client’s ambitions and goals to bring them to reality, because the effective representation of people all fucking comes down to client control.

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“Fees Fi Fo Fum”: The English Rule and The American Rule, Part 1

Good morning and welcome back to Monday here on Lawyers & Liquor, where I try to recoup all the goodwill I burned through in recovering from an injury and being a general roustabout in anything not case related by redirecting you all away from my flagrant ignoring of my responsibilities on this site and back towards the questions of law, fact, and fun that tend to pop up profanely here.  Isn’t that just one hell of a run-on sentence? Anyhow, I’m your hobbling host the Boozy Barrister, here to pour seething hot rage and recommendations into your eyeholes as we keep trucking on through the dark night of litigation finance.

You may remember that last week, before I disappeared into the netherworld of lazy lawyers in their off time, I spoke about the threats that are coming to bear on the Legal Services Corporation, the federal agency that provides grants to legal aid non-profits and assists them in letting the indigent have their day in court.  The whole reason we have to have organizations like this is because, frankly, if someone hires me to bring a lawsuit or defend one I expect to get fucking paid as a result. Now, some of you out there are saying “Boozy, I thought lawyers only get paid if you win!” To that I say: Do I sound like the type of guy who takes cases on contingency? I like eating my meals. The only gambling I ever do is at the pai gow table, surrounded  by hard-smoking and hard-drinking Chinese businessmen screaming things in Mandarin and Cantonese (neither or which I speak).  I’m not gambling in the office.

I mean, I would if I could, but it’s been hell on wheels trying to get the partners to recognize the need for a pai gow table in the conference room.

No, in most cases us American Attorneys get paid win, lose, or draw.  You may go home with empty pockets and a judgment against you, but I go home with my check or I don’t sally forth into the legal battlefield with you in the first fucking place. And that, for many people out there, is the problem.  But…what if I told you there was another way?  And there may be one, too, if we dig back through the past and examine the alternative method of paying for a lawsuit…which is what we’re doing this week.

But first, let me explain the two historical methods of paying for a lawsuit: The English Rule and the American Rule.

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“The No-Bill Profession” – Legal Aid and Pro Bono

You know what’s nice? Knowing that the practice of law is a profession that places as its benchmark the pursuit of justice and higher school of thought.  We all go into law school thinking that we’re going to change the world through our practice of the law, and some dolent professor with an Ivy League pedigree extols the virtues of the “Noble Savage” that the lawyer is supposed to be.  We are told, in every class, that the law exists to bring justice and that the role of an attorney is a counselor and advocate for the cause of the downtrodden client.  We are, in the words of the administrators and professors, the gatekeepers of justice, the first line of defense against tyranny, and the vindicators of the downtrodden.

And, of course, we then step out into the real world of practice and become made aware of the fact that all that esoteric bullshit and idealism doesn’t make the student loan payment of the rent.  Nobody’s ringing up their landlord and saying “Hey, I stopped a family of five from being evicted today!  They paid me in a big bag of pork rinds!  Will you accept pork rinds in lieu of rent now?”  If your landlord or utility company would ever stop laughing, what they’d choke out is “No, dipshit.”  Idealism doesn’t pay any of the bills.  “Good feels” doesn’t put food on the table.  Advocacy won’t buy avocado toast.

For that, you need money.  And to make money, you have to let go of the concept that you are anything more than a cutthroat mercenary of the legal world.  Because motherfuckers may need justice, but motherfuckers gotta pay to get it.  And yes, there are lawyers out there who provide representation to those people that need it without regard to their ability to pay, and they do some great goddamn work in doing so.  But, and here’s the thing:

They may not be there for much longer, and society has no viable safety net ready and raring to go for those folks.

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