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:” Part 4 – Fees Flatter Than a Pancake

We’ve reached the end of the road in the discussion of fee arrangements popular among attorneys here at Lawyers & Liquor.  So far we’ve covered three topics: that impending death of indigent representation with the proposed defunding of the Legal Services Corporation, the soul-sucking nature of the billable hour, the questionable concept of contingent fees, and now we’re moving on to the final major fee agreement you, as a new lawyer or a pigheaded client, may encounter in the day-to-day practice of law.  This is the unicorn of all forms of fees paid for litigation purposes, the one that makes battle-hardened attorneys look at you askew and wonder the weight of the anvil that must have struck your ass firmly on the head.

Of course, we’re talking about the amazingly unprofitable, but always requested, Flat Fee Agreement.

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Dracula: The Deadbeat Client

It’s Monday on Lawyers & Liquor, and the first order of business is “Where’s the second episode of the podcast, asshole?” Well, the answer boils down to “I’m a technological incompetent with little ability to do things without a person holding my hand.” The audio recording of my interview with this episode’s guest, Chad Murray from www.chadtalkslaw.com, came out fucking awful on my end and has forced me to amplify my entire half of it…and of course I didn’t record it as two separate tracks and shit, which would have made sense. So it’s been a painstaking process, but the next episode will be out this Wednesday, so that shit’s at least sorted out finally.

Next, tomorrow’s Halloween, and I fucking love Halloween. It’s the time of year where people get to dress up as terrifying monsters, which for me simply entails wearing my normal daily lawyer get-up, and go passively rob people of their candy through a series of vague threats. “Treat,” the little bastards cry, “or trick.” It warms my soul, what little bit of it remains, to see the next generation getting the hang of armed robbery so goddamn early.

But for lawyers, every day is fucking Halloween, isn’t it? I mean, we all deal with monsters in some capacity in our work, from murderers to child molestors, all the way down to the guy that’s simply not going to pay his bill and put some small company out of business because they’re a fuckin’ skell, right? Right, motherfuckers, right. And, in fiction as in reality, lawyers have represented some horrible fucking monsters, haven’t they?

Like Dracula.

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“The Sky Is Falling” – The Difference Between Clients and Lawyers

Let’s go back to talking about something I absolutely love discussing today: Clients. Clients, in case you’ve managed to somehow forget, are the literal bane of my existence. They’re also the reason that I can afford to do things like eat food and sleep indoors. As such, clients and I have a love-hate relationship, in that I love taking their money but hate having to deal with the minutia of human existence.

However, today I’m not going to rip clients a new asshole. I want to, oh lord do I want to, but at some point I’ll have to acknowledge that clients are people too. Frustrating, infuriating people who you wish would just send in their goddamn invoice payments and leave you the hell alone to work through some shit in lawyer land, but people nonetheless. Until my proposed legislation reclassifying clients as big game, and therefore open for hunting once or twice a year, passes, we’re just going to have to accept that your clients, and likely most of my clients (the jury’s still out on this) are human beings.

As clients are, debatably, humans, they are also deserving of a bare minimum of understanding. Maybe, some schools of thought that I believe are absolutely incorrect would say, clients aren’t bad people. Maybe they’re good people having a bad time, and I should mention that. In the interests of fairness, though not agreement, today I’ll take about a few things every attorney, be they a bright-eyed asshole or a salty old veteran, likely needs to understand when dealing with their clients in any litigation matter:

How clients and lawyers view a legal matter vis a vis the importance of it is drastically fucking different.

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Representing the Reprehensible: Part 2 – Tips for Representing Nazis

So on Monday I spoke a little bit about why it’s important for lawyers to provide representation to people we may find completely devoid of morals.  The take away from that is even if the person is someone you’d be happy to see locked away in a basement subsisting on bread, water, and the occasional print-out from the Stormfront website, everyone deserves to have good legal representation and we don’t get to draw the line at only the people we like or those whose views we always agree with.  When we became lawyers, we became servants of justice, and sometimes justice, like your brother who lives in a basement subsisting on bread, water, and occasional printouts from the Stormfront website, has some really weird and detestable buddies you’d rather not associate with. Them’s the breaks, though, and we have to really accept it. While we have our personal morals and ethics, the idealized lawyer is professionally a true neutral.

I say “the idealized lawyer,” because at the end of the day we’re actually humans, not machines that just appear in court and “Beep Boop” our way through arguments, and we all have our limits. However, as I’ve talked about a couple times in the past, the limit is the lawyer’s issue, not the client’s issue, because it’s the point where our client is so amazingly, beyond the pale fucked up that we cannot represent them because we may subconsciously sabotage their otherwise meritorious claim.  But if we can swallow our bile just long enough to make the argument, there are some steps a decent lawyer needs to take in handling the Reprehensible client.

So…you know, let’s talk about that and lose me some readers.

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