Attorney Fees

* Only 44% of Americans approve of how the Supreme Court is doing its job, but that’s probably because the other 56% wouldn’t know what the Supreme Court was unless the justices were contestants on a reality show. [New York Times]

* Having nothing to do with the outcome of this Tenth Circuit appeal, apparently a juror in the underlying case had no idea when the First Amendment was adopted. As Bush II would say, is our children learning? [U.S. Tenth Circuit / FindLaw]

* Who’s going to win the “Super Bowl” of Android patent trials? Nobody. Judge Richard Posner has issued a “tentative” order which noted that both sides of the Apple/Google case ought to be dismissed. [Reuters]

* You should’ve “known better”: in case we didn’t make it abundantly clear when we spoke about NALP’s data for the class of 2011, the job market for new law grads is being classified as “brutal.” [National Law Journal]

* U. Chicago Law revolutionized the field of law and economics, but much to the school’s chagrin, everyone copied them. Now they’re thinking up new ways to do the same things. Gunners gotta gun. [Businessweek]

* Say hello to Mary Lu Bilek, the woman who’s been appointed as the new dean of UMass Law. Hopefully she’s not keen on using school credit cards for personal spending like the last dean. [Wall Street Journal]

* Occupy Wall Street protesters can’t sue NYC, its mayor, or its police commissioner, but they can sue the police. And with that news, “F**k tha Police” was sung in drum circles across the tri-state area. [Bloomberg]

Just blaze... until July.

* Say sayonara to the Buffett Rule. Senate Republicans were successful in blocking the 30% tax on millionaires proposed by Democrats. And thank God, because that trickle down thing is totally working for us right now. [Wall Street Journal]

* Rich lawyers keep getting richer because they keep increasing their fees. That being said, where the hell are the bonuses? Come on now, SullCrom, are you seriously going to make us all wait until June? That’s really not very nice. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Well, that was quick: one minute men abound in the George Zimmerman circus. Mark O’Mara filed a motion to get Judge Recksiedler off the case, and the media filed a motion to get access to sealed records. [CNN]

* A federal judge presiding over the John Edwards campaign finance trial dismissed 47 potential jurors. Dude gets around, because apparently he had slept with all of them. Nah, he wishes, though. [Bloomberg]

* As a law school, it sure is easy to claim that just under 100% of the class of 2010 was employed nine months after graduation, especially when you were the one employing them. [National Law Journal]

* Seems like the New York Times has finally caught on to the ADA troll trend. Lawyers are recruiting clients to file suits against noncompliant businesses, but at least the disabled reap the rewards. [New York Times]

* Prospective welfare recipients in Georgia have a few more months to blaze before they’ll have to pass a drug test to receive benefits. Smoke two joints before you prepare for all the incoming lawsuits. [Washington Post]

Tom Wallerstein

I’ve known some lawyers to proudly proclaim that in litigation, they leave no stone unturned. They boast that they will pursue every defense, review every document, and raise every argument. In doing so, presumably, they assure victory. They strive to win at any cost.

This approach makes sense when a well-funded client faces bet-the-company litigation. In that case, of course, a lawyer should pursue every possible path to victory, even if a particular path seems like a long shot. It may cost a lot to win, but even more to lose. In these cases, the economic interest of the attorney and the client are aligned. If the amount at stake warrants it, the lawyer can work the case to the max, and the client is happy to pay for it.

But smaller firms handling smaller matters know that many times, winning in litigation is relative to the amount at stake and the fees incurred. Every client is initially delighted to receive a favorable verdict at trial. But when the heat cools down, and only the bill remains, even the winning client may resent his lawyer when he reflects on the price he paid for his “victory”….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Leaving Stones Unturned”


Tom Wallerstein

Over the last few years, the legal market has changed dramatically. We live in a buyer’s market in which the clients hold the upper hand and can demand financial concessions from their attorneys that go beyond lower hourly rates.

This good news for clients might sound like bad news for lawyers. If lawyers can’t charge as much, they likely won’t make as much. But although greater price competition might lower revenue for some firms, it surely presents an opportunity for others. Small law firms often compete with bigger firms on price, and increased client sensitivity to legal fees can be a marketing boon to firms that can undercut their competition (with the familiar caveat, of course, that the smaller firm must be able to provide the resources and quality required by the particular matter).

The changing market invites, if not demands, lawyers to offer concessions for clients. Happily, many of the concessions have relatively little impact on the firm’s bottom line, but can garner significant goodwill with clients. For example….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: A Moment of Truth”

Ah, nothing brings around the lawyers of today like the talk of money. One of the most popular Google searches by law students and lawyers is “how to make money as a lawyer.” I rarely see searches for “how to cross examine the expert witness,” or “building a reputation, one case at a time.”

It’s all about the cash.

So here it is, here’s your red meat:

Charging “what everyone else charges” is for losers.

Good clients know you get what you pay for. Cheap, annoying, time-sucking, Bar-complaint-filing clients try to own someone for nothing. If you want the same clients everyone else has, charge the same legal fees. You can be Wal-Mart, or you can be Saks. More people shop at Wal-Mart, but people looking for quality shop at Saks, and they know the difference. They go in, they see something they want, and pay for it (without a payment plan). (And don’t tell me “credit cards are payment plans.” The seller gets the full amount, the buyer makes payments to the bank.) Saks doesn’t have “low prices,” and customers aren’t going there for low prices. They’re looking for quality. Price is secondary….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: Setting, Earning, and Keeping Fees in Small Law Firms”

* Apprenticeship programs sound great (especially to Lat), but will they help you to become a lawyer? Of course they will, but only if you don’t mind failing the bar exam a few times. [National Law Journal]

* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 100 jobs were added to legal sector in November. Cue unemployed lawyers singing: “Santa baby, slip a law job under the tree, for me?” [Am Law Daily]

* Things you can sell as a practicing attorney: your soul, your dignity, and your standards. Things you can’t sell as a practicing attorney: babies (but it sure is a great way to abort your career). [Daily Mail]

* When you earn $1.50 in attorney’s fees, it’s just not worth it to be nice. Something to remember before you take out six figures of loan debt to become a public interest lawyer. [Wall Street Journal]

* A lesson to be learned by all mothers-in-law: you do not question a man’s sexual prowess, even if there’s a chance that he might be shooting blanks. [New York Post]

Plaintiffs’ lawyers in class action cases: are they heroes, or villains? Do they make too much in fees, leaving the classes they represent high and dry? Or could it be argued that they make too little for the work that they do?

Let’s discuss….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Attorneys Fees in Class Actions: Too Low, Too High, or Just Right?”

Stop sexually harassing me.

* Now trending on the Election 2012 campaign trail for Republicans: attacks on the federal court system. Be prepared for SCOTUS term limits and other ridiculous propositions. [New York Times]

* After some bratty behavior from MGA Entertainment, Orrick was allowed to withdraw as counsel. Maybe they’re using the unpaid $3.85M in legal fees to buy noses for their dolls. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Paul Ceglia’s latest lawyer, Dean Boylan, is used to working with fabricated evidence. He was just ordered to pay $300K in damages for creating some fake kiddie porn. [Bloomberg]

* Cate Edwards got married this weekend. Was daddy sporting another $400 haircut when he walked her down the aisle? [Hollywood Reporter]

* Who wins the prize for being the number one deadbeat taxpayer in New York’s Upper West Side? A lawyer with $1.2M in tax liens, that’s who. [New York Post]

* “It would be better if you didn’t wear any underwear to work.” The trials and tribulations of being a female bartender in Manhattan, now brought to you in lawsuit form. [New York Daily News]

Although the matter is still being contested — Northland has asked a court to reduce its bill still further, to zero — the arbitrator’s finding calls into question the business model Goodwin and many other large law firms have relied on for decades: Deploying huge legal teams to pursue clients’ cases, often assigning more than a dozen lawyers to compile research, conduct depositions, and draft motions.

— an article in the Boston Globe about a recent fee dispute between Northland Investment Corp. and Goodwin Procter, in which an arbitrator concluded that Goodwin overcharged Northland by more than $540,000 (gavel bangs: ABA Journal and WSJ Law Blog).

Constance McMillen

Constance McMillen, the gay teen who was barred from taking her girlfriend to prom and then invited to a sham prom, will get her attorney fees.

It’s not a huge amount of money, but maybe the message is more important? U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson ordered McMillen’s Mississippi school district to pay about $81,000. Even though the school district canceled the prom, McMillen was still entitled to attorney fees because she was the prevailing plaintiff in a civil rights case.

Let’s hope $81,000 gets the attention of school districts in Mississippi and elsewhere. At the very least, that’s got to be more than they usually spend on prom. Maybe they’ll figure out it’s cheaper to let their gay students party with whomever they want.

Judge awards legal fees in Miss. lesbian prom case [Associated Press via ABA Journal]

Earlier: You Can Dance If You Want To (Unless You’re a Lesbian)

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