Advertising Errors: Update Your Ads

So I was sick yesterday.  Sick as in woke up and went to the bathroom to immediately throw up.  Sick as in a fountain of various unseemly bodily fluids erupting from both ends of my body.  Sick as in hunched over a garbage can hacking up bile and praying that sweet death would come and take me.  Keep that in mind as you read today’s post, because it may be a little disjointed.

But I was in the office, because that’s the life I chose.  Also, because one of my clients that I’ve been hounding for payment was coming in to meet with me, and I wanted to make sure I was there to collect the check.  The check that was discounted, because they raised the fact that an old version of the firm website advertised “free consultations.”  Trust me, it took some fighting with the higher-ups to get the invoice discounted.

“Everyone advertises those,” the higher-ups said, “but nobody takes them too seriously.”

“Well,” I responded, “Everyone may be violating an ethical rule, and it just isn’t worth an hour of the bill.”

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Monday Roundup: December 12, 2016

So this week we have Forbes courting the ire of attorneys by attacking the venerable billing institutions, Pennsylvania telling a wannabe lawyer who’s just trying to combat injustice and free his pill-selling paramour from prison that he did indeed engage in the unauthorized practice of law, another law school gained the blessing of our lords and masters at the ABA, and a firm is being sued because their system may be accessed by hackers at some point.

These are the four brief stories in this week’s Roundup.

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Music Friday: The Benefits of Law School

It’s finals time, and a lot of law students are currently freaking out as professors blog the idiotic answers given.  For those of us in practice, there’s some dark humor in watching the Twitter-sphere explode with the stress of 1L, 2L, and 3LOL students praying that they’ll just get through this semester, rank, and become a highly paid attorney.

In recognition of that, here’s a little John McMullan and Law School for everyone.  I’ll see you folks on Monday.

“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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Involuntary Pro Bono: When Clients Ignore Invoices

Here’s a rule of thumb to keep in the front of your mind during every client interaction:

Clients are scum that will take every opportunity to screw you over.

Clients will walk off with your invoices unpaid, taunting you to come after them. If you do come after them, clients will file unfounded bar complaints that you have to defend. If you sue a client for past-due fees, you’ll draw the ire of the local bar association because you didn’t submit to their fee-dispute mediation program. If you try to retain a client’s file to try and force the payment, they file a bar complaint. At the end of the day, trying to collect from a client who wants to avoid paying you is a nightmare for the lawyer, to the point that many of us look at how much is owed, figure it’s the cost of doing business, and write it off.

By the way, those written off fees?  They don’t count towards your pro bono requirements if you have one.  Ain’t that some shit.

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