Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Sneaky Things Lawyers Don't Mention

What, a sneaky lawyer? Hard to believe, I know. This profession is always getting a bad rap, and the list below gives you even more reasons why! Let's take a look at the sneaky things about lawyers that they often "fail to disclose": 1) Winning Your Lawsuit Might Be a Moral Victory. In other words, savor it, because by the time all is said, done, paid and paid out, you might have very little in your checking account to show for it. Why? Well obviously you have to do is PAY THE LAWYER. He or she is not going to be at the end of the line waiting for his or her check. They disburse the funds! Unless it's a contingency case you've probably been paying all along. Second problem is that your winnings are TAXED. Yes! Some evil company does you injustice which results in you losing a limb, or something, and the federal government feels you owe them a portion of your new artificial leg! As if you've just won the lotto! This is why the IRS is about as popular as lawyers. 2) Lawyers Are Specialists. This means they are great in the area of the law they are supposed to know about. However ask your divorce lawyer about your copyright infringement problem and you might get a blank stare. He doesn't know about copyrights. People with copyright problems don't have custody issues, so why should he know about that? If you're lucky they'll tell you they don't know. And NEVER ask your patent lawyer to defend you in a criminal case. You'll be "patent pending" for years in the slammer. 3) They Can Ask You Out. In some states it is legally okay for your lawyer to date you. Even while he is working on your case! This can be distracting at best and a conflict of interest at worst. Some unscrupulous attorneys prey on vulnerable women who are divorcing, suggesting they can get them a better settlement if they have sex with him first. (I don't know who falls for this line, but apparently some women do.) There was even a case here in Plantation, Florida, where the lawyer had sex with his client and then BILLED HER FOR THE TIME. Which would put him in the category of an even older profession than the one he started in. 4) There's Some Bad Apples Out There. But don't expect to find them. Records of lawyer misconduct are vague, and vary from state to state, so unless you hire a private investigator you are not likely to find out much about your lawyer's shady past. Even lawyers with lots of complaints against them are likely to be considered "in good standing" unless they've been disbarred. There was even one lawyer who videotaped himself getting intimate with a client in front of the woman's toddler-aged daughter. There is no record of disciplinary action against him, even though the incident was widely reported in newspapers. Wondering, though, who brought the incident to light. That woman deserves disciplinary action as a parent! 5) Some Lawyers Are Losers. No, not the ones with the bad pick-up lines. Some don't win cases. Ever! They may be one of these Constant Settlers, who find reasons to never go to court. Or they do go to court and never get a ruling in their favor. Tip: If you want a good defense lawyer, it's helpful to find one who has worked in a prosecutor's office. They know the ins and outs of getting you off. 6) Your Case is Too Piddly. Your neighbor has decided to unilaterally cut down your prized bushes in the backyard because it interfered with his view of a Distant Pond. Your case is airtight! You're going to sue the jerk for damages and erect a castle to block his view of the sun. But no lawyer is interested. Unless your case has the potential to yield significant damages, they might not view it as worth the effort. 7) They're Expensive. A lawyer is not a cheap date! (Remember the Billable Sex Lawyer.) They may charge you anywhere from $100 - $300 an hour on up, depending on area of specialization. Or if working on contingency, they take a whopping 30- 40 percent of the award. For relatively simple problems you are better off paying a flat fee if your lawyer will agree to it. They are far more efficient when they are not getting paid by the hour. You may even get that custody case settled in 10 minutes! Normally, though, flat fees are reserved for items like wills or settling estates where the amount of work is a known quantity. And you can always write your lawyer into the will. 8) You May Not Need A Lawyer. Well of course they're not going to tell you that. Not unless your Case is Piddly or it's something they're not interested in. You may be able to get through your bankruptcy using a paralegal instead of an actual lawyer. You may be better off in Small Claims Court instead of Real Court. If your divorce is uncontested and there are no kids involved, you may not need a lawyer at all. You can just settle it yourself with the help of some really great discount lawyer software from Staples! 9) You Can't Sue Me! Be careful what you sign. (haha. The lawyer will not tell you that. Anything he gives you must be safe, right?) But in some cases you may waive your right to sue your lawyer if he/she has you sign something that says you agree to arbitration in case of a dispute. Even if he forgets to file your malpractice case and the statute of limitations runs out. 10) Lawyer Malpractice. An Oxymoron? Less than half of lawyers carry malpractice insurance in case they mess up your case. Furthermore, only 6 percent of cases result in judgments of more than $50,000, so it's probably not worth the effort to sue your lawyer for ruining your life. Besides, we all know lawyers hate to get sued, right? Lawyers are like any other profession, with their share of superb professionals and Hucksters With a Degree. So don't be blinded by their aura of confidence. Check them out, and make sure your case is settled before you go out on that first date!

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