ABSURD LEGAL FEES


Michael Sean Quinn*

Within the last few days, LAW 360, notified the public that the highest known explicitly billed hourly fees is now $2000.00 per hour, a substantial increase since the last survey. 

Within a day or two, on May 12, 2016, Kathryn Rubino published a short blog-piece about this on ABOVE THE LAW. The title of the piece was “How Much Would You Pay For The Very Best Lawyer? The piece opens with the following: “What is the billing rate for the best attorneys in the country?”

This piece get a flunking grade–a BIG F.  There is a simple mistake here. It’s hard to see how someone could miss this error. Perhaps this methods of reasoning should be named the “Rubino Fallacy.” One wonders what she would do with the Theory of the Second Best.

The 360 study was of what is the highest price. It is not a study of what are the best services. Obviously, as a matter of Logic 100, everyone–or apparently nearly everyone–knows that 

(1) X lawyer is paid the highest hourly price

does not entail

(2) X provides the best services. 

A proposition that is an instance of  (1) and ~(1) is necessarily false. 

The proposition that is an instance of  (2) and ~(2) is necessarily false. 

The proposition that  (1) entails (2) is false. 

The proposition (2) entails (1) is false. 

It may be that sometimes or often propositions that are instances of  (1) and ~(2) are true. 

And it may be that sometimes or often propositions that are instances of   ~(1) and (2) are true. 


It might also be a good idea for Ms. Rubino to take a look at Harry Frankfurt book ON BULLSHIT. I suspect that even if there is some correlation between really excellent lawyerly performance and legal fees in the higher range, it may not be just the legal services that are “justifying” the price. There is also bullshit, some of which can fall within the pen of legal services and some does not, even if it is very effective of its sort.  

Sometimes Frankfurtian bullshitting makes one a better lawyer. And it may be that the best lawyer-bullshitters make a lot more money that those who are not great. However, being a great bullshitter may not be part of the provision of legal services: it might be found in marketing, rainmaking, friendship creation and retention, and lots more. Those talent have nothing whatever to do with the rendering of high quality legal services.


*Michael Sean Quinn,


Law Office of Michael Sean Quinn AKA
Quinn and Quinn

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Austin, TX 78703

Office Phone: 512-296-2594

Cell: 512-656-0503

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Email: mquinn@msqlaw.com

Originally posted on 05/13/2016 @ 6:56 pm

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc. (530)

One of Texas's leading insurance scholars, Michael Sean Quinn is a past chair of the Insurance Section of the State Bar of Texas and has a broad legal practice.

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