OBSERVATIONS, RECOLLECTIONS, OCCASIONAL SUGGESTIONS
SOME INITIAL OBSERVATIONS
I have practiced law for a long time; I have taught law in law schools from time to time; I have given many CLE lectures; I have published a fair amount of law-related stuff over the years; and I have been an expert on several law-related matters (insurance, lawyer performance, aspects if civil procedure, and legal ethics, broadly conceived).
The last of these activities resulted, in part, from a previous career. For various reasons, what had become my niche practice mostly faded away, even though I was thought to be quite good at it. Perhaps a species of “age discrimination” had a role in this. A number of aging lawyers have tended to confirm this. They say that it originates for a number of sources: potential clients, clients, other lawyers, law firms, etc.
In any case, I am now 72. I didn’t and don’t think I look it, but the other day my daughter said I looked like an aging Irish poet. Self aesthetic over estimation is widespread.
*The other day, I expressed admiration as to what a younger lawyer was able to do on her desktop, and she said, “Well, I’ve been doing it since the third grade.”
Naturally, this is all made more difficult by hating to acknowledge limitations, black holes, blind-spots, proof reading inattention, and so forth. It is also made more tortuous by four other factors: (1) learning the newer intricacies of electronic law practice, (2) having to do things for myself that I have had others do for me year in and year out, (3) half-way mastering “marketing,” and (4) dealing with the necessity of what might be called discounted fees. (These problem-areas are in descending order of difficulty and stress: (3), (1), (2) then (4) at the bottom.)
Still, investigating to some extent regarding what clients tell you before you do anything else, is a drag and it can be very expensive, often more so than the client can afford. The nice thing about larger businesses as opposed to many individuals is that they expect to get sued and they have insurance or they have created systems of explicit accounts or implicit plans to pay legal fee, settle cases, and or pay damages.
Individuals have trouble keeping all this straight. When someone thinks and feels that s/he has been treated unjustly, s/he often finds it more unjust to pay expensive fees to deal with the problem. A person in this situation often takes they sense of frustration out on their lawyer. Representing the wealthy is often easier that representing those in the so-called middle class.
Notice also that I did not mention contingency fees. I used to do these by the bushel-basket full, when I was in a large firm. Those were insurance subrogation cases. Now I have discovered that contingency fee cases are too upsetting for a solo like me; they require too large an investment of money (e.g., for expert witnesses) and require too large an investment of time where there is substantial uncertainty and substantial time before the investment will pay off, if at all. I will take them, so long as I can function as something like a broker-messenger-and-riskless associate. Conceivably I would take one if all expenses were to be paid as incurred, and the contingency fee was only part of the fee arrangement.)
One intentions with this set of blog essays and notes to suggest things I am relearning. These are not intended only for those who have turned a little grey; they are intended for everybody. Some of all sorts may be interesting to “the many” as well as “the few.”
Their titles will be noted as: “Lessons” at the start.
Law Office of Michael Sean Quinn
Originally posted on 08/17/2017 @ 7:42 pm