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Posts Tagged ‘Carolyn Elefant’

https://cdn.morguefile.com/imageData/public/files/b/BishopPatterdale/01/l/1388869659h90om.jpgAlthough still not a Twitter fan boy, I confess there’s something to the immediacy of firing off 140 character tournedos of untenderized thought. Admittedly, there are drawbacks to expelling every rashly considered impulsivity into the ether. My dogs will disagree but some itches are best left unscratched.

Compared to tweeting, however, ruminations posted on a blog necessitate more marination. This hopefully translates into less likelihood of inflicted harm. Unfortunately, this means the windows of currency to comment on what’s topical a given day or week are soon closed.

Instead of one longer post, here are random notes — albeit longer than 140 characters.

From the SMH File

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/38/See_No_Evil%2C_Hear_No_Evil%2C_Speak_No_Evil.jpg/320px-See_No_Evil%2C_Hear_No_Evil%2C_Speak_No_Evil.jpgNot long after the ABA House of Delegates voted against a proposal that to meet accreditation standards, 75 percent of an ABA-accredited law school’s graduates must pass a bar exam within a two-year period — the ABA put Arizona Summit Law in Phoenix on probation for low bar-passage rates. Bar passage rates have dropped to 25 percent at Arizona Summit for first-time bar exam takers, which obviously meant that the studiously unaware ABA was finally forced to take action against one of the nation’s most expensive law schools.

In a bit of unintentional understatement following the probation announcement, the executive director of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit legal education policy and watchdog organization, declared “the decision highlights the A.B.A.’s increasing courage in holding schools accountable.” With apologies to Polonius, if this be courage let there be method in it. See “For-Profit Law School in Arizona Is Put on Probation.”

More from the SMH File

File:Noaa-walrus31.jpgOne only has to read this year’s candidates’ statements to appreciate the continuing conflated confusion of lawyer thinking that results from the State Bar of Arizona’s conflicted regulator and trade association mission. Is the State Bar of Arizona a regulator protecting the public interest? Or is it a trade association serving and protecting members’ interests? It can’t be both — not without a walrus-sized conflict of interest.

And what about its court-mandated raison d’être “to serve and protect the public with respect to the provision of legal services and access to justice”?

But as the following excerpts demonstrate, virtually every candidate believes that running for a seat on the Arizona Bar’s Board of Governors means they’ll be acting on behalf of members’ interests. With elections coming up in two counties, candidates are asking either for “the opportunity to serve my fellow lawyers” or to be “a voice for solo and young lawyers” or that “the needs of our members are voiced and heard” or pledging to “make sure the Bar is here to help attorneys, not hurt them.” And of course there are the usual vague variations on the tried-and-tested trade association theme of serving “to ensure the Bar is working for its members” or that it “performs more services for the membership.”

Promises promises.

Also from the SMH File

Almost 7 years to the day after New Jersey said a so-called “virtual office” did not qualify as a bona fide office, a New Jersey lawyer also licensed in New York and also without benefit and burden of a bricks and mortar office in New York has filed a U.S. Supreme Court petition to overturn the New York rule that prohibits her from practicing in New York without said bricks and mortar office in the state. New Jersey didn’t change its anti-virtual office rule until 2013.

New Jersey used to have the same bona fide office restriction, i.e., “a bona fide office is a place where clients are met, files are kept, the telephone is answered, mail is received and the attorney or a responsible person acting on the attorney’s behalf can be reached in person and by telephone during normal business hours to answer questions posed by the courts,clients or adversaries and to ensure that competent advice from the attorney can be obtained within a reasonable period of time.” 

For more about lawyer Ekaterina Schoenefeld’s 9-year bona fide office battle, see Catherine Elefant’s always timely My Shingle post at “Solo Seeks To Challenge Archaic Bonafide Office Rules at the Supremes.”

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Photo credits: The three monkeys: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, by John Snape at Wikimedia Commons, the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License; Odobenus rosmarus at Wikimedia Commons, public domain; frustrated gif at giphy.com;SMH at http://gph.is/1WqoSOE at giphy.com.

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Black-and-white film screenshot with the title of the film in fancy font. Below it is the text Casablanca — a story about a man caught between love and virtue came to mind this week after reading that law firm client Adam Victor had sued his lawyers over an allegedly inflated legal bill.

Not that a fee dispute between a lawyer and his client is anything new. All the same, I couldn’t help but recall that classic movie and particularly, Vichy Captain Louis Renault’s quip about how disingenuously shocked he was to discover gaming going on in nightclub owner Rick Blaine’s “Rick’s Café Américain.”

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here,” Captain Renault said as a croupier hands him a pile of money. “Oh thank you, very much.”

photoInterestingly, in the original play upon which the film was based, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s,” nightclub owner Rick Blaine was a lawyer. Always — with the lawyer.

But when it comes to love and virtue, and specifically love of money and virtue over fees — what to make of seeing lawyers again in a bad light?

And lawyers accused of overbilling? Should we be “shocked, shocked”? Hardly the novel recrimination — not when you consider that when it comes to whether fees are excessive, you have to shock a lawyer’s conscience.

So much, too, for embarrassment or for thinking of Philip Dormer Stanhope Chesterfield’s rejoinder against the Lord Shaftesbury’s “ridicule is the best test of truth; for that it will not stick where it is not just.”

“Churn that bill, baby!”

When the world’s largest law firm, DLA Piper, sued their client over $675,000 in unpaid legal bills, Adam Victor did what all clients do when pressed. He countered. In his case, he accused the firm of the “sweeping practice of overbilling.”

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​And thanks to pretrial discovery, disadvantageous exasperations happen. Once the firm turned over internal communications to Victor’s lawyers — the Bandini hit the fan.

photoTake DLA Piper lawyer Christopher Thomson’s email, which said of a colleague working on Victor’s bill, “Now Vince has random people working full time on random research projects in standard ‘churn that bill, baby!’ mode. That bill shall know no limits.” Oy vey!

Overripe mackerels.

When it comes lawyers and their billing practices, something previously explained at “more art than science,” the topic is overripe — indeed, redolent of that proverbial mackerel stinking in the moonlight.

It’s the stuff of the credulous honest heart fancying a belief in “the lawyer who under-charged . . . and other fairy tales.”

To avoid such astonishments, then, clients would do well to heed what Mae West once observed, “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.”

Or in a more serious-minded vein, to note longtime lawyer blogger Carolyn Elefant’s remonstrations on the matter of lawyer overbilling — “so long as lawyers are driven by a desire to maximize revenue, without regard to the client’s best interest, then clients will suffer.”

File:Butter1web.jpgTo which the DLA Piper/Victor fee dispute unsurprisingly leads, it’s the question begged by Forrest Wickman, a.k.a. the Explainer at Slate Magazine, who asks, “When did lawyers get such a bad reputation?”

Looking chronologically, culturally and humorously at what underpins the practice known as Churn That Bill, Baby!”, Wickman provides his answers.

But if Wickman’s explanations still don’t suffice, there’s always this:

A man phones a lawyer and asks, “How much would you charge for just answering three simple questions?”
The lawyer replies, “A thousand dollars.”
“A thousand dollars!” exclaims the man. “That’s very expensive isn’t it?”
“It certainly is,” says the lawyer. “Now, what’s your third question?”

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Photo Credits: “Screenshot of the title screen of the trailer,” at Wikipedia Commons via public domain; “paul henreid, ingrid bergman & humphrey bogart – casablanca 1943,” by Raoul Luoar at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; “Danger! Manure!,” by whatleydude at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; “Mrs. Grace Herr churns butter at her farm home, Butter1web.jpg” at Wikipedia Commons, by the National Agricultural Library of the United States Department of Agriculture‘s Agricultural Research Service. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

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