"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A perfect way to fleece a client - the "minimum increment" billing policy

Any attorney who worked in a large law firm will tell you that the increment in billing their clients is 6 minutes.

What does that mean?

It means that no matter how much actual time your attorney have spent on reviewing, let's say, a 1-page letter from the court assigning a judge (even if it is a whole of 2 seconds), he will still charge you at 6 minutes, and if the attorney's hourly rate is from $175.00 an hour upwards (which is usually the case), you will be charged $17.50 and upwards instead of pennies.

Will you believe that your attorney stared, a presumably intelligent human being, hired for his/her intelligence, was staring at a sheet of paper that, let's say, said: "Judge XYZ was assigned to your case" for the whole of 6 minutes - that is 360 seconds, you can count to 360 while staring at a piece of paper to see how long that is - while doing what?  Providing you a professional legal service?  At upwards of $175.00 an hour?  A stare for 6 minutes straight at a sheet of paper with a name of a judge is provision of a professional service?

It is insane to believe this, isn't it?

Do you have enough money to give away to people who stare at pieces of paper for 6 minutes?

If your attorney needs 6 minutes to stare at a letter assignment of a judge, what kind of legal services such an attorney can provide you?

Of course, your attorney never stared at a sheet of paper for 6 minutes, he or she is really not that stupid.

He simply used his firm's "policy" that no matter how short was his cursory glance at the assignment of a judge (and possibly, his secretary just told him who is assigned and he did not even look at that letter), the "policy" is to bill at 6-minute's increments.

So, the attorney is determined to fleece you of the full 6 minutes' worth of his time, at $175.00 an hour, even though no professional services you hired the attorney to provide, were provided to you during those 6 minutes.  

Why this fleecing is occurring?

Because you did not say "no".

And because you are not saying "no", your attorney from a large law firm can bill you repeatedly for reviewing separate 1-page documents at 6 minutes' increments instead of for the actual time he or she spent working on your case.

If litigation is long enough, and often it lasts for years, you will be paying through your nose for air, simply for time added to the actual time worked because of the "billing increment" policy of the law firm - or because their billing software works only in 6 minutes increments.

Of course, disciplinary rules prohibit attorneys to bill for time not actually worked and for services not actually provided.

But who cares?  Certainly not the large law firms.

The way around disciplinary rules for law firms are - to hire a number of governmental officials, their relatives, and especially those who are related to or worked for a judge.

With such a live shield, no discipline will ever be even attempted against such law firms, and they can continue to happily fleece their clients, at 6-minute increments.

How to fight this robbery?

Of course, to ask your attorney to specifically put into the written retainer agreement that you agree to pay only for the time actually worked, not for the billing increment policy of the law firm, and certainly not for how their billing software works.

You are the master of your own retainer agreement, so it is in your power to stop the robbery.

Say "no" to the 6-minute "minimum increment" billing by large law firms.

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