What do you call 5,000 dead lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? - A good start.
Okay, I’ll be serious now. Simply put, a good lawyer is someone who doesn’t charge much.
- That doesn’t sound like a serious answer, but it is.
- What most people don’t understand about lawyers is
- their primary business is billing you for all you’re worth.
It may sound pretty cynical, but let me tell you a story
- One time, a friend of mine — a lawyer — took over his wife’s divorce business for 2 weeks,
- while she was traveling. (She was also a lawyer.)
- He met with a half-dozen of her clients.
- They all wanted to spend hours complaining about their husbands.
- He listened politely for 10 or 20 minutes and then said:
- “Let’s cut to the chase. This is a 50/50 state. You are not going to get any more than 50% from him, even if you think he’s a scumbag.”
- And he felt proud. He had saved them wasted billing hours.
- But when his wife came back, she found irate messages from her clients waiting for her.
- Her clients were upset because they weren’t getting the whining time they wanted.
- What they wanted was the therapeutic effect of having their husbands pay for legal sessions,
- in which the lawyer helped them imagine totally bankrupting their spouses,
- even though it was not a possibility.
- Now, this was an honest lawyer
- He wanted to help his wife’s clients.
- But he realized that honesty has no place in the legal profession
- So he got out and became a businessman.
If you want to do business, you need legal documents
- But you don’t need to pay big dollars for 90% of what you hire lawyers to do.
- Much of the work commercial lawyers perform can be done (and often is done) by their legal secretaries.
- There is little commercial work that requires a great deal of expertise.
- And when it does, most high-priced lawyers are no more competent than low-priced lawyers.
- In fact, in my experience, the expensive lawyer will take longer to come to the wrong conclusion.
- I’d rather pay $150 than $450 for questionable advice.
- And when it comes to lawyers who defend you from serious problems like civil suits or even government or criminal lawsuits...
I’ll tell you what these lawyers do
1. they tell you that you’ve been victimized by the system and
2. that you shouldn’t be punished.
- Filled with hope, you agree to hire them.
3. Then they spend lots of time reviewing your documents &
- talking to the other lawyers about your case.
4. Then they get back to you.
- Even though it’s unfair, they say your predicament is bad.
- There is a good chance you will be put in the electric chair.
- Your only hope is to turn over your entire bank account to them.
- and you agree.
5. Then they review your documents again & talk more to the other lawyers
- and bill you for everybody’s time.
- Before long, you’re broke.
6. Then they settle the case.
- What you find out later is that the settlement had already been agreed upon at the first meeting
- while you still had plenty of money in your bank account.
I’m not saying all lawyers are bad. Shakespeare did first
- I have, truth be told, had a good experience with a lawyer in the past.
- In fact, I’ve had several.
- One is with my local real estate guy.
- He charges me $150 per hour & does everything quickly and efficiently.
- He is honest. I’m happy with him.
- The other is with the attorney, who handles my movie-making business.
- She’s a real expert, an amazing negotiator, and she takes care of me like I’m a member of her family.
- She gets the most complicated stuff done in no time at all.
- I can sign her invoices without even looking at them, because I know they’ll always be reasonable.
So if you’re on the hunt for a good lawyer, I have a few recommendations
The 1-st rule:
- Never hire a lawyer because someone told you he’s “the best in the business”
- That means: he’s extremely expensive & knows a hundred ways to rack up his fees.
- Unless you’re a celebrity (in which case helping you out will be a credit to him),
- there’s a good chance the fancy lawyer will sell you down the river, while he’s charging you huge fees.
The 2-nd rule:
- Never hire a lawyer, whose office is bigger and nicer than your home.
- A lawyer’s office is like a casino.
- The nicer it looks, the worse it is for you.
- Someone’s got to pay for that fancy furniture.
- That someone is you.
The 3-rd rule:
- Control their time
- Get them to give you a fixed price in advance.
- If you can’t do that, then get them to give you an estimate, and lean on them to keep to it.
The 4-th rule:
- I only interview lawyers who have been recommended by friends.
- And I won’t hire them, unless I like them, unless I feel like I’d want to hang out with them.
The 5-th rule:
- most people don’t know: You can negotiate a legal bill, if you think it’s too high.
- Little guys don’t do this, but big clients do. All the time.
Let me end here by simply saying that lawyers are good for one thing: they make used car salesmen look honest.