Dickensian lawyering, on deaf ears?

by Walter Olson on December 12, 2007

In Lawrence v. Graubard Miller (Dec. 1), an 83-year-old widow appears to have been spectacularly imposed upon by her fee-seeking lawyers, nor is it clear that the courts will afford her any remedy. David Giacalone wonders why so few legal bloggers have taken an interest in the case (Dec. 11).

{ 5 comments }

1 TC 12.12.07 at 6:46 am

My mother was recently shisted by some UT attys that seem to semi specialize in taking on cases of the elderly.

Her case was silly and in reality self destructive, but hey, I’m just her son.

Oh well these guys thought it prudent to create four different fee agreements in the span of two months.

Each agreement, it seems, expanded the pool they would add up and take their fees from.

Oh in court the case was a total loss! Her attorneys very quickly caved in and self forced into an agreement. BTW an agreement that was less by a third what she had been offered before expensive attorneys got involved.

Her story got no press either! She was wrong, such was obvious by the preceding 4 attys not taking her case, but the ones that did are outright thieves!

Seems to me the “club” does not even desire us to laugh at them in jokes? Can you imagine if a site opened up where you could really disclose the tactics they use and of course provide credit for such as well.

The only real difference is the size of the numbers above, but ya gotta start somewhere. John Edwards could have said that, don’t ya think?

2 Ima Fish 12.12.07 at 4:12 pm

I don’t get the fuss. The lady entered into a contract giving her attorneys 40% of whatever they get for her. Now after the fact she wants to back out of it.

That’s one thing I don’t get about this website. You guys talk about the sanctity of contracts, until a lawyer is benefited by one, then you feel they should be tossed out like garbage. You guys can’t have it both ways without losing any sense of objectivity.

3 Ted 12.12.07 at 5:05 pm

Her lawyers took $18 million in hourly fees, schnorred another $7 million in “gifts”, and then, with a $60M settlement offer on the table, renegotiated a 40% “contingent” fee that guaranteed that their hourly rate would be paid for another $1.2 million, win or lose. If that’s an arms-length contract, fine, except contracts between an attorney and an existing client are subject to an underlying fiduciary duty between the attorney and the client.

That said, my sympathies for the client are somewhat diminished by the fact that she was the one who opened renegotiations after tiring of the hourly fees she was paying.

4 Ima Fish 12.13.07 at 10:00 am

“Her lawyers took $18 million in hourly fees…”

When a person is screwed by a multinational corporation but is unable to sue because of a forced arbitration agreement, you guys applaud. There is no hint about the fact that the little guy has no chance to actually negotiate a contract because every single multinational corporation forces the same arbitration agreement.

But when a rich women freely enters into a contingency fee agreement with her attorneys, and there were countless other attorneys she could have contracted with under her own terms, suddenly contracts are bad.

I agree with the purpose of this blog 100%. I agree that the United States is utterly overlawyered. But if you guys expect others to agree with you, you can’t be so obviously biased in favor of the rich. If you think contracts are unfair when freely negotiated by a rich person, you have to admit they’re unfair when forced upon a poor person, because he has no other choice.

5 Deoxy 12.14.07 at 3:57 pm

Ima,

You are ignoring that lawyers have a fiduciary duty to existing clients. This is a case of unthical behaviour by the lawyers in question, end of story.

That is, one gos to a lawyer and PAYS a lawyer to have your interests in mind. That’s part of the service you are paying for. To get the point across, this would be like you entrusting your money to the bank, and the banker taking it to boys night out and gambling it away. It is wrong.

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