Jim Sokolove, Stanford, and the “Roadmap to Justice”

by Walter Olson on January 15, 2009

TV’s biggest lawyer-advertiser is Boston’s James Sokolove, whose ad budget of $20 million/year makes him a widely recognized figure (and much parodized on YouTube). He’s reportedly offered $1,500 apiece for mesothelioma leads, seen his name in an episode of “The Sopranos”, and even advertised for patent plaintiffs. Turns out he hasn’t seen the inside of a courtroom in nearly thirty years, instead farming out his callers to others. [Boston mag via Ambrogi] “The message behind his ads, he says, is simple: Injured? Free money.”

Now his Sokolove Charitable Fund is giving him a shot at new respectability with help from no less august an institution than Stanford Law School (thank you, Prof. Deborah Rhode), It’s bankrolling something called the Roadmap to Justice Project, which will push the much-criticized-in-this-space “Civil Gideon” idea (a newly invented Constitutional entitlement to taxpayer coverage of lawyers’ fees in civil lawsuits).

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PointOfLaw Forum
01.26.09 at 10:45 pm

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1 PhilG 01.15.09 at 11:41 am

In the Boston magazine profile on Jim Sokolove, it says “Sokolove decided he’d start referring the bulk of his cases to other firms, collecting 10 percent of all fees in return”. That gives the impression that he currently collects only 10 percent of the contingency fee as his referral fee. But the going rate for referral fees is much higher, around a third or so of the contingency fee.

So I am quite suspicious that Jim Sokolove currently keeps closer to the going rate of a third of the contingency fee than that 10 percent that he spreaks of in the article. But he probably deliberately gave that misleading figure since he thought it would be more palatable to the public than what he really keeps, which is probably more in the range of a third or so of the contingency fee.

Perhaps at the very beginning of his business of being a lawyer advertiser he did charge only 10 percent of the contingency fee although, if he did, I suspect that would have been only for a very short period of time until he realized how much he really could get since contingency fees are so incredibly profitable to the lawyers collecting them.

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