Why Lawyers Piss Me Off

[Preface: I have a law degree from an accredited law school. (Finished 32 of 128, after semester 1, I was 5 out of 168.) About half way through I became very sickened with the profession. I now handle bankruptcies and foreclosures for regional bank. I deal a lot with laywers - the ones that we pay to represent us, the guys in corporate legal, and the attorneys that we are on the other side of the v. of. I know there are “good” lawyers out there, I just see way too many that in over their heads, that are in it for the money, etc. There are many lawyers on this board, and this is not directed towards any of them in particular.]

Incident #1 - While clerking, the attorney I was working for took a case involving who was to be the heir under an armed forces life insurance policy. The law was very clear - not only statutes, but case law that supported the client. The attorney I worked for had a military background and knew this. He could have taken the case on an hourly basis or a percentage. He encouraged the client (a 73 year old woman) to take the contingency deal. He then gave me the facts and asked me to write a motion and supporting brief. It took me 2 hours. I was being paid $10/hour (billed out at $75, BTW). We won on summary judgment. Attorney’s total time = Less than 3 hours. Attorney’s take = $30,000.00. His take on an hourly basis? Less than $1500. (My take = $20, fee sharing is illegal because the lawyers make the rules.)

Incident #2 - A debtor has filed a chapter 7 BK - his client is about 7 payments delinquent on his new house. I’m willing to cure the delinquency and let the client keep his house, but I’d like the debtor to reaffirm the debt. The attorney calls me and asks me (as far as he knows just a guy at the bank - I don’t advertise to adversary attorneys that I have a degree) what the consequences of reaffirming are. Um, hello, dumbass, this isn’t some intricate detail of law! Christ, look in the fucking legal dictionary behind you. I could tell you, but it’s $175 per hour.

Incident #3 - A chapter 13 BK. We file our proof of claim. It consists of two parts, a Total claim (what it would take to pay the debt off at the time the filing) and an Arrearage Claim (the amount the debtor is past due when they file). In this case the total was about $30k and the arrearage around $6k. The debtor’s plan (as is common) called for the arrearage to be paid through the trustee and the post-petition payments to be made directly by the debtor to the bank. The fucking dumbass attorney objected to our claim because “the arrearage claim was included in the total cliam.” Well, yeah, shithead, if you’re planning on paying the whole thing off it will obviously include the delinquent payments. He also advised his client not to make the post petition payments. He even called me and told me I was wrong!!! Case was dismissed two weeks later, and his client is out cash because she had to find a lawyer who knew what the fuck he was talking about.

Incident #4 - An attorney representing us (there’s a “region” in our bank that the head honcho insists on assigning who will be the lawyer - hey, what the hell, he gets free dinner and golf from them once in a while!) - The debtor’s attorney sends me a letter asking for the amount required to pay the loan off by such and such a date. In order to quote this figure I need to know what the legal fees/costs will be through then. So I send our attorney a fax requesting the amount of fees/costs and set the file aside. Two weeks later the debtors attorney sends me a letter, bitching that he never got the payoff (and threatening a countersuit for our refusal to cooperate with his clients right to redeem - we honestly didn’t send the payoff quote to him because I didn’t get the fee quote back). I get on the phone to our attorney, who was copied on the letter and ask him again for the fees, reminding him that I asked for them two weeks ago. He says, “yeah, I have your fax asking for the fees, and I’m sure I sent them to you.” (Why he doesn’t have a copy of his fax back to me, I don’t know.) It ends up OK, though. But…our attorney calls me back and has the gall to say “boy, I saved you on that one.” To which I reply, “Well, it obviously slipped through the cracks, but it looks like it was your crack.” He won’t be getting anymore cases.

Incident #5 - Again, one of our attorneys. I almost cracked on this one. He was handling a foreclosure for us. The debtor filed a chapter 13 BK. I called his office for fees/costs to include in our proof of claim. An hour later I got a fax with the fees/costs. No problem, I filed the proof of claim. Two days later I get a message from someone in his office to send them the delinquency figures so they can file the proof of claim (a simple form I can complete in less than 15 minutes, but the attorneys charge me $75 if they - or rather, their assistants - do it). So I call them up and say, “it’s okay, I can handle the proof of claim, thanks.” Today, I walk into the office and there’s a bill from this idiot for a Motion for Relief from Stay that this jackass filed. No one from the bank (his client) told him to do this. It’s also less than 30 days since the debtor filed. BK judges are very “fair” minded when it comes to the debtor (and rightfully so, IMO), and want to give the filer a chance. They don’t appreciate lenders trying to get out of a chapter 13 (if their debt is included in the plan - ours was) until the debtor defaults on the plan. I called our attorney and told him to close his file on this case and forward it to me. And if he ever files a motion without the bank’s instruction again he can cross us off his client list (and his Martindale-Hubble client list as well). Fucker! Now I have to spend more money to withdraw the motion.

My last gripe on lawyers (for now) – I constantly see attorneys on the board who refuse to answer legal questions (under the pretense that they will some how become liable to the poster based on their response. Bullshit! You have no attorney/client relationship here, you have every right to voice your opinion based on a fact pattern, and so long as you preface your response accordingly you will not be held liable. Find me a case that shows otherwise.) No, instead they tell you to go see a lawyer over very simple matters. “Oh, you got a $15 parking ticket under these circumstances. Well, I could give you my opinion, but it would be robbing one of my brethren $250, so I suggest you call an attorney.”

Lawyers are like any other profession, there are good ones, bad ones, honest ones, and dishonest ones. The problem with lawyers is that one bad or dishonest lawyer can fuck up EVERYBODYS weekend. The problems that a bad lawyer can cause are so out of of whack with the effort expended.

Take incident 5: The effort expended by that lawyer was probably measured in a few hours, however the effect he had on the situation caused many hours of time and money to straighten out.

Because of this the bad ones get noticed more. IMHO

I disagree. There are no good lawyers. There are, of course, some good people (more often than not people who BELIEVE they are good) who enter the field with good intentions, but how long do they last? Every well intentioned (naive) lawyer has to compromise themselves sooner or later. It’s usually sooner than later, then they get used to it and, of course, it pays well.

You cannot be a lawyer unless you are very cynical, it goes with the turf, and, in theory, you shouldn’t care less whether your client is innocent or guilty regardless of what you know about them or what they stand accused of. Law is a bad, bad business. It isn’t about justice, it isn’t about winning cases it’s all about dragging out proceedings for the greatest number of billable hours. It’s a parasitic industry feeding off either peoples misfortune or business’ greed. And it keeps on growing. Every year more legislation is passed than in the previous year (all of it made up nonsense in the high minds of the out of touch) and every year more people enter the profession. Do we really need it all? Can we ever be rid of it? The more it spreads, the more acceptable it becomes to ordinary people, most of whom lack the interest or insight to understand it’s true nature. It’s like a great monkey on the back of society, ever growing and ever tightening it’s grip.

Lawyers are scumfucks. You enter the profession and you’ve made your choice.You’re either down with power and all it stands for or you’re down with people. But…Oh, what’s that?.. You thought you could make a difference and do some good? Wake up, ignorance is no defence before the law and it certainlly isn’t a defence to those who have spent three or four years studying it.

By the way I am a Law student about to enter my final year who did want to be a lawyer (and still could) before I lost my innocence (thank goodness I still have my scruples) but I’ve already seen enough and will be looking elsewhere to fill my belly and pay my bills.

Damn right I’ve got an axe to grind. What about it?

I think I’ll just wait here and watch in awe when someone like Jodi (one of the wonderful people on this board who also happens to be a lawyer) rips your post to shreds. That’ll be fun to watch.

Also, I’d like a cite to any thread where a lawyer on the board has used a flimsy excuse to avoid a simple legal question. One where the lawyer in question could give advice that would be any sort of suitable replacement for actually seeing a lawyer. I’ve never seen that. I have seen lawyers hesitate to give advice in a vague situation dealing with a state they are unfamiliar with.

I may get to your “incidents” if I have time later today, but for the moment, I just want to respond to this:

Like I give a rat’s ass whether some lawyer in East Armpit, N.J. loses out on a fee because of something I’ve stated on this board. :rolleyes:

I’m also well aware that there is no attorney-client relationship formed between anonymous posters on a bulletin board. Not that that would stop a pissed off “client” from asserting such a relationship. Even lawyers are cautious about exposing themselves to a lawsuit.

No, the real reason I do not give legal advice on this board is because I do not know jack shit about the poster’s situation. Any lawyer who gives legal advice based on a biased, one- or two-paragraph description of a situation, without the opportunity to ask the dozens of questions that would adequately clarify the problem, is a goddamned idiot.

Just like any doctor who would attempt to diagnose a poster’s headache is a goddamned idiot.


I’m not sure what she’ll rip apart. I’ve described 5 instances where my interaction with lawyers has completely pissed me off. It stems from those attorneys’ greed, taking on cases they have no business handling, or overreaching the responsibilities delegated to them by their client.

Christ, in the preface alone I stressed the fact that this is not an attack on all lawyers! The only quibble I can see is perhaps with the last paragraph. I’m searching for some threads, but there’s a lot of law based ones out there.

The first paragraph was a response to DKD. I usually don’t quote if I’m responding to the previous post. Then again, I usually don’t address a different person halfway through without making it clear. Sorry.


Then your thread title is misleading, and it’s causing me mental anguish. Will you be available later this afternoon to accept service of process?


Lawyers also have a lot to live up to. I want them all to be like Atticus Finch but it usually turns out they are no better than the rest of us.

Okay, here’s my take:

Incident #1: The lawyer acted unethically in taking a contingency fee, at least if he knew the state of the law unquestionably supported the client. If the client had later complained, he could have been sanctioned the local disciplinary board. But as for your $20 fee, cry me the Mississippi River. The fact that you made $20 instead of sharing in the profits has nothing to do with rules against fee-sharing with non-lawyers. You were a salaried employee–a clerk, no less–not a partner in the firm.

Incident #2: It was not smart to call the adversary about a basic legal definition. But we all gotta learn somewhere, and it was probably a lot more efficient than billing the client for research time. Besides, maybe he needed clarification about what the bank was requesting, not just a definition of “reaffirming the debt.”

Incident #3: The lawyer’s a dumbass.

Incident #4: The lawyer’s a dumbass and an asshole.

Incident #5: Actually, I don’t quite get #5. What’s the connection between the proof of claim and the motion to stay? Of course, filing the motion without first consulting with the client (were you just out of the loop) is pretty bad. But I feel like I’m missing something here.

Surely, however, you recognize that dumbasses and assholes are hardly confined to the legal profession. And have you ever bothered to appreciate the many times a lawyer has saved you or your bank’s neck?

Balduran: Atticus Finch was an amateur. Come on, the guy never even filed a motion to transfer venue. :stuck_out_tongue:

My comment regarding the $20 I was paid was more trying to focus on the fact that it didn’t cost him very much out of pocket.


No, he asked me, “if they reaffirm will they still be responsible for the debt after the discharge?” Well, umm, yeah, that’s what it means.

The comment on the proof of claim was that I had called them to request the fees so I could file the proof of claim, which they sent. Then two days later they call for info so they could file a proof of claim. Again, they seem to be taking action without instruction.

Nope, not out of the loop. He just went and did it on his own. I guess he’s done similar things in the past with other departments.


Of course, there’s all kinds in every profession. I’m having lunch with one of our attorney’s today. The guy is great. He knows debtor/creditor law and confines his practice to it. He calls me to see what course of action I want to take on a given case even if it’s something I’ve wanted done the same way the last 100 cases he called me on.

My rant came after a very frustrating day (dealing with #5) and I just wanted to vent. That’s why I specifically noted that I realize that are good lawyers.

Fair enough. I’ll go ahead and put that defamation lawsuit back into the filing cabinet.

I notice you’re not putting it throught the shredder. Saving it for later, huh? :wink:

[Preface: I have a law degree from an accredited law school. (Not sure where I finished since I never gave a shit about that, but did well enough to secure a state supreme court clerkship when I graduated – and they did care where I finished.) About half way through I became very sickened with bankruptcy and foreclosure work. It is mind-numbingly boring; it has little, if any, redeeming social value; you spend all your time shuffling paper; and 99% of the time you are either (a) representing a debtor trying to avoid a legitimate debt s/he owes; or (b) representing a behemouth corporation or bank attempting to suck the last drop of blood out of someone who is so strapped that they have filed for bankruptcy. Take your pick. I know there are “good” bankruptcy professionals out there, I just see way too many that in over their heads, that are in it for the money, etc. There are many bankruptcy professionals on this board, and this is not directed towards any of them in particular.]

GAZOO – Forgive me if I don’t bother to respond to your stunning examples of what you consider to be bad lawyering, but I have never said that every lawyer is a good lawyer. I could respond with some of my experiences dealing with doctors, nurses, plumbers, police officers, bankers, and expert witnesses of every stripe, all of whom have done things that would curl your hair. I could also tell you about dealing with bankruptcy people (lawyers and others) who are so mired down in their own little paper-intensive area of expertise that they wouldn’t have an original thought unless they saw a new reg mandating it. There are idiots, users, and asssholes in every profession. What a shocker! :rolleyes:

THIS, however, pisses me off:

First, I am a professional. I have a certain skill set that I have paid a LOT of money to acquire. I am under no obligation to answer legal questions posted on an Internet message board. That is a request to take advantage of a service that I sell for money and I’d like to hear any rationale for requiring me to give that service away. (And I do give the service away, BTW; I give it away to indigent people who need it, through my local pro bono program.) I answer legal questions here that I find interesting – just like I answer other kinds of questions here that I find interesting. If it doesn’t interest me, I don’t respond – just like with every other type of question. Do you contend that a doctor who declines to answer specific medical questions is doing so only to avoid “robbing” a fellow doctor of a fee? As if, as MINTY GREEN said, I give a shit whether a lawyer in Alabama gets to answer the question or not. I mean, we try to be collegial within the profession, but come on.

Second, the issue of offering advice in cyberspace is not as simple as you would like to make it. It is no longer true that an attorney-client relationship is an absolute prerequisite for a finding of malpractice – especially in the medium of cyberspace. You want a cite? Here ya go: Hunt, Brad, Lawyers in Cyberspace: Legal Malpractice on Computer Bulletin Boards, 1996 U. Chi. Legal F. 553. (Note I did not say, as I easily could have, “Um, hello, dumbass, you have a law degree! Christ, look in the fucking law library. I could tell you, but it’s $175 per hour.”) Offering off-the-cuff advice on legal subjects you, as a lawyer, don’t know much about may well be malpractice. Only a fool would do it without at a minimum prefacing the advice with a big fat disclaimer. And the wiser course is obviously not to do it at all.

Third, responding to people who ask for specific legal advice (not “Is this action I read about constitutional?” but “How do I get out of this DUI?”) encourages the erroneous belief that it is okay for a person to rely on legal advice he or she receives in cyberspace, from someone they don’t know, who probably doesn’t practice in their jurisdiction, and who has nothing invested in giving them correct, much less good, advice. Let me bold this for easy reference: IF YOU HAVE A LEGAL QUESTION THAT PERTAINS TO YOUR REAL LIFE AND HOW YOU SHOULD ACT IN IT, THEN GO ASK A REAL-LIFE LAWYER. This is not me garnering fees for my anonymous bretheren; this is me recognizing that specific legal problems in specific jurisdictions should be address by people who (a) understand the problem and (b) practice in that jurisdiction. It takes balls of solid brass for you to imply that refusing to routinely dole out off-the-cuff free legal advice is an indicator of what jerks we lawyers are, as opposed to the necessary product of desiring to both safeguard our reputations and refrain from doing injury to someone else by giving them bad advice. Listen, you have a law degree; if you want to spend all your time around here answering the myriad legal questions posted, from whether its possible to murder a person whose already dead to whether I, Poster X, should move for sole custody of my kids, then you go, boy. But don’t tell me how I should be spending my time. And if I choose not to spend it doling out free legal advice, kindly keep your erroneous assumptions about that choice to yourself.

DKD – I would like to personally thank you for choosing not to become a lawyer. Because you would suck at it in every way it would be possible to suck. May you have success and happiness in your chosen field (whatever that may be), and please continue to stay the fuck away from the law.

Waterj2 the misleader:

So it’s me who is to be torn to shreds is it?

Well, I may have gone over the top at the end (I’m under a lot of stress, exams coming up, boring, complex, boring, nonsensical, boring stuff) not all lawyers are scumfucks. Some of them can and do do good things for ordinary people.

However, you cannot defend the profession. Any good points it has are a secondary consequence born from its true nature and intention. It is dirty, fee orientated and in scope largely unjustified (particularly for you lot in the States). The points raised by Gazoo are typical and but the tip of a largely unsavoury iceberg.

Still, I’d be extremely entertained to read any coherent defence of the legal profession as I have yet to come accross any significant redeeming feature that it may actually possess. Hope you enjoy your waiting and watching in awe.

Here’s one for you, DKD. The legal profession dissuades people from stringing up idiots such as yourself from the nearest tree. Sure, some people might see this as a strike against our legal system, but I’m the sort of open-minded person who thinks the costs of allowing morons to consume our oxygen is more than offset by your ditch-digging skills.

Ah, Jodi, we must have been rattling away at the same time, but you beat me to the post.

Your points are fair, though typical and unimaginative and It is nice to know that you do give free advice to the needy when you can, very comendable. Notwithstanding, I think we understand where your loyalties lie.

However, to the point; I am not convinced that your attack upon my good self is entirely justified. I am curious as to what knowledge or information you are privy to that led to your assertion that I would “suck at it in every way it would be possible to suck” (nice turn of phrase, your command of language is splendid as is your level of wit) should I have continued to pursue the fire and brimstone pathway that leads to the Bar. Do you jump to such conclusions in the courtroom?

Water2j: Not sure that such comments constitute a “ripping apart” by any stretch of the imagination.

What have I done to upset you, Minty Green? I know that your great nation (presumptuous I know, but you are American arn’t you?) has a great tradition of stringing people up but why would anyone want to see me hanged (I am white, you know)?

Am I an idiot?

Only in so far as you are open minded.

I’m not so quick to dismiss the idea that no liability could possibly ensue from a posting on a public message board. Several law review articles suggest otherwise (in addition to Jodi’s mention, see Gruber, E-Mail: The Attorney-Client Privilege Applied, 66 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 624 (1998); Leonard, *The High-Tech Legal Practice: Attorney-Client Communications and the Internet, *69 U. Colo. L. Rev. 851 (1998); Steimer, Cyberlaw: Legal Malpractice in the Age of Online Lawyers, 63 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 332 (1995). In addition, at least two state bars, Illinois and Indiana, have issued advisory opinions concerning possible malpractice arising from answering message board posts with substantive legal advice.

Since the gravamen of the practice of law is advice and counsel to laymen on the application of the law to a particular set of facts, it may well constitute the unauthorized practice of law if I were to offer advice to someone in a state in which I’m not licensed to practice.

Of course, as my colleagues have already made clear, even if those were not concerns, it would be irresponsible in any event for a lawyer to offer opinions without a chance to ask the myriad questions I’d normally ask in a client interview. Since my practice was criminal law, the consequences of someone relying on my off-the-cuff analysis of their situation could be severe. Indeed, a desperate appellate attorney might subpoena me to answer questions about whether my advice was effective, in the pursuit of an appellate Strickland-type claim.

No, thanks. I’ll respond to generalized or hypothetical questions about criminal law that are of interest, but I am not at all sanguine about offering specific legal advice to strangers - just as they should be leery of accepting it.

  • Rick