Obviously, the only place to get legal services is from a lawyer, but how do you choose the right lawyer for your needs? This series will look at some items to consider when selecting the right lawyer for you. Here is some insight into the legal profession to help you choose a lawyer.
Since the invention of the light bulb, the technology remained mostly unchanged for over 100 years until new light bulb technology was brought to widespread use in the marketplace during the last decade. Changes in the political realm forced light bulb manufacturers to produce new, more efficient products that produce as much or more light with a fraction of the energy use of the older incandescent bulb. These days it is hard to find incandescent bulbs for sale, and the shelves are stocked with LED bulbs that last for decades.
For decades there has been a perception that big law firms must provide better service than small firms or solo lawyers. Surely, a big name firm in a high rise office building that charges $500-$1000 per hour must provide the best legal representation, right? Maybe not. In the same way that incandescent bulbs gave way to more efficient LEDs, Big Law is falling behind modern business trends that produce better results for clients at a fraction of the cost that was the norm for over 100 years.
The old model of providing legal services in Big Law is to require the lawyers and staff to bill a minimum number of hours per week. Each Big Law employee is required to bill from 25-45 hours per week against client accounts or risk being fired. In many Big Law offices lunches are catered for the lawyers and staff because it’s worth it to the firm to cater $500 worth of lunch to have dozens of people tied to their desk billing clients that extra hour rather than going to lunch!
Here’s the dirty little secret about Big Law billing. For the employees to reach their billable goals each week, they must generate work. The client’s financial condition takes a back seat to the needs of the individual Big Law employee as well as to the Big Law firm as a whole. The Big Law worker bees create make-work that the client really doesn’t need to move the client’s case forward, but the lawyers and staff need to do it to keep their jobs.
For example, I had a client hire my firm when his Big Law firm billed him over $60,000.00 for six weeks of “work” on his case. During that six weeks, there was exactly one minor pleading filed with the court by his Big Law firm, not one hearing was held, and there was precisely zero movement in his case as a result of the pleading. I am not at all sure what the client’s sixty grand bought him with that law firm, but my client is on the hook for over $60,000.00 with them anyway. By the way, I eventually finished his complicated case, saving him several hundred thousand dollars of retirement, and winning him an additional $60,000.00 or so of property from the marital estate. I did more for the client than his Big Law firm ever did, and I did it for a fraction of the cost because my firm does not use the old Big Law model of billing.
Youngblood Law, PLLC, operates using modern business fundamentals. We run a lean firm based on efficiency and focus on the client, both now and in the future. The singular goal of Youngblood Law is to put our clients in the best possible situation when their case is over. For my firm, that means we never do make-work. We never generate unnecessary work just to bill the client. We never create unnecessary conflict in the client’s matter, because conflict manifests itself in additional pleadings and hearings thus increasing cost to the client. We only do work for the client that moves the client’s case forward. Simply put, I believe the old model of Big Law billing is unethical because it is focused on the needs of the firm, not the client.
One thing to look for when choosing a lawyer for your legal matter is the value of the work performed. Just because a firm has a big high rise building and bills more than other firms, does not mean the work produced for the client is better than smaller firms could have produced. Big Law firms still send their junior associates to court for hearings. Big Law firms still push the work done for a client down to the lowest skilled person capable of producing the product. So the Big Law firm that bills clients as much as it can does not necessarily produce a product better than a smaller firm can produce. That’s the difference between price and value. Consider what you want out of your lawyer. Do you want the bragging rights of using the most expensive firm around, or do you choose the value offered by a smaller firm that runs on systems developed in this century?
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas family law firm focusing on helping people get through the divorce process so they can get on with the rest of their lives. This essay is intended for educational use only, and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information contact us at 817-601-5345, find us on the web at www.youngblood-law.com, or on your mobile device, open your browser and type in lawfw.biz and press Go. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/youngbloodlawPLLC/