Best Client Call of the Week

Frustrated woman making a phone callMy websites all have contact forms, so that prospective clients can email me a question. The forms require that the prospective client provide an email address and/or a telephone number. How else would I contact them?

So, I received an email from a visitor to one of my websites (let’s call her Jane), and I promptly responded.

The next day, I received another email from the website from Jane, asking the same questions again. I responded again, apologizing that she had not received my earlier response.

On day three I received two emails from Jane, and they made clear that Jane was not pleased that I was ignoring her emails. Jane had never provided her telephone number, so I had no means to contact her other than through the email address she was providing each time. I was sure my email was probably ending up in her spam filter for whatever reason, but I responded each time.

Finally Jane called, and she was hopping mad that she had written me so many times and received no response. I explained that I had responded to every one of her emails, and read back her email address.

“Oh, that’s a fake email address. I always use that when I fill out contact forms. I don’t want to get spammed,” she said.

Best Client Call of the Week

angry callerA gentleman called about a case, wherein the amount in controversy was about $1,500 – a clear candidate for small claims court.

“Well, this isn't a case I would be able to represent you on because it wouldn't make economic sense to hire me for a $1,500 case, but I’m happy to give you my thoughts on how you could pursue this in small claims court,” I said.

We often get calls about cases that are best handled in small claims court, so I've created a web page that walks callers through the process of suing in that court. When I get these types of calls I’ll take a few minutes to give the caller some tips on how to calculate the damages and what evidence to present, and then I send them to the web page.

This caller was taking advantage of my kind nature, asking very specific questions about how “I” was going to handle the case; which witnesses I would call, which documents I would use. In each instance, I told him that “I” wasn't going to handle the case, because the legal fees would far exceed the amount he was seeking to recover. In all, during the course of the conversation, I told him about six times that it would not be economically feasible to hire me to represent him given the amount in controversy.

He grew a bit curt when I repeated the refrain for the sixth time that I would not handle the case.

“Why do you keep saying that? Why wouldn't it make economic sense?”, he asked.

“Because this is a case that should be pursued in small claims court, and individuals cannot be represented by an attorney in small claims court. For me to represent you, I’d have to file a full-blown action in the Superior Court, with written discovery, depositions, possible motions, etcetera,” I responded. “You avoid all that in small claims court. Also, there is no basis to recovery your attorney fees, so you'd be spending far more on me that you would be seeking to recover. It wouldn't make sense to spend all that money on legal representation for $1,500!”

“But what if I wanted you to represent me? What would it cost?”

Well, I’m $495 an hour, and I require a $10,000 deposit to start.”

“Why the f**k would I pay you $10,000 to get $1,500! Are you out of your f**king mind?”

Click.

Lawyer App of the Month – Jotbox

Jotbox app

It always seems to happen in the shower.

I come up with a brilliant strategy for one of my cases or remember something that needs to be calendared. (I read once that there is actually some scientific basis for epiphanies in the shower, having to do with ions or something.) I need to get the idea down as quickly as possible before the thought is lost, and I need to make sure I will see whatever reminder I create.

I always have my phone with me (well, not actually in the shower), so I could create a reminder or enter the idea into Evernote, but that assumes I will hear the reminder tone or remember to look at Evernote before the deadline occurs.

Enter Jotbox. I may not check my voice mail or see all the text messages that come to me, but I am always good about checking my email. With Jotbox, I just dictate a quick message on my iPhone, and with a single click the typed message goes off to my email. I also have the options to scribble a message on the screen, or even snap a photo (a picture of an empty shampoo bottle, perhaps, to remind me to buy more).

When I arrive at the office and check my email, I can then deal appropriately with all the reminders.

Incidentally, if you want, you can use your Evernote email address. Instead of showing up in your email, they will show up in Evernote.

I found Jotbox while checking out a similar program called MeMail. The latter program does not have all the same features, and is $2.99, whereas Jotbox is just 99 cents.

Get a FREE Copy of the #1 Law Firm Marketing Book on Amazon

I love e-books, and manage to go through four or five per week, mostly nonfiction. How do I go through so many books in a week? As I explain in more detail here, I use my Kindle’s text-to-speech function, cranked up to two or three times the normal speed (no, there is no chipmunk quality), and listen to books whenever I am commuting, showering, dressing, etc.

The truth is, especially when you read multiple books on the same topic, even a really good book may offer only ten or twenty really good, new to you takeaways. As I’m listening to an e-book at warp speed, I can easily absorb the broad concepts, and if a really good takeaway pops up, I can slow it down and repeat, or have Siri send whatever I want to remember to Evernote.

(Did you know you can have Siri on your iPhone add notes to your Evernote account? Here’s how. Of course you can dictate directly into Evernote, but the Siri method allows you to do it hands free. No distracted driving for you! The next version of iOS will make this even better, because Siri will obey your commands without you even having to push that one button to get her attention. And if you've seen that episode of The Big Bang Theory, you know that Siri is a real woman answering your questions in real time.)

But feeding my brain is not without cost. Even though we live in wonderful times where e-books can be had for a fraction of the price of their printed brethren, going through four or five books per week can still be a costly addiction. Continue reading

How To Get Back a Closed Tab

I might be the only one who does this, but I was very excited to learn this shortcut.

When using Chrome (this also works for Internet Explorer and Firefox), I soon accumulate so many tabs across the top of the browser that I can't tell what's what. I then start closing tabs and occasionally realize that I just closed the tab with the case I found after a long search session. To bring back a closed tab, just hit Ctrl-Shift-T and voilà, it's back.

Best Client Call of the Week

Not the one in question, but can you name the country this flag represents?

A “potential client” called this morning to discuss the case she has going in a foreign country. In order not to offend any of the residents of that country by repeating what she said, I won’t identify the country except to say that it is a small, non-English speaking country that I had to run through Wikipedia to confirm that it is in fact a real country.

Yak

She called to ask a question about a very specific procedural issue in her case. Picture getting a call from someone in Transnistria, asking you the deadline for opposing an application for a writ of attainment, and whether the opposition can be served by yak. That was the nature and specificity of the procedural question.

As I always do when I get a call from someone about a case that has nothing to do with California, I asked why she called me.

“Because all the attorneys are crooks here, and you can’t trust anything they say”, she said.

So the next time you hear someone say something disparaging about attorneys, just remember that our reputation is far better than that of the attorneys in this unidentified country.

Don’t Be That Attorney — Misstating Record on Appeal

Misstated RecordAs reported elsewhere, we received a very satisfying verdict of more than $1.5 million resulting from a defamatory email sent by a defendant, concerning our client. The defendant did not go silently into the good night, and appealed the verdict, claiming that there was insufficient evidence to support an award of that size.

That's all fine and good, but in appealing the verdict, the defense attorney completely misstated the record. On an appeal based on insufficient evidence, the appellant is required to set forth all the evidence that would tend to support that verdict. Indeed, if the appellant fails to do so, the Court of Appeal can deem the issue waived.

I devoted a full two-thirds of my responsive brief on appeal just setting the record straight by pointing out all the misstatements made by defense counsel. Continue reading

You’re Not Alone — Everyone Gets Some Crazies

Crazy CallersI genuinely thought I was part of some long-term punking. I get so many calls from people wanting to hire me who use the same lines to try to get me to take the case.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard, “I have a slam-dunk case that is going to make some attorney wealthy, but I need an attorney who can understand this case and won't be intimidated by the other side.”

There's one guy out there — I have no idea how I ended up on his distribution list — who sends me weekly flyers like you might get from a real estate agent trying to sell you a business, but they are all for HIS own personal cases.  They are on impressive pre-printed forms, and the client just fills in the blanks.  They look something like this: Continue reading

Just How Scary Am I? — Wacky Big Firm Behavior

Oh, the wacky, wacky things big firms do.

My firm just took over a business litigation matter that has been going on for about eight months. It’s the usual nonsense where my client left a company and the company doesn't want him to compete, so it is claiming he took trade secrets. I've had probably 50 of these over the years, and never once has the strategy worked. They try to beat the client into the ground, and when it doesn't work, they slunk away. Shame on the attorneys who prosecute these cases.

But this one is getting entertaining very quickly. The Plaintiff company is represented by what appears to be a huge firm. I’d never heard of the firm before this action, but they list 30 offices on their letterhead, with offices all over the globe, and five here in California.

In typical fashion for some big firms, every time we've been to court, at least two attorneys have shown up from the other side. Continue reading