Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lazy Lawyers

A lawyer’s life is full of deadlines. Judges require pleadings and motions to be filed at specific times, states enact statutes of limitations to cut off long-term liability, and opposing counsel set hard deadlines for conducting negotiations. It’s a hectic life for sure, but meeting these deadlines is the only way to serve our clients with competence and respect. As the Connecticut Practice Book (a.k.a. the “Lawyer’s Bible”) notes: “Dilatory practices bring the administration of justice into disrepute.” We couldn’t agree more.

But what happens when a lazy lawyer misses a deadline?

The truth is that late filings or missed deadlines can have drastic effects on not only the cost of your legal service but potentially on the viability of your case. If a lazy lawyer waits until the last minute to file a motion with the court the quality could suffer. What if the lazy lawyer neglected to file the proper paperwork to renew your business license? What if he forgot to file a claim until after the statute of limitations had run? What if he didn’t have you in to execute your will in a timely manner? In such instances, your livelihood, your expectations, or your ability to gain adequate compensation for your injuries may be irreparably harmed.

If you suspect that you’ve been misrepresented or duped by a lazy lawyer, give us a call. We’ll look into the issue and make sure that your interests are adequately—and promptly— represented.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Alternative Fee Arrangements Gaining Steam

It’s no surprise that one of the biggest concerns in the lawyer-client relationship involves fees. After all, even the most clear-cut fee agreements can be difficult to swallow—for the client as well as the lawyer. Well, as we’re fond of saying around the office, “Times have changed. We’ve changed with the times.”

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), the trying economic environment of the last few years has given rise to a change in the structure of legal fee agreements. Gone are the days of the rigid hourly billing method, the modern trend points towards alternative fee arrangements that provide flexibility for both lawyer and client. In fact, the ABA has reported that in a recent survey regarding alternative fee arrangements, “Of the 218 law firm respondents, only one reported that their firm does not employ alternatives to the hourly billing rate model other than discounting.” An A For Alternatives, ABA Journal, vol. 98, Nov. 2012.

The rise of alternative fee agreements has proven to be a boon to the industry. While many legal services are still best served through hourly billing, alternative fee arrangements expand the range of services that a firm can offer. Here at Stanger & Arnold, we recognize that certain situations call for alternative solutions. Contact our office if you’d like to learn more about our alternative fee arrangements.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Model Rules for Lawyer Discipline Enforcement Currently Under Review

You may know that the American  Bar Association (ABA) promulgates the Model Rules of Professional Conduct but did you know that the ABA also distributes the Model Rules for Lawyer Discipline Enforcement? Where the former are the basis for individual state-based ethical standards, the latter form the basis for the state-based procedures for investigating and prosecuting the complaints against lawyers who are alleged to have violated the ethical standards. So why are we telling you this? Because this review will likely have a significant impact on the legal malpractice landscape of the future. By all accounts, the ABA is going to set a hard line on the enforcement of these ethical standards. Furthermore, the ABA is likely to explore mechanisms to address attorney discipline in the current tech-savvy climate. We’ll be watching for further developments on this topic and so should you.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Watch Out For Quantum Meruit Claims

If you’ve been the victim of legal malpractice you may want to familiarize yourself with the concept of “Quantum Meruit.” Translated from Latin, Quantum Meruit means, “As much as is deserved.” In the legal world, this is an equitable concept applied by courts to compensate a party in the absence of a legally enforceable contract. But why is it important in the context of legal malpractice? It’s important because even if you fire your lawyer because they are doing a poor job, the lawyer may be able to use the doctrine of Quantum Meruit to pursue a claim against you for services provided. This is true even if the attorney was hired on a strict contingency basis, as is generally the situation in a personal injury or tort case. If you’ve recently fired your attorney because of their negligent representation you may want to check your fee agreement for any language regarding “services rendered” or Quantum Meruit. Better yet, give us a call and we’ll do the dirty work for you.