May 11, 2008

Giving new meaning to "in-house"

house.jpgHow much did a gambling addicted in-house attorney siphon from his employer, a New Jersey home builder? $1.37 million. How did he do it? The attorney canceled contracts for real estate purchases, recovered deposits from the escrow companies, and then gambled away the funds. That wasn't the only house-related damage from his gambling addiction. He refinanced his home in 2007 without telling his wife (although title to the home was in her name). He'll be in the Big House for the next seven years. Maybe he should have argued he was on Mirapex? Or at least tried this strategy.

April 20, 2008

How much would Jesus pay?

jesus.jpgHow much did the city of Slidell, Louisiana have to pay after losing a lawsuit about posting Jesus' portrait in the court house? $1, plus the ACLU attorney's fees. Slidell's Mayor Ben Morris didn't expect the legal fees to amount to much. He labeled the ACLU the "American Taliban," and added, "The ACLU doesn't usually have attorney fees." One local resident, responded to a local news story by pointing out that there was no proof that the individual in the portrait was actually Jesus, and that by banning the single portrait, the government was officially recognizing that image as Jesus -- therefore making it a "win for all Christians." After the ACLU filed suit, city officials added 15 additional portraits of historic and religious law-givers such as Confucius, Hammurabi, Moses, Charlemagne, Sir William Blackstone and Judge Judy (strike that). This new exhibit -- ruled not to violate constitutional standards -- was part of a strategy suggested by the organization providing the city's defense, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF).

April 14, 2008

Trump Towers; Lawyer Cowers - Not

trump2.gifHow much is Donald Trump suing his (former?) New York law firm for? $3 million. The Donald claims that the firm, Morrison Cohen, did unnecessary work in order to generate inflated bills. The dispute arose out of a lawsuit Trump brought against a contractor who worked on Trump National Golf Course. Morrison Cohen partner Y. David Scharf represented Trump in the lawsuit and won $2 million in damages and $1.3 million in attorney fees. The Donald reportedly paid $1 million in fees to the firm, which is now seeking an additional $470K in unpaid fees from the Great Comb-Over. Trump, who claims to have a "Ph.D. in legal fees," downplayed Scharf's victory in court, claiming, "We won the case because I'm a great witness."

Has The Donald tangled with his lawyers before? Former Morrison Cohen co-founder, Robert S. Cohen, who left to start his own firm in 2003, represented Ivana Trump in her attempt to overturn a prenup with Trump. Trump won that one.

What other Trump litigation is ongoing? DT's being sued for trademark infringement (for $4 billion) and age discrimination (by an Apprentice reject); and he's suing Palm Beach (over a flagpole) and Rosie O'Donnell over ... oh, whatever.

April 10, 2008

A lawyer walks into a bar ...


What's the best documentary on being a lawyer in the 21st Century? This one. Check out the trailer.

April 8, 2008

If we could only outsource legal self-help books, too...

india.jpgHow much did DuPont save last year by outsourcing legal work to Mumbai? Approximately $500K. Over 29,000 U.S. legal jobs have already been "offshored" to similar Indian outposts, and that number is expected to increase to 79,000 by 2015. The loss in revenue for U.S. lawyers is estimated at $4.3 billion (though nobody's calculated the savings to clients).

Hey, come to think of it ... why not just create an affiliate law office on the subcontinent? That's what GE, America's fifth-largest corporation did, sending an annual $3 million in legal work overseas. How long before government work is outsourced, too? Wait ... it already is.

(...And if GW is really in favor of outsourcing, why doesn't he step up for the greatest sacrifice?)

March 3, 2008

Enron redux: the hits keep on coming

michael-clayton-poster.jpgWhat do George Clooney and Kenneth Lay have in common? Nothing really... well, except for the fact that lawyers for defrauded Enron investors played a clip from George's movie "Michael Clayton" at their hearing requesting attorney fees. How much were the attorneys requesting in fees? A record $700 million. What percentage is that of the total settlement earned for investors? 9.5%. What happened to the founder of the firm seeking these record fees? He recently pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme in a different case (but will pull in millions from the Enron case). What did the self-effacing lawyer for the plaintiffs argue at the fee hearing? "This is an extraordinary case and we did an extraordinary job." When can we see the real story of Enron's collapse in a film drama? Soon to come with Leo in the lead.

February 27, 2008

Highest court meets lowest billable rate

jail.jpgHow much does Michael Ray charge fellow South Carolina inmates for preparing legal papers? $0.29 per hour. Does Ray's work constitute the unauthorized practice of law (UPL)? We'll find out. Ray is being investigated by the South Carolina Attorney General. Of the hundreds of jailhouse lawyers, why did Ray become the target of a UPL charge? It might have been because Ray's legal arguments on behalf of one inmate led to a Supreme Court hearing next month. What percentage of the cases submitted to the Supreme Court are chosen by the justices for a hearing? Less than 1%.

February 22, 2008

And your reserve price?

auctionbid.jpgWhat's the average legal fee for handling a misdemeanor in Jackson County, Michigan? It used to be $250, but that was before the county auctioned off its public defender obligations to bidding lawyers. So far the bids have ranged from $165 to $220 per case. How much does the county expect to save with its new bidding system? Estimates have the savings pegged at $20,000 per year. What types of misdemeanors are we talking about? Some drunk driving, simple drug possession, various traffic violations. Possible reasons for getting drunk or taking drugs in Jackson County? Unemployment is near 7.9 percent and last year the county had 1,227 house foreclosures.

February 20, 2008

Who does the CIA turn to for protection?

cia.jpgWho pays the legal fees when a CIA official is investigated for destruction of documents? Most likely, it's Wright & Co., a small company that insures CIA, FBI, DEA and other federal employees for legal hazards arising from their work. How many federal employees did Wright & Co. insure before 9/11? 17,000. And how many today? 32,000. Why the jump? Lawsuits and investigations over prisoner detainments and related issues. How much coverage does a typical policy provide? According to the New York Times, up to $200,000 in legal fees for administrative matters like investigations by Congress, an additional $100,000 is available for legal fees in criminal investigations, and up to $1 million in damages in a civil suit. How much does a standard policy cost? About $300 a year and the government pays half the cost for managers.

Bonus question: How can you explain the CIA to your kids? Send them to the CIA Kids' Page, of course.

February 11, 2008

No Polish jokes, please

poland.gifHow much did the Polish government propose as a cap for attorneys fees? 70 Euros per hour ($101.50). The government proposed legislation in 2007, delayed it until after elections and then ditched it under the new prime minister.
Who was the biggest opponent of the Polish law?
British law firms who operate in Poland.
Bonus Polish law question: How many weeks of paid maternity leave does Polish law provide to a mother of twins?
28 weeks (18 weeks for a single first newborn).

February 8, 2008

Is it anything like cow-tipping?

cow.jpgHow much did an attorney earn in his class action suit alleging that Sears' stoves had a tendency to tip over? $17 million. How many stoves actually tipped over? None. The attorney only alleged that if you put too much weight on a stove, it could tip over. What did Sears stove owners get from the lawsuit? If they signed on for the settlement, a stove owner could get a $100 coupon towards installation of an anti-tip bracket. How much did Sears pay to attorneys who brought a lawsuit over wheel-alignment pricing? $950,000. How much did the company pay to customers over the lawsuit? $2,402. Or as the judge in the case put it, "Doing the math in this case is easy. For each class member who received a $10 check or $4 coupon, plaintiffs' counsel received just shy of $3,000." Bonus Question: Is cow-tipping possible?

February 6, 2008

IANAL... but my clients think I am

greencard.jpgHow much can a fake lawyer earn by offering to sell green card extensions to immigrants? $129,000. That's how much a con man earned from 12 clients who believed the non-lawyer could help them avoid deportation. (Note: As some readers know, this blog tracks fees charged by real attorneys as well as fake attorneys.)

What sort of shtick did the non-lawyer use to entice his clients? He had a lavish office in L.A. and told people he used to be a judge. How much did the fake lawyer make by running a fake traffic school? $8,000. And how much did he get by stealing the identity of one of his traffic school customers? $80,000. How many counts of felony is the non-lawyer charged with? 31. Do fake lawyers always have to do jail time? Not necessarily.

February 4, 2008

Open up those golden gates...

streets.jpgHow much did the City of San Francisco have to pay in attorney fees to oust a city supervisor accused of bribery? $300,000. How much money was at stake in the supervisor's alleged shakedowns? $84,000. What reason did the supervisor give for deciding to step down and accept the city's settlement offer? His legal fees had become "overwhelming." Bonus question: why is Rice-A-Roni "the San Francisco treat?" Duh!

January 30, 2008

Maybe they should call it "Con Bono"

sheriff.jpgHow much is the former sheriff of Orange County (charged with accepting cash, favors, and gifts) paying for his legal defense? $0. The mega firm of Jones Day is handling the case pro bono (although the ex-Sheriff will pay legal fees for the brief period before he resigned from office). How much does the Sheriff earn annually in retirement pay? $200K.

How much did Former Illinois governor George Ryan pay his lawyers at Winston & Strawn for defending charges of racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, and tax fraud? $0. The firm handled it pro bono. How much did the defense cost? $20 million. Do you have to pay tax on pro bono efforts done on your behalf? Alas, that's a murky legal issue.

January 28, 2008

So, how much does it cost to read Penthouse?


How much did a North Carolina attorney have to pay after being held in contempt of court for reading Maxim in court? $300.

What happened to the attorney's copy of the magazine? It was confiscated and labeled as Exhibit A in his contempt case.

What was the attorney's defense? He argued that Maxim was not pornography, and anyway, it was his girlfriend's subscription.