February 2008 Archives

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!