We just returned from a five day vacation on the shoreline of Lake Michigan and the Crystal River at a place called the Homestead. The next day, my wife and three boys headed north to Marquette to visit my wife’s sister in law and the beloved cousins. I returned home last night to an empty house. The neighbors quickly found me and invited me to dinner. Their son in law was in from California where he works in the upper reaches of the iPod project and is a phenomenal cook. We enjoyed the most wonderful home made Chinese meal. It included home made wantons in both the soup and the chocolate desert.
I showed them my Greatest American Lawyer website over coffee. That prompted a dinner discussion about their experience with lawyers. I learned that if you invite people to talk, they love to rag on attorneys. These people were actually competing to tell stories about negative experiences with their own attorneys. There was a bill that one of them had received from their attorney for correcting a lien document that he was told not to draft and file. The attorney called my neighbor apologizing for the mistake and failure to follow directions. Obviously, the lien was clouding title. Incredibly, the attorney then billed my neighbor to correct the attorney's admitted mistake, in addition to the phone call necessitated by his mistake.
Another dinner guest a story of being called by their attorney to see if there was any more legal work to be done and then billing the client for that call.
There are lots of stories about lawyers pandering for hourly fees. There was one lawyer who told my neighbor “you can have as much justice here as you can afford.”
I think that I will make these discussions part of my routine. What better way to learn how to be a better lawyer than to open the door to real experiences by real people with their attorneys.