Sunday, February 26, 2006

Justifying legal fees

I was looking over my papers, and I found this where Judge Kelly lectured me on hiring a lawyer. He had just ordered me to pay $20,000 in attorney fees for Miss Jennifer Gray.
THE COURT: But I just encourage the two of you to try and put this money to your children rather than to the cost of litigation. But I can only encourage you. I can't go any further.

MR. AngryDad: well, yes, I hope so. From my point of view I see as long as I'm paying for her lawyer, this is going to go on forever.

THE COURT: Well, you might find it cost effective to hire your own counsel. If you don't have good skills let's say dealing with Miss Gray, your attorney might, you know. But that's your call. I tell a lot of couples that it is cost effective to get professionals involved on both sides because they can go right to the heart of the issue. They know what the law is. They know what the local tradition is on various issues, how things are going to resolve. Just like if you had a D.U.I., drunk driving arrest, you can defend yourself and do all the legal research. But you don't have the benefit of experience. An attorney can read that police report and tell you in five minutes what's going to happen on your case although it could be months away from resolution. But they just know from reviewing that, the data. This is a skill that you develop over time. I used to as a prosecutor could tell if I was going to get a conviction just from the jury panel came in, not even when I had my 12 people. Just looking around behind me I could I have a sense of where my case was going. But this comes from years of guessing wrong at times, and over time you get that experience. And it's – attorneys aren't cheap but on the other hand, they can do in ten minutes what it might take a private person a couple of months to do just because they have that experience they bring to bear. Any event ...

MR. AngryDad: Yeah, I understand that but major issue here that has been custody and custody is kind of not really a legal issue. It's your call based on, you know, whatever you think the best interests are and I could have hired lawyers. I really don't think it would have made a significant amount of difference on the custody issue.

THE COURT: custody issues, I think you're right. When you start getting into the financial stuff, there's a lot of law involved. There's a lot of number crunching. You can certainly help an attorney in terms of number crunching, but they can swiftly put together an equitable dissolution. And they've got the software. They've got everything to just plug in the numbers. That's an option anyway and I would encourage that. I'd like to see – the two of you are very both gifted, bright people. I’d rather you spent your energy in more productive areas. [May 13, 2005 transcript, p.25-26]
This was after Miss Gray burned $40,000 in legal fees in an attempt to win sole legal custody. So Judge Kelly was essentially acknowledging that her work was a big waste of money, but ordered me to pay half so that she could stay on the case and do some "number crunching".

Miss Gray stayed on the case a few more months, but she never did any number crunching. Any moron can plug numbers into a computer program. We don't need to pay $40k legal fees to plug numbers into a computer program.

No comments: