Respect: the rusty sword of the judicial system Part II
By DS Gands
Aug 14, 2003
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In the final step of this process, you have to consider the financial part of this game.  Donít ever rely upon price quotes from staff of a law office.  To begin with, they are not supposed to discuss them.  Get your fee rates or contract information directly from the attorney.  If the attorney agrees to accept your case for representation, be certain that you complete the contract process.  You should have determined your budget for this case before you began, and adjusted according to your findings.

Make sure that your attorney will be sending you detailed, itemized billing statements, what the incremental portions are for the fees, what you will be charged for, and when you can expect to see the bills. 

Monthly billings are standard, and that portion of this factor is a reasonable expectation by any client.  Staying current on what is being done, and what the financial expectations are of you, can be vital to the success of this effort.    Reasonable fees should always be the expectation.  What one attorney might do for $10K, another might do just as well or better for two.   If you are paying for image, thatís one thing.  The most expensive attorney may not always the Ďbestí lawyer for your case.

Clients often believe that by paying an attorney, they own him or her, and the entire staff of that office.  It just ainít so.  They may buy a degree of the schedule, but they arenít the coach.  That frustrates many attorney-client relationships, and that spells trouble for any participant in the process.

The other side of that coin is the ethics code.  Attorneys are bound by creed to give the best possible representation to their clients.  It just so happens that is an interpretative issue, and what an attorney interprets it to be and what the client demands may cause inter-team morale problems and tension.  Itís just not good for the game.  Listen to your attorney, and be sure you understand what you are being told.  Ask questions, and learn what is expected of you and the game plan.  Donít call the attorneyís office everyday, unless you are told to do so or there is a true emergency.  Itís expensive. 

Write your questions and concerns down, present a copy at your next visit, or call every week or two, just to stay current.  Make sure that your attorneyís office knows from the start that you want to be copied on every filing, service, or correspondence regarding the case.  This is an excellent way for you to gauge status of the case, and the performance of your team.  An attorney should know whether their schedule can accommodate the need for your case, and so should you.

You should take a look at the courts, too.  It has been alleged by some that courts are swayed by the reputations and fees charged by some attorneys.  It would be well advised to know the court.  Research political affiliations and the histories of the courts of jurisdiction that may hear your case.  Knowing about a courtroom and its history can be a vital tool in selecting an attorney and preparing for the trial.  However, be warned.  Thereís no room in this process for pernicious persiflage, of any kind. 

Judges are often ridiculed and belittled by sore losers, whether they are attorneys or parties.  Granted, I am sure, just like in every other industry, there are a few that could use a swift kick in the pants, from time to time, rest assured that the ĎNFLí has taken care of that by creating the little known watchful eyes of an organization dedicated to enforcement of judicial conduct rules.  Some may even think that there are judges who donít pay attention, or donít know what is going on, but I can almost guarantee that judges know everything, and the longer they have been on the bench, the less likely it is that anyone will get away with anything Ė in or out of court.  If you choose to disrespect the law, the court, or anyone in it, you will most certainly regret it.  I donít care what uniform you are wearing, or whom you think you know.  Arrogance and disrespect before a judge are pure folly.

At some point, you should have written down what your expectations are from this suit.  If they seem unreasonable to you at any point, they probably will to an attorney, a judge, and a jury.  Work on those perspectives and learn to be reasonable as you gather knowledge along the way.  This will help you focus, and it will give you objectivity about your case.  Discuss these considerations with your attorney, and be sure that you understand the ramifications and risks of any facet of the prospectus.  Continually update your expectations overview, and you will find that you become comfortable and confident about this venture as the process matures.  Knowledge is powerful, but if you donít understand it, it isnít worth spit.

It is time.  The trial is set.  You are ready for the game.  Suit up in your crisp, clean uniform, take the field with your team, and remember to show respect.  Thereís little formality in most courtrooms these days, and there arenít many setting an example.  But, you should think, while you are sitting there just before the judge comes in, no matter how this goes in the end, if you have the proper pleadings, if you have your evidence to present, your witnesses are credible, you have selected the best possible counsel you could find, know the costs Ė win or lose - and been a team player in the pre-game requirements Ė you have come to this event well prepared.  Hundreds of years have gone into making our system what it is today.  Many fine minds have labored to give us the very best tools with which to pursue due process of law. 

You want to walk away knowing that you did your best and did it all with dignity and integrity?

Respect the system and the people that serve it.  The real win is in how you play the game.

Take a deep breath.  Whether the bailiff verbalizes the command or not, when that judge appears, it should ring in your ears - ĎAll rise!í Ė and with pride, honor, and dignity, be the first one on your feet. 

You have just drawn the figurative sword of respect and justice and marked a line in the sand.

The very first ingredient in any good recipe for a football game or a lawsuit is self-respect.  As an individual player, thatís the one and only thing in all of this that you have complete control over.

With it, you never cross the line, and you are a winner in the eyes of many - every time.

Copyright 2003 by DS Gands, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

D.S. Gands is a freelance writer living in North Texas.  The opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect the perspectives of this publication.  If you would like to see this or other articles by D.S. Gands appear in your favorite publication, ask the editor to contact  regarding available reprint or syndication rights.