Bluegrass Business Law

December 21, 2006

Victims’ Rights Groups!?

Filed under: Personal Injury — G.A. Napier @ 7:07 pm

I am anxious to hear from anyone with first hand knowledge of this phenomenon.  There are a number of victims’ rights groups set up that contact the victims and families of victims immediately (within days) of a major catastrophe, such as Flight 5191, offering “help”.  Some of these groups are likely legitimate and concerned.  Others have a less benign purpose in mind.

Those non-benevolent groups receive considerable funding from large plaintiff attorney firms and were most likely caused to be created by those firms.  The firms call this funding “charitable donations” but is actually an unethical form of fee sharing.  The groups “help” to the victim or family is to refer them to their sponsor firm for representation and tell them they need to protect their rights quickly.  Often, the firm is in a different state.  Often these firms expect fees of 40 to 45% (excessive in my opinion) of any recovery before expenses are taken out.  They then contract with a local attorney in the state of the catastrophe and give them a slice of that fee (why not cut out the middle man?).

So, if you are contacted by a victims’ rights group and they quickly refer you to an attorney or firm, please ask them some questions.  Ask if the firm they are referring you too is out of state, and if so, are they aware of a good in state attorney.  Ask them if the firm they are referring you to regularly donates to their group and how much.  Beware if they cannot or will not answer either of those queries. 

Victims’ Rights Groups!?

Filed under: Personal Injury,Solo & Small Firm — G.A. Napier @ 7:07 pm

I am anxious to hear from anyone with first hand knowledge of this phenomenon.  There are a number of victims’ rights groups set up that contact the victims and families of victims immediately (within days) of a major catastrophe, such as Flight 5191, offering “help”.  Some of these groups are likely legitimate and concerned.  Others have a less benign purpose in mind.

Those non-benevolent groups receive considerable funding from large plaintiff attorney firms and were most likely caused to be created by those firms.  The firms call this funding “charitable donations” but is actually an unethical form of fee sharing.  The groups “help” to the victim or family is to refer them to their sponsor firm for representation and tell them they need to protect their rights quickly.  Often, the firm is in a different state.  Often these firms expect fees of 40 to 45% (excessive in my opinion) of any recovery before expenses are taken out.  They then contract with a local attorney in the state of the catastrophe and give them a slice of that fee (why not cut out the middle man?).

So, if you are contacted by a victims’ rights group and they quickly refer you to an attorney or firm, please ask them some questions.  Ask if the firm they are referring you too is out of state, and if so, are they aware of a good in state attorney.  Ask them if the firm they are referring you to regularly donates to their group and how much.  Beware if they cannot or will not answer either of those queries. 

December 11, 2006

Small Firm – Big Value

Filed under: Business,Solo & Small Firm — G.A. Napier @ 2:26 pm

Here is a quote from a great post on MyShingle.com by Carolyn Elefant about the value one gets from a solo or small firm:

“Say you decide to charge a flat fee of $18,000 for an appeal that you predict will take you 40 hours to research, brief and argue at your most efficient.  That’s around $450 an hour, $360 even if you take 10 hours more than planned.  Moreover, a $18k appeal is a pretty good deal for a company.   Now, let’s take that same appeal to the big
Boston law firm.  Figure 30 hours for the 5th year associate to reseach and draft the brief ($14,550 at $485/hr), with 15 hours research and proofing assistance from the first year ($4125 at $275/hr).  But then once the briefs have been filed, we can assume that an upper level partner will argue the case, so he or she will need at least a conservative 8 hours of review and prep at $600/hour.  Suddenly, that appeal is up to $23,475, $5k above what you’ve offered, not to mention better value, since when you argue the case, you’ll have the benefit of having done the research yourself.”

I looked up the list that she references earlier in the post from Law.com and found a large Cincinnati firm.  This is the closest to Lexington, Kentucky that I could find:

Dinsmore & Shohl (306) (
Cincinnati)
1st $160 5th $200
2d $170 6th $210
3d $180 7th $215
4th $190 8th $225

Interesting. 

December 1, 2006

An Ounce of Prevention . . .

Filed under: Business,Construction Law,Real Estate Law — G.A. Napier @ 11:22 am

Two situations I encountered this past week really drove home how valuable it is to obtain a little professional advice before agreeing to something. For privacy reasons I can only say that both of them signed away something very valuable without realizing it. I am sure that if someone had suggested to either of them that they should consult an attorney first, their first thought would have been that the expense was too great for something that seemed so simple. That is what most people would think. It is something I would have thought too prior to going to law school. Now, though, the cost to each one has grown exponentially because they are either paying to clean up the mess or have lost a right forever. If I can convince just one person out there that it is cost effective to get legal advice on the front end of a deal, then I will be content. This is especially true if you can locate a reputable solo practitioner or small firm. There are a few reasons for this. First, a solo practitioner will personally look over your circumstances rather than relegating down stream to a new associate or law student that is clerking for the firm. Second, most solo practitioners and small firms have lower hourly fees because of their lower overhead. Lastly, the solo’s and small firms are interested in long term business, even the small stuff, so they are more likely to give your issue the attention it deserves. Even if they do not have the answers when you first talk to them, they have the know how to get those answers. Seriously – most solo’s and small firm attorneys can look over a release form, contract, or custody papers in half an hour. In Kentucky, that would be anywhere from $75 to $100 dollars for routine issues (perhaps more for specialized issues). That is far better than having to pay for many, many hours of legal help in trying to fix a matter once it has gone sour. I want to doubly emphasize this if you are an individual and the other party to the contract is a corporation such as an insurance company. They have already spent thousands and thousands of dollars to lawyers with the end resulting being release forms and contracts that give them maximum protection and you minimum wiggle room. So, spend a little on the front end and save a lot in the long run.

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