How Lawyers Cheat and Swindle Their Clients – Chapter 5 – Avoiding Common Problems

by EzekielDiet.com
Posted on Jan 17, 2016

EZ Diet Comment:  This is the 5th and final Chapter of the free eBook below. This is what you need to know if you’re ever sued, or decide to sue someone else. Unless more people recognize this problem and become conscious of the extent to which lawyers and the legal system manipulate the general public, the situation can only deteriorate further.

How Attorneys Cheat and Swindle ClientsCHAPTER FIVE

AVOIDING COMMON PROBLEMS

Different areas of law attract different kinds of attorneys. Different kinds of attorneys have different methods for overcharging and disrupting clients and their cases. This section offers information of the main areas of law and the particular problems relating to each area; what you should look out for and be aware of when you hire and work with a lawyer to resolve an issue pertaining to a specific area of law.

Bankruptcy Law

Massive changes in the structure of American industries forced millions of people to file for bankruptcy in the face of economic ruin. Although the most significant downsizing took place during the 1980s and early 1990s, bankruptcy, now a legal specialty, remains a serious consideration for many individuals and families who can no longer meet their expenses and debts.

Unfortunately, many bankruptcy lawyers create more problems for their clients. Bankruptcy was quickly represented as “the panacea for the financial problems of the beleaguered public”[1].

The first thing to bear in mind: liquidation bankruptcies are considered fairly routine. They also take relatively little time. For an attorney, processing liquidation bankruptcies can generate a very high financial return, so consult with an attorney or alternative financial adviser before you accept an attorney’s suggestion that you file for bankruptcy.

When you consider filing for bankruptcy, you need to be clear about the consequences. Attorneys will readily tell you several positives about filing.

They may tell you that bankruptcy will:

erase all your debts;

protect your property from creditors;

stop your ex-spouse from receiving alimony, child support, or properties divided in the divorce proceedings;

not affect your credit rating.

Unfortunately, these so-called outcomes of bankruptcies are myths. Bankruptcy has serious repercussions for your financial health. Although it will offer you a temporary stay and may allow you to sue creditors who ignore the “automatic stay”, bankruptcy does not automatically protect your property or cancel all of your debts.

The big problems with bankruptcy, about which most bankruptcy attorneys will not tell you, are:

Any bankruptcy will appear in your credit history for ten years, making it difficult to obtain credit or do anything that requires a good credit rating.

After filing for bankruptcy, it becomes almost impossible for you to ever secure a mortgage because you are labeled as a foreclosure risk.

Instead of going to a bankruptcy attorney you should investigate your other options. One of the first you should consider is the Consumer Credit Counseling Service or CCCS. The CCCS is a national, non-profit organization that provides debt counseling, budget planning, and debt consolidation for a small fee. They will give you, at the least, an independent opinion of whether or not you need to file for bankruptcy. Look in your local phone directory under “Credit and Debt Counseling” to find your local listings.

Debt counselors will also help you understand what type of bankruptcy filing may be appropriate for you. Don’t trust a lawyer to make this decision for you. There are three main types of bankruptcy:

Chapter 7: This is the most common form of bankruptcy, filed by the average consumer to overcome credit card charges and other debts. The repercussions are, however, very serious. Although you can overcome certain substantial debts, a long-term record of the bankruptcy will leave you with a very poor credit rating. You may not be able to purchase a home or a car. You may also find it difficult to rent properties or obtain approval for other amenities that are awarded for average to good credit ratings.

Chapter 13: This type of bankruptcy allows you to work on a plan to pay off your creditors over a set period of time. You can file under this chapter if you have unsecured debts of under $100,000 and secured debts of under $350,000. This chapter does, however, depend upon a judge approving your debt repayment plan; if the plan is not approved, your bankruptcy filing may be converted to a Chapter 7 and you then are at risk to lose property in liquidation.

Chapter 11: The most complicated form of bankruptcy, Chapter 11 is generally reserved for business people or for people who have assets outside of the limits imposed by Chapter 13. Because of its complexity, a Chapter 11 filing should always be undertaken with the assistance of an experienced and competent bankruptcy attorney.

Before you go about looking for an attorney, consult with debt counselors to determine whether bankruptcy filing is right for you and what type of filing you should undertake. Then consider your other options: could you file for bankruptcy yourself (with the help of do-it-yourself guides and resources)? Could you use a paralegal to do the work and save yourself the attorney fees?

If you decide that you need an attorney, you need to watch out for a number of types.

Avoid like the plague:

Attorneys who have ever been disciplined by the bar or put on probation.

Attorneys who actively solicit your business.

Any lawyer who wants you to sign over a second trust deed on your home to secure his legal fees.

Any attorney who is not upfront about their fees, stating explicitly, in writing, what they will do for the fee they quote to you and what extras are not included and will be additional costs.

Criminal Law

To emphasis the importance of finding a capable attorney to represent you in criminal cases, it’s worth quoting Dudley Gray’s key passage on the issue in How Not To Get Screwed By Your Attorney. Drawing from experience, he states that “thousands of people go to jail every year because their criminal attorneys were inept, lazy, or downright stupid.”

The importance of having a competent criminal attorney in your corner from the outset of your case is even greater if you’re innocent. As a criminal attorney who has tried every kind of case, including fifty homicides cases…[Dudley Gray] has witnessed many times the tragic results of an innocent person being asked by the police, “Do you want an attorney?”, and answering, “Why would I need an attorney? I didn’t do anything.” Without the aid of a good criminal attorney, an innocent person can easily get railroaded straight to prison.[2]

An even more poignant point is made in the paragraph following, that

…Nobody cares if your innocent – not the cops, not the prosecutor, not even your attorney…With criminal attorneys, the game is money. With cops and prosecutors, the game is to rack up enough arrests and convictions to make them look good in the eyes of the high ups. To both sides, the criminal justice system is nothing but a game, and you are a pawn on the board.[3]

There are two types of crimes and attorneys who specialize in criminal law may not actually specialize in both types.

Misdemeanors are the less serious crimes, such as driving under the influence, shoplifting, petty theft, writing bad checks, drunkenness in public, or trespassing. These types of criminal cases constitute the majority.

Felonies, on the other hand, are more serious crimes, like burglary, murder, manslaughter, robbery, narcotics dealing, and major fraud. As felonies almost always carry jail time, you should not waste time with a bad attorney. Take the time and put in the effort it takes to find a good attorney.

There are a number of things you should avoid:

Don’t call an attorney from jail with the intent of having them represent you. It’s a waste of your time and of the phone call. Call a bail bondsman instead or make other arrangements to have bail posted. Start looking for an attorney once you are out of jail.

Don’t hire corporate or non-criminal attorneys to represent you in a criminal case under any circumstance. Even in white-collar crimes, which corporate attorneys have been known to handle, hire a criminal attorney with experience. Corporate and other non-criminal attorneys invariably botch criminal cases.

Avoid the high profile law firms with the “big gun” lawyers. You’re case will not receive the attention it deserves from these types, but you’ll be charged astronomical amounts for representation.

Avoid the court appointed attorneys if at all possible. Under law, if you can’t afford your own representation then the state will appoint on for you. Judges usually appoint the same lawyers, “known in the trade as roundheels, because they roll over easily on every charge…They will never take a case to trial, they won’t make a lot of motions which the judge will have to rule on, and they’ll grind the client down quickly to cop a plea so that the judge can keep his afternoon golf date”[4].

Don’t hire the “courthouse hustlers”, who pick you out as the defendant in a case and scare you into accepting their legal counsel. You’ll also be handing over your purse strings to these types so avoid them.

Stay away from attorneys who appear afraid to go to trial. They generally have very little experience and the experience they have of being in a courtroom has scared them for life. They won’t be able to help you, even if it is best to avoid going to trial in your case. You’re attorney’s judgment should not be impaired.

Never hire the criminal attorney who promises he can solve all your problems in the face of “inevitable, looming disaster”[5]. They run scams to overcharge you and get the same results a reasonable attorney would for a fraction of the price.

Family Law: Divorce

Most family law issues center around child custody and, thus, in many instances, around divorce.

Divorce is an area of law that many lawyers, good lawyers, avoid like the plague, because it is so often driven and complicated by extremely powerful emotions between the two parties. It’s generally better to have a divorce mediated or to try to discuss a settlement with your spouse without involving a third party.

If you do hire a divorce lawyer, avoid the following types:

Lawyers who offer cheap divorces, also known as divorce mill lawyers.

Stay away from lawyers who only represent one gender (men who only represent men; women who only represent women) in divorce cases. They invariably have conflicting interests and will do you no good in the long run.

Attorneys who add fuel to the fire of any dispute between you and your spouse are going to create more problems than you need or can afford. Aggression is a key element in their behavior and you don’t need any negative emotions from your lawyer.

Avoid attorneys who have a reputation for being difficult.

Stay away from attorneys who are afraid to go to court. While you should try and avoid going to court in divorce cases, sometimes it is necessary for you to get a fair settlement.

Generally you should stipulate what you want specifically in an agreement and insist upon it, provided it is reasonable. You shouldn’t let your attorney bully you into accepting or renouncing anything you want. Get everything in writing and read everything before you sign it.

Personal Injury Law

Keep in mind the disturbing fact: “Less than 50 cents if every liability dollar – often considerably less – ends up in the pockets of the injured.” Follow the general advice to find a good, reliable, and competent personal injury lawyer. Don’t go with the following types:

Lawyers who want 50% of winnings as their contingency fee. Between about 30% and 35% is the maximum any lawyer should ask to receive.

Any attorney you hear about via a third party, like the tow truck driver who tows your damaged car, or the nurses, doctors, or attendants in the hospital.

Ambulance chasers. These attorneys you happen to meet while you’re in hospital after an accident or who calls you up shortly afterwards to solicit you business.

Any lawyer who advertises on television. The better the ad, the worse the attorney will be for you, your case, and your wallet.

Probate Law

Probate law refers to the procedure that changes the legal ownership of property when a person dies. To avoid length legal disputes among your surviving relatives, it is certainly advisable, if considerable property is at stake, to draft a will that properly reflects how you want your property to be divided and distributed among your surviving relatives.

Real Estate Law

To avoid complications, in some real estate dealings you need to have the assistance of a qualified attorney. The most common instances are:

When you have purchased a home or another major property and you find that the seller misrepresented the building, concealing elements such as environmental hazards.

When the lender on your property or one of your creditors begins a foreclosure on the property for nonpayment of a debt.

When you are involved in a complex real estate deal.

When you are involved in an unsolvable landlord-tenant dispute.

When a transaction involves insurance issues or claims.

When you are being sued or suing for breach of contract.

Unlike most other types of lawyers, real estate lawyers are generally trust worthy. Some states also require or strongly advise that you hire a lawyer to review your real estate purchase deal, in which case you are fine hiring a lawyer from the equivalent of a “personal injury mill”. Real estate mills, where lawyers deal with a high-volume of basic real estate cases, are perfectly reputable and the ideal place to find a real estate lawyer to handle a simple case.

When you have a more complex case involving real estate, you are strongly advised to seek out a real estate lawyer with experience handling cases similar to yours. Saving money and controlling your lawyer involve you being duly diligent. The same thing applies when you are contemplating a real estate deal and would like to avoid the need to hire a lawyer. Be diligent: ask for a contract and reading every element; know your rights and your landlord or attorney’s responsibilities; get everything in writing so that it is clear if your contract or agreement is breached later on.

SUMMARY

At some time in our lives, we’re all likely to deal with attorneys. It is the nature of the society we live in; it’s only becoming more so. Attorneys can be as horrendous as their public image suggests; indeed, this report draws from sound evidence of attorney malpractice and general illegal activities, such as padding bills and deliberately misleading clients to make a profit. But acknowledging the problem is the first step to finding the solution.

Understanding the way that lawyers are likely to try to swindle you, as their client, is the first step to protecting yourself. Being vigilant and diligent about selecting and working with an attorney are the two other pieces to the puzzle. Not all lawyers are corrupt, incompetent, and downright criminal. Some do still believe the law to be a hallowed profession, despite the personal issues it also creates for many practitioners, including depression and substance abuse issues, as reports from medical research institutions like Johns Hopkins indicate.

Recognizing that there are other options besides filing lawsuits and following through with litigation is the second step to avoiding costly legal bills, which you may be subject to, even if you have an honest and competent lawyer.

Always ask yourself:

Do I need an attorney?

Can this problem be resolved by settlement, mediation, or arbitration before you consider a trial or hefty litigation?

When you need an attorney, always take the trouble to find a competent one and always stay involved in the litigation of your case.

[1] Gray, et al (1996).

[2] Gray, et al (1996).

[3] Gray, et al (1996).

[4] Gray, et al (1996).

[5] Gray, et al (1996).

See Prior Chapters Posted:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

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