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Lawyer Is Big Winner In Webcamgate Settlement 475

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the par-for-the-course dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "The Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania has agreed to a $610,000 settlement in two lawsuits over secret photos taken on school-issued laptops. Less than a third of that will go to the students. A total of $185,000 will be put in trust for the students. Their lawyer will receive $425,000."
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Lawyer Is Big Winner In Webcamgate Settlement

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  • Associated costs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:14AM (#33870230)

    But you know, lawyers have costs too. For example they need to pay their office, wages, taxes, and paper isn't free either. The students itself didn't have any costs and I doubt they would had win the case without a lawyer, don't you think?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mbourgon (186257)

      How's that a troll? Usually the agreement is for the lawyer to get a healthy cut on a spec case, since the only payment they get is if they win.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jedidiah (1196)

        ...people expect lawyers (and everyone else) to work for free.

        With this sense of proletariat entitlement you would think that we were all posting from the Soviet Union rather than the US of A and Western Europe.

        Although the percentage here is a bit much. Somewhere around 1/3rd is more the norm.

        Although most people have only two choices: Allow for the "thick percentage" or have no representation at all.

        • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:33AM (#33870584) Homepage

          ...people expect lawyers (and everyone else) to work for free.

          Not quite. Continue on for my explanation...

          Although most people have only two choices: Allow for the "thick percentage" or have no representation at all.

          That's why people are pissed. They know that your options are extremely limited, and they take advantage of that fact by charging pretty much whatever they want.

          • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:35AM (#33870612) Homepage

            I should also note that a six-figure education doesn't help lawyer costs, either...the price payed for a lawyer's education is just as ludicrous as the price they charge their clients.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by twidarkling (1537077)

            Actually, a lot of people do expect professions like lawyers and doctors to do some work for free. That old saw about meeting a guy at a party who says he's a lawyer, and asking his advice is true. People often think that just asking a question should be free, never mind that it does take that extensive education and some questions are fairly complicated to answer. But no, "oh, you make a lot of money usually, and this is just a question, so I should get access to your knowledge for free."

            • Re:Associated costs (Score:5, Interesting)

              by AhabTheArab (798575) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:01PM (#33871122) Homepage
              Most IT professionals will answer computer questions for free. Hell, even when it goes beyond just answering a question and it actually involves work, a lot of us will still do it for free or at least low cost.
              • by tsm_sf (545316) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:12PM (#33871324) Journal
                This. An IT professional will do more free work than a doctor or lawyer would ever dream of. Some people have legal problems... everyone has problems with windows.
                • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:46PM (#33872032)

                  This. An IT professional will do more free work than a doctor or lawyer would ever dream of. Some people have legal problems... everyone has problems with windows.

                  If an IT professional were legally liable if they mess up something when doing free work, would any of them still do it?

                  • by eth1 (94901) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @01:27PM (#33872842)

                    It doesn't matter if you're legally liable or not. Once you touch someone's computer, all future problems become YOUR problem, and they expect you to fix it for free.

                    This is why I pretty much refuse to do anything like that outside of my job, free or not, unless you happen to be my parents or other similarly close relation.

                    Besides, I work with computers all day. I don't want to work on my *own* computer when I get home, let alone someone else's...

                • Re:Associated costs (Score:5, Informative)

                  by Kijori (897770) <ward.jakeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:56PM (#33872236)

                  I'm not sure that that's true. I'm a law student and the solicitors that I know do a lot of work for free - both in the IT worker sense of giving friends small pieces of advice and by doing pro bono work for disadvantaged people.

                  It's true that an IT worker might offer to do some actual work, such as reinstalling software or cleaning viruses off a computer, as a favour for a friend, but there isn't really any comparable work for a lawyer. First, any mistake you make could cost an incredible amount of money for both the friend and you; second, even fairly simple tasks, such as preparing a will, can take a long time because of the formalities involved.

        • Wow, just... wow (Score:2, Insightful)

          by rsilvergun (571051)
          So, it's OK to have a society where a group that produces absolutely nothing (e.g. what we call a 'parasitic class') can pocket 2/3 of our wealth? This the really what's wrong with America. Instead of asking how we can fix this awful situation we're busy asking how we can be the guy that gets paid $400k to fill out a little paperwork.
          • by SpeZek (970136) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:37AM (#33870642) Homepage Journal
            So services are useless? I suppose you think garbage men shouldn't be paid, since all they do is feed off the remnants of society and do a job that anyone could easily do themselves?
          • Re:Wow, just... wow (Score:5, Informative)

            by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:40AM (#33870726)
            Short answer is that he doesn't get to keep it. There's whatever he gets to keep as a part of his salary, but there's the cost of the paralegals, office, professional literature, time spent interviewing witnesses, time spent researching the case and coming up with a strategy. There's a lot of work that goes into the practice of practicing law.

            Plus, if the case was taken on contingency, which it looks like it was, he has to worry about the possibility of losing and ending up being paid nothing. Which can and does happen, there's a reason why attorneys work so hard to keep things out of the courts, the jury can be very unpredictable at times.
          • Uh, the guy "produced" a $600,000 settlement because he filled out "a little paperwork".

            Without his representation there would have likely been no settlement.

            This isn't 1890s America. We don't value services based on the trading rate of beaver pelt.

          • by Grond (15515) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:56AM (#33871022) Homepage

            You do realize that the plaintiffs signed a contract with the attorney specifically pointing out the details of the contingent fee, right? That the rules of legal ethics require the attorney to make it clear to the client how a contingent fee works? If the plaintiffs wanted to take the entire award, they could've hired an attorney that they paid by the hour. They wanted to pay nothing up front, and the trade off is that they took a much-reduced award on the back end.

          • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:58AM (#33871062) Homepage Journal

            group that produces absolutely nothing

            This one produced a win for privacy rights and the rights of children.

            But hey, you can't get your knee jerkin' with that kind of rhetoric.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by UnknowingFool (672806)

            So, it's OK to have a society where a group that produces absolutely nothing (e.g. what we call a 'parasitic class') can pocket 2/3 of our wealth? This the really what's wrong with America. Instead of asking how we can fix this awful situation we're busy asking how we can be the guy that gets paid $400k to fill out a little paperwork.

            If you think being a lawyer = "filling out a little paperwork" then I suggest you try to become one. Law is one of three professions that requires post school testing and certification (medicine, accounting, and law). Engineering requires testing and certification only in the construction side of engineering. It takes more than filling out paperwork, it takes knowledge just like medicine is more than a physical exam and writing prescriptions and accounting is more than balancing a checkbook. These are ju

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by CherniyVolk (513591)

              Is 2/3 a high amount? Yes. But do you know exactly what was in that bill? Most likely the lawyers had to answer every motion, address every detail that the school district would throw at them in order to even get the suit to proceed. Being the school district, the lawyers would probably have to fight motions to dismiss as the school would argue that they can't be sued as part of state. Then even if they could be sued, everything fell under protected state behaviors, etc. That's a lot of time on a lawyer's p

        • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:39AM (#33870700)

          ...people expect lawyers (and everyone else) to work for free.

          Indeed how DARE the proles expect the legal system to function without ludicrous fees!

          • by Pojut (1027544)

            "I got your legal system right here ::lifts toy shotgun::" -My grandfather while watching My Cousin Vinny.

            I'm not kidding.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pojut (1027544)

      The student's school took photos using the webcam on their laptop.

      Do you really need an answer to your question?

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Trials aren't about finding out who is right. If it were that simple we wouldn't have attorneys. There's a lot of things that can go wrong, there's a lot of procedural rules that can sink a case quite quickly.

        There's an old saying, that a man who defends himself has a fool for a client. And there's a good reason why folks say that.
  • Irony (Score:4, Funny)

    by gatzby3jr (809590) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:18AM (#33870300) Homepage

    And the irony is? All the money came from the tax payers.

    • Re:Irony (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jwietelmann (1220240) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:24AM (#33870410)
      That's not really ironic, seeing as those taxpayers voted the idiots onto the school board. It seems pretty appropriate to me. If I hire an employee who does something stupid on behalf of the company, I have to suffer for it. Taxpayers have to suffer for their bad hires, too.
      • 1 Donate money to dimwitted politicians running for low turn out positions like school boards

        2 Make them do really stupid things

        3 Sue the school board and collect class action damages

        4 Give the pols their share from the collection

        5 ...

        6 profit!

        Lather, rinse and repeat!

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      According to TFA, the insurance company covered it. Admittedly the cost will filter down into the premiums, but the taxpayer didn't take a significant hit here (although as another post points out, hiring morons has a financial cost, and this is just an example of that).

      What struck me as odd is that one student got $175k and the other only got $10k.

    • by olddoc (152678)

      The money came from the kids! They would have had the extra $425,000 if the lawyers didn't take the cut.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by stewbacca (1033764)

        The money came from the kids! They would have had the extra $425,000 if the lawyers didn't take the cut.

        Yes, I'm sure two teenagers would have been able to negotiate a $600k settlement using Wikipedia or YouTube.

    • No, the ironic part is that as part of the settlement, the lawyer will get most of the footage obtained from the school's spying.

  • Lawyers... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ihatejobs (1765190) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:18AM (#33870304)

    Lawyers are legalized crooks, news at 11. The world would be a better place without them. The fact that we need specialized professions to be able to properly navigate the legal system is, well, downright stupid.

    • by grumpyman (849537)
      "The world would be a better place without them" - seriously? If they're all dead today I'm sure there's a bunch of people eventually will be come what you called 'lawyers'. Without the use of professionals, maybe we'll rely on the government or judges to kindergarten the parties involved in each case, sorta like Judge Judy? So we're looking at big tax raise for it, maybe unless we televise all the drama online. Or maybe we can just all move to a place where judgments are made very rapidly - how about C
    • by sycodon (149926)

      Ninety percent of lawyers give the other 10% a bad name.

    • Lawyers are legalized crooks, news at 11. The world would be a better place without them. The fact that we need specialized professions to be able to properly navigate the legal system is, well, downright stupid.

      Plumbers are legalized crooks, news at 11. The world would be a better place without them. The fact that we need specialized professions to be able to properly navigate the plumbing system is, well, downright stupid.

      Coders are legalized crooks, news at 11. The world would be a better place wi
    • Re:Lawyers... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Tucker (302549) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:51AM (#33870944) Homepage

      Indeed, why, all those lawyers, WTF did they do for Rosa Parks, and black kids wanting the same education as the white kids and all those other minorities who wanted to have the same rights as the majority, like being able to vote?

      And the lawyers here in Massachusetts, who convinced the Supreme Judicial Court that, yes, gay people do indeed have the right to marry, lazy bastards, all they did was point to a couple of amendments in the Constitution and the Commonwealth charter!

      And DO NOT get me started on the Southern Poverty Law Center! Suing Klansmen and Nazis just because they like to beat up and murder people.

      Yeah, get rid of all the lawyers.

      Until YOU need one, of course.

      Thank you for proving the truth of Ted Nelson's comment about fools and computers.

  • Which is why the parents should have held-out for more money. If for example the damages were 2 million, the lawyer would get his 425,000*, and the students would get 1.6 million. The fact the parents chose to accept such a paltry sum merely demonstrates a poor decision on their part.

    *
    * Actually the lawyer only gets ~$220,000. The rest goes to taxes. So gov't made-out big too.

    • by samkass (174571)

      Which is why the parents should have held-out for more money. If for example the damages were 2 million, the lawyer would get his 425,000*, and the students would get 1.6 million.

      And what do you think the lawyer was advising the parents to do? He already gets his cut.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      The parents should have convened a Lynch mob but that sort of thing is frowned upon in civilized society.

      Some jail time for the perpetrators would have been more appropriate but quite often the system is not going to care about you or your problems.

      An imperfect bludgeon beats none at all.

    • by ari_j (90255) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:28AM (#33870470)
      It may not be a poor decision. We don't have enough information to decide that. (We also don't have enough information to decide if the lawyer was overpaid, underpaid, or appropriately paid. But, O Slashdot, don't let lack of knowledge get in the way of your prejudices about other vocations.) In settling a lawsuit, both sides have the same decision to make: What is the marginal risk of holding out for that next dollar? If you don't take the current offer, do the odds of getting more tomorrow weigh favorably against the odds of getting less tomorrow?
  • by durkzilla (1089549) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:18AM (#33870316)
    Just a reminder kids - stay in school - LAW SCHOOL.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Grond (15515)

      Just a reminder kids - stay in school - LAW SCHOOL.

      That would be a bad idea. The legal job market is terrible [nalp.org] and will remain so for a long time because of the tremendous oversupply of lawyers. The situation is likely to get worse; despite the oversupply, universities are actually opening new law schools [wikipedia.org] and increasing class sizes. Meanwhile, the number of available jobs is shrinking as law firms lay off associates and partners, government agencies have their budgets frozen or cut, corporate legal depart

  • QED (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:18AM (#33870324)
    This lawyer has proven that lawyer-driven lawsuits are a critical part of keeping the high-paid lawyer system intact.
  • as usual... (Score:5, Informative)

    by alanshot (541117) <rurick&techondemand,net> on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:20AM (#33870340)

    the only winners in class action lawsuits are the lawyers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ari_j (90255)
      I don't know about that. I'm pretty happy about some of the class action lawsuits that have resulted in a lower likelihood of banks and pharmaceutical companies screwing me over, even though I never got a dime from them being settled or tried.
    • Thats because the class doesn't lose anything if the case doesn't go their way - the lawyer representing the class is the one bearing the risk.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tophermeyer (1573841)

        You've posted this point in response to at least one other comment. I want to commend you for it.

        Like this case, class action lawsuits are pretty commonly taken on with no guarantee of compensation. If the plaintiffs lose, their legal team gets nothing. Complain about the moral sliminess of lawyers all you want, but like all of us they definitely will not work for free.

    • Re:as usual... (Score:5, Informative)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:59AM (#33871088)

      Actually, it's a little-known secret that the companies being sued (and their insurers) often benefit too, and sometimes even quietly "encourage" a given firm to pursue a class action suit. For the price of one easy settlement, they're permanently indemnified from being stung with thousands of individual suits (since the VAST majority of plaintiffs, even if they do hear about the suit, will not go to the trouble to opt-out of it).

      Lawyer gets paid crazy amount of cash. Company gets indemnity against future lawsuits. Consumer gets a crappy coupon for $5 off their next purchase.

  • Such things happen every day, every time.
  • Better FAs (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:23AM (#33870384) Homepage Journal

    Network World [networkworld.com]
    AP [google.com]
    Philadelphia Inquirer [philly.com]
    USA Today [usatoday.com]
    Over 300 more [google.com]

    Skunkpost? WTF is that?

  • Less than ideal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oracleguy01 (1381327) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:24AM (#33870398)
    I am glad they won and I don't particularly care that the lawyers are getting paid the majority of the settlement. What I do care about is that the people actually responsible aren't going to be punished. The settlement will be paid by the district's insurance policy and the people actually responsible will get to walk away.
  • -gate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kellyb9 (954229) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:24AM (#33870404)
    I'm hoping eventually we run out of stuff to attach "gate" to.
  • by pla (258480) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:25AM (#33870418) Journal
    Tough call for me, on this one.

    On the one hand, I don't even bother participating in the various class actions suits I qualify for, because my dignity costs more than a $5 gift certificate. The lawyers in those situations should make far, far less.

    In this situation, though, that really amounts to a pittance for even a small legal team, perhaps three lawyers plus their supporting staff, working for a solid two months on the case; Unfortunately, this one had no big corporate pockets to raid, and even in winning, the community (rather than the school administration) suffers. So a bigger payout that might really have given the kids something to enjoy, wouldn't have counted as a win for anyone.

    Personally, I'd much rather have seen the school administration facing child porn charges, and no civil penalties involved. Then, and only then, could we have seen a "win" here.
  • Let me be the first to /facepalm.
  • As always! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by airfoobar (1853132) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:25AM (#33870432)

    It's always the lawyers who win. Always the lawyers.

    The RIAA fighting piracy? Lawyers make millions. Microsoft asserting its software patents? Lawyers make millions. Porn studios want to sue a bunch of people? They call Andrew Crossley. Layers make millions. Andrew Crossley leaks the database of his victims? Sue him. Lawyers make millions. Someone calls you a dick on the internet? Sue him. Lawyers make millions. A hospital patient dies? Sue the doctors! Lawyers make millions. etc etc etc

    Where does all that money come from? Of course, we as good little consumers and taxpayers, pay for everything. It's not the shareholders that lose money -- companies have an obligation to keep them happy -- but they have no obligation towards their customers or any need to keep prices reasonable.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      I think that insulating the shareholders from anything but the bottom line has a lot to do with things.

      Even if they did care how a company got there, they are still blind unless they make a major effort to investigate, and considering how the management usually likes to shut them out, it's often more convenient to just sit back and collect dividend checks.

    • Re:As always! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Grond (15515) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:03PM (#33871166) Homepage

      Yes, it's true, when parties have disputes, the people they hire to represent them in those disputes get paid.

      You might as well say "it's always the doctors who win." After all, everybody gets sick eventually, and there are the doctors, just waiting to get their cut, profiting off of the suffering of others.

      Or "it's always the programmers who win." After all, computers are everywhere now, and somebody has to program them. And there are the programmers, eager to take their slice. They write a program once and sell a million copies. What parasites!

      Or you could look at it as a valuable service rendered by specialists so that other people don't have to worry about the details of the legal system, modern health care, or computer programming. It's called the division of labor, and it's essential to a well-developed economy.

      It's not the shareholders that lose money -- companies have an obligation to keep them happy

      Shareholders lose money because of lawsuits all the time. A company loses a suit and its stock price tanks. A company has to pay out a ton of money and there's none left over to pay shareholders a dividend. A company loses a major suit, goes bankrupt, and the shareholders get nothing. Companies can try to pass on costs to customers, but it doesn't always work. If passing on the cost means raising prices above what the market will bear, customers will go elsewhere.

  • Windfall profit tax (Score:3, Interesting)

    by m0s3m8n (1335861) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:26AM (#33870446)
    Maybe we can apply some oil company resentment and institute a Windfall Profit Tax, just to spread the wealth around a little. Na, this would take an act of Congress, members of which are mostly lawyers.
    • by jedidiah (1196)

      These lawyers are already going to get hit with a "Windfall Profit Tax".

      That's how things work in the real world. Individuals and small companies get creamed on their taxes. It's the megacorps that manage to get all the breaks. ...so a lot of this is going straight back to the Feds.

  • The sad part for the parents is that they really have no legal alternative to suing themselves.
  • What was the Lawyer doing in the secret pictures taken by the school laptops?
    Cocaine, the children, padding the bill? Anything is possible,and not a clue in the article.

  • Free Legal care! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by olddoc (152678) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:32AM (#33870556)

    Where is the call for the US governemt to take over Legal care?
    Isn't legal care a right? Isn't $425,000 a big bill to be paid?
    Where are the liberals and the Democrats in calling for Lawyers to be paid like Doctors?
    How about a system of free legal care for everyone with lawyers paid according to a scale set by the governemnt? Spying on kids = $8,000 fee, not $425,000.
    Unlike Obamacare, this really could save taxpayers money.

    I just wish Congress did unto lawyers what they do unto doctors.....

    • Re:Free Legal care! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by misexistentialist (1537887) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:28PM (#33871584)
      It is true that a single-payer legal care system would be more fair. As it is the wealthy with infinite legal resources only have to comply with about 25% of the law, while everyone else is held to a stricter standard. The poor may receive free legal aid and public defenders, but society basically tolerates them as a criminal class anyway. Really the American middle-class is hardest squeezed by greedy legal companies and should demand government recognition of the right to legal care.
    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:38PM (#33871806) Journal

      This is NOT funny. It is downright Insightful.

      The problem is Trial Lawyers are in the pocket of the (D) party, so nationalizing Legal Care like they just did with Health Care is not really going to happen. Not to mention most of those serving in the Legislature are lawyers (on both sides of the isle)

      I always thought that lawyers writing laws was a conflict of interest. I wonder why that has never been addressed before.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by olddoc (152678)
      Here is a well thought out argument for what a government takeover of the legal industry would be like http://www.singlepayerlegal.org/ [singlepayerlegal.org]
  • Definitions (Score:4, Funny)

    by Intron (870560) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:45AM (#33870814)

    Attorney - An honest, well-educated representative of my interests before the court.

    Shyster - The low-life, lying dirtbag representing my opponent.

  • it looks like only 2 students will get any money (and only one gets much).
    I find it strange that while we know that this happened to all the students only one or two of them gets any compensation.

  • at 40 hours a week 1000 billable hours comes out to 10 months of work, which is how long the case has been in the news. nothing greedy about it

    not like the lawyer keeps everything. there are office expenses, salaries for paralegals, business taxes, personal taxes, benefits and a long list of other expenses that have to be paid before they can take some money home to pay their personal expenses.

    on another forum i frequent there is a lawyer who lives in this school district and he drives a toyota. mos

  • No, we all win. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bedroll (806612) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:46AM (#33870832) Journal

    I don't get this attitude that the lawyers are the only winners. Sure, they're the big financial winners here. This was never a case about lost funds, though. It was a case in which the students sought both relief from invasive practices and a punitive sum to discourage further similar actions. They won on both counts, and since no school district wants to shell out over half a mil because they spied on their students it should be a win for the privacy of teens everywhere.

  • by hypergreatthing (254983) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:52AM (#33870946)

    who got sacked for doing this? Who's going to jail? who's being charged with pedophilia? Who's on the sex crime watch list because of this?

    Because if the answer is no one then justice was not served and no one learned any lessons 'Cept that Lawyers charge a lot for their services.

  • by owlicks58 (560207) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @01:50PM (#33873286) Homepage

    As an attorney myself, I feel the need to address some misconceptions.

    1. This was not a class action, it was simply two individual cases.
    2. The article is woefully sparse on details regarding the settlement. I do not practice in Pennsylvania, but I can assure you that the Rules of Professional Conduct in that state do not allow attorneys to take a nearly 70% fee. Most states will only allow a maximum fee of 35% or so. In a contingency fee practice, the client is always responsible for his or her own costs, unless the client fee agreement specifically states otherwise. Under the agreement, these costs are advanced by the attorney, but the client is ultimately responsible for repayment. In this case, it seems unlikely that the attorney could have accumulated $350k in costs, but regardless, any money above that 35% (more likely 33%) ceiling is going to repay money the attorney already spent out of his or her own pocket. These costs do not include the attorney's salary, her staff's salary, office rent, etc, they only include direct costs related to the case, such as legal research fees, travel expenses, filing fees, and expert fees.
    3. An attorney DOES have repercussions if she issues casual advice to a potential client. The attorney/client relationship begins before any agreement is signed between the parties. Details, even from an initial meeting and even if the attorney is not ultimately hired to represent the client, are protected by attorney/client privilege and the attorney can land herself in hot water if she breaches this privilege.

    Something to remember here is that an individual can always represent him or herself in court, so long as the individual is competent. That being said, hiring an experienced attorney will inevitably lead to a better outcome, very likely offsetting any costs. Unfortunately, our legal system is far too complex to navigate effectively without years of education and experience.

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