In January I announced I would stop blogging after a final post. Maybe I’ll start back later, but that’s not the current plan.

I have practiced law for 26 years. When I started this blog 11 years ago, I planned to practice for 50 years. I won’t make it. This post is a self-exploration of what changed.

I’ve heard some of the speculation. I don’t have another job lined up. I have no plans to move (before I stop practicing). The chances of those happening in the next year are not 0%, but neither are likely. My life is complicated. Muddling through as a solo might be my best move.

My blog is not as good as it used to be. I know it. It’s because I don’t spend as much time on it as I once did. I used to spend 8-10 hours a week writing blog posts. It’s hard to maintain the quality when that number goes down to 1 hour a week.

People ask me about blogging all the time. Blogging is hard. It takes a lot of time. Having an idea for 5 posts is a lot different from being able to write 50 posts. It’s hard to come up with topics.

Some people don’t like what you write. They let you know. It’s not a great feeling.

There are posts I’d like to have back. Especially when I started, I didn’t have a good feel for what topics I should not write about. It’s easy to fall into viewing page views and chasing them by writing about subjects that garner the most attention. Viewer stats were exciting at first. I remember getting excited when 10, then 50 or a hundred people read my blog. It was neat.

It took a while, but I figured out that writing for page views wasn’t for me. I stopped looking at viewer stats years ago. If people mention my blog, I figured I was reaching my audience—the approximately 5,000 attorneys in Mississippi.

Some lawyers who lost a trial don’t like to see me write about the verdict. I understand. I’m not proud of my losses either. But when I hear about a trial result, I never think the lawyer for the losing side blew it. Litigators are better off having a record of trying cases and losing them than never trying a case.

Litigators are interesting. We wrap our identity in the results of our cases. But we don’t apply that standard to our colleagues. We judge colleagues on diligence, not wins and losses. It sucks that we don’t apply that standard to ourselves.

I’m old enough to have friends who are judges. If they are a representative sample, judges do not judge attorney competency by won-loss records.

It would be disingenuous if I said I did not start blogging for attention. At the time, I would have told you it was to address a deep frustration I felt about ignorance within the Mississippi legal community about the mounting obstacles to litigating cases in Mississippi.

Hard as it is to believe now, a common refrain among defense lawyers when tort reform was enacted was: “plaintiff lawyers will always file cases.” I still remember some lawyers who said that. Not one has thrived in the current environment. Ironically, some no longer practice law. If you think about it, that shouldn’t be a surprise.

According to the Miss. Jury Verdict Reporter, in 2019 there were 0 products liability trials in Mississippi. Zero!

There were 10 medical malpractice trials with plaintiffs going a respectable 3-7. Good luck to the 3 winners on appeal. There were 35 car wreck trials. Most trials were fender benders. There were 10 employment cases. God bless the plaintiff employment lawyers. I took one employment case and vowed it would be my last when at the settlement conference the magistrate advised us to accept a mid 3-figure settlement offer.

Every Sunday and Monday attorneys from Butler Snow and other firms board planes and travel to places where significant litigation is happening. I’m not saying Mississippi should be one of those places. But it’s tough to see when it once was.

I’m not proud of results. I’m proud of work ethic and effort. I learned how to work at age 16 on the underground crew at Coast Electric Power Association in Gulfport. The underground crew put in the buried power lines. My job was to dig trenches with post hole diggers. On my first day, we had a about a 15 ft. stretch of primary trench that had to be dug by hand. We buried primary lines 4 ft. deep. That’s deeper than it sounds if you’ve never dug a 4 ft. hole. It’s the length of the shaft on a shovel—that’s how we measured whether the hole was deep enough. They broke that news the first time I asked how deep I needed to dig. I still had about 3 ft. to go.

I dug the entire 15 ft. myself. I didn’t know it, but it was a test. Usually, others on the crew would chip in and help. But they wanted to see if I had it. It took me 2 hours. When I was done, my hands were bleeding. But I never complained and I never stopped. I arrived at the job that day a pampered outsider. I left a respected member of the crew. Only then did they tell me the stories of the many people who couldn’t hack it.

Not that the job became easy. It was a hard job. It was summer. It wasn’t just digging—you had to go at a minimum pace and had to get sufficient dirt on every shovel or post-hole dig. I wasn’t hazed constantly. But I was hazed, particularly by the crew foreman. Now I appreciate it. There is no way I would have made it to law school, through law school and to where I am without that hazing and that experience.

I used to think I had a work-life balance. Only lately did I understand I didn’t. Work came first. Life came second. As far as where I devoted mental energy, work was always first. I was like that from 1993 to July 2015.

For me, to be the best attorney I could be, I had to let it consume me mentally for long stretches, particularly if a trial was approaching. My wife calls it my ‘turtle mode.’ I go into my shell and mentally disappear. It’s a fair analogy. Anyone who has ever tried a case with me understands.

I was in turtle mode a lot. Too much actually. I have regrets on that, but not on the whole. Work had to come first for me. It wouldn’t have worked for me otherwise.

The journey was the reward—not the results. The journey was litigating cases. I loved it more than anyone I knew. I can’t tell you how much I loved litigating cases.

And now I don’t. It’s okay. But I don’t love it. Even if I did, it wouldn’t be smart for me to do it much longer. It’s not good for me. Not mentally; not physically.

What changed? My wife got sick. 2015 was a hard year. I had hip surgery at end of 2014 and my hip just got worse in 2015. I couldn’t hike, which is my happy place the same way being in the outdoors is healing for hunters or fisherman. I couldn’t even walk more than a quarter mile pain free. I was in chronic pain and depressed. Then shit got really bad.

My wife played on a national championship basketball team at Delta State and is the best female athlete I’ve ever known. In 20 years, I’ve beaten her in horse once. Ten years ago she could still play shortstop. Her having health problems was not something I considered remotely possible.

In 2015 Deb was feeling off. She’d go up a flight of stairs and almost pass out. She had been experiencing terrible fatigue a while. She went to a cardiologist and they did a heart echo. I still remember where I was when she called to tell me the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension. It didn’t sound that bad. Plenty of people have hypertension. It can’t be that bad, right? Wrong.

That night I researched pulmonary hypertension. It’s a rare, progressive life-threatening disease. It is sometimes called an invisible disease because the person can look fine, but not be well. When I Googled ‘pulmonary hypertension life expectancy’ it said 2.5 – 3 years. She was 43. Our daughters were 19 and 9.

A week later we were at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. We were there a week and a half and have returned often. At a minimum, we go every summer when our youngest daughter is at camp.

The news was not all bad. We caught it early before she had heart damage. An early diagnosis and treatment doubles life expectancy. Some people live with the disease for years. Hopefully, she will be one of them. But as someone who has spent my fair share of time in casinos and betting my own money funding cases, I’m respectful of the odds.

I’ve learned tough lessons in my life. One is what I want to do when a loved one is sick. My mother died of lung cancer in 1998 and I blew it. I didn’t spend enough time with her. I will have guilt and regret about it for the rest of my life. I didn’t repeat the mistake when my father got sick in 2010. I will never make that mistake again.

So when Deb got sick, I went to the house for a month. I had to contemplate a future in which I may raise our youngest daughter alone. One thing I figured out was that future would not include me litigating cases. I would have quit working until she left for college and sorted the rest out then.

I also had to decide how much time I would spend with Deb and the quality of that time. For the first time, I put family first. It changed me as a person.

I stepped back in a way I never had before. Enough to get a glimpse of myself when I’m not consumed with litigation. It was illuminating. It’s nearly impossible for me to be present with my family when I’m focused on litigation.

I take at least 2.5 hours to unwind from work, and that’s only to a point. If I want to be present at 5:00 p.m., I need to be winding down by 2:30.

That’s hard to do all the time. I still revert to hyper-focus on work at times—just not all the time. It’s made me a better person. My mood is better. I’m more patient. I’m more present. I feel better.

When I’m consumed with litigation, I focus on being professional all day. Then I go home and act like a jackass half the time. Usually, I don’t even know it until it’s pointed out. Don’t worry, Deb is not reluctant to point it out.

Bars are full of litigators at 6:00 p.m. Most don’t know it, but they’re trying to medicate with booze to speed the unwinding process.

For 20 years my work schedule was 7:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. I did my deep work in the morning and spent the afternoon on the phone, blogging or doing administrative or mindless tasks. If I was busy, I brought work home and worked two hours at night. I usually worked 4 hours on weekends. A few times a year, I worked at least 30 straight days. I went many years without taking a week off at one time.

Not anymore. Depending on my workload, I may start now at 4:30 a.m. The goal is to be wrapping up by 2:30 p.m. Ideally, I will hit the gym and be home and present by 4:00 p.m. I take off several weeks per year.

I had to choose. What is best for my career is not what’s best for me personally. I think I’ve made the right choices lately. But who knows?

If I knew I would practice law for 10+ years without my family dynamic, I would move out of Mississippi. Nashville is the hot destination city, so I’d look there first. I would start over career wise. The work I like doing barely exists in Mississippi anymore. It’s like trying to farm in bad soil. I still may make a big move. But my life-work balance makes it a hard decision.

As recently as a decade ago, I thought I would practice at least 50 years. I won’t make it 35.

If I don’t stop before I’m sixty, I’m afraid something bad will happen. I’m in tune with my body enough to know that litigating cases is terrible for my health. If something hurts, litigation makes it hurt worse. I have no idea why. I just know it’s true.

I’ve had 4 surgeries in the last 20 years including a total hip replacement. I’m certain that my job and related stress impeded healing. Some believe stress causes heart disease. It makes sense.

We all know attorneys who had heart attacks at young ages. A good friend suffered a heart attack in court at a young age and had bypass surgery. I can name more than a few attorneys who died or had close calls with heart attacks before age 60. I want to get out before that’s me.

I view litigators differently than I used to. Most litigators are insecure and trying to hide it—myself included.

A litigator’s job is to resolve disputes. But that’s not why any of us became litigators. Litigators want to litigate and win. That’s not necessarily a good thing. There is tremendous intangible value for a client in ending a dispute. It’s rarely considered by their attorneys. I’m as bad as anyone on this. I’m much better at convincing other people to settle their cases than I am convincing myself.

I wonder if we need dedicated ADR lawyers who will not be litigating in the trenches if cases don’t settle. The problem with ADR now is it’s done by litigators, so they litigate in the alternative forum.

The few times I’ve dealt with ‘settlement counsel’ have been refreshing. The cases have not always settled, but settlement counsel’s whole approach and communication style differs completely from negotiating with litigators. The system needs more settlement counsel.

I have a growing fear that litigation changes people for the worst. Not everyone and not always, but the trajectory of what it does to the humanity of the person is usually down.

The reasons for this are numerous and complex. Always being immersed in conflict can’t be healthy. Having to deal with parties who—without exception—are emotional about their dispute is wearing. And as an astute colleague once observed, all the stress is cumulative. It never leaves the system.

Ego is another problem for attorneys. Ego is the enemy of litigators. All good litigators have an ego. I doubt there is an exception to the rule. The best of us can control and manage our egos. Some attorneys with the most trouble managing their egos go crazy.

A lawyer’s relationship with his/her ego seems to change during their career. Many lawyers get better with their ego. Some do worse. A lawyer with a runaway ego seems to stand out more the deeper into their career they get. I hope my ego is not what it once was, but if I’m like most people, self-awareness is not my strongest trait.

But the disease may be curable. I’ve encountered many former litigators who seemed like a burden had been lifted. They smiled more, were warmer, seemed less anxious and uptight and had an all-around healthier vibe.

Ego is not the most damaging trait I see in attorneys—that would be envy. For some, it starts in law school with students at the top of the class and never goes away.

Envy is poison. It’s toxic. It ruins people. I don’t know how common it is. It’s one of the few problems this career causes that I’ve never, or almost never, suffered.

Some people try to contain their envy, but it emerges occasionally.

Attorneys speaking from a place of envy often have venom in their voice. It’s visceral. It’s unfair because it makes the envied person disliked by the envier without good reason. It’s also unfair because the envier would happily trade places–that’s what they’re mad about.

Litigators with big egos are mostly just fooling themselves. Litigators are replaceable.

I am replaceable. You are replaceable. Almost no one is as bad a lawyer as you think. Almost no one is as good a lawyer as they think. Just because someone else would do it differently doesn’t mean the outcome would be different. Hundreds of people in Mississippi can do your job as well as you.

Here’s a take a lot of lawyers will disagree with: trial attorneys peak in their 40’s. I’m talking about as courtroom lawyers. The reason is that it is so physically hard to stay sharp day after day during trial.

Anyone who has tried a case for a week or more knows the toll it takes. I’ve tried cases that lasted two weeks where when the adrenaline crashed, I thought I would never feel right again.

Ideally, trial lawyers should be arguing appeals or in management and consultant roles in their 50’s and 60’s. That would be better for them, their firms and their clients.

The future for career litigators in Mississippi has never looked worse. Other than car wrecks, workers comp., criminal and domestic, litigation is on life support as a practice area.

According to the Miss. Jury Verdict Reporter, in 2019 here is the number of trials in Mississippi by practice area: 0 products liability; 5 premises liability; 4 civil rights; 10 employment; and 10 medical malpractice. Those numbers should petrify defense lawyers.

Attorneys who want to work on more complicated civil cases are waiting on a bus that will never arrive. I am one of those attorneys. Prospects are bad.

I don’t know what my professional future will be. I’m at an inflection point in my career. It was researching for this blog post in 2010 when I fully realized how bad of trouble small firm litigators who want to work on big cases are in. I ended that post with this:

It will be interesting to see how plaintiff firms in Mississippi will look 10–15 years from now. My guess is that we are getting close to an era where plaintiff firms in Mississippi get larger. And while this would cause plaintiff lawyers to lose some of their autonomy, it would put them in a better position to compete for leadership slots in national litigation.

That turned out to be true. When was the last time you checked how many attorneys Richard Schwartz and Morgan & Morgan employ in Mississippi? The numbers may surprise you. They surprised me and I try to keep up with these things. Quietly, the plaintiff firms spending the most on advertising are growing.

My personal life makes it complicated. I want to make another run with a big case or group of cases, but it looks unlikely if I stay in Mississippi. I could leave and have a good chance of working on what interests me, but it might not be best for my family.

I know I want to go out at the height of my skills. I never want to be the old litigator who the young litigators hear used to have it. I will be one of the first in my age group to retire from practicing law. Finances will not be a deciding factor. I still know how to work. I could do it for less money and still be happy.

I took a year off from college and law school. I was poor. I remember two-week paychecks in Montana that were sub $200. It was a great year. I should have stayed out west for several years.

It took practice, but I sleep better on the ground in a tent than in a noisy hotel. I can survive happily on much less than my current standard of living. I’m about to turn 53. Anything can happen, but I will be surprised if I’m still practicing when I’m 60. I see myself practicing 4-5 years and walking away.

I used to have a mental list of attorneys I wanted to try cases against. It’s long gone. My list now is of the trails I want to hike. At least once and as many as 3 times a summer, I hike 60-75 miles in 5 days.

Sometimes I hike in groups of 10-12 hikers in supported treks so we don’t have to carry all our gear between camps. I see other hikers break down physically over the week.

The reverse happens to me. I get healthier and stronger. The last day, I’m passing people on climbs who were leaving me behind day 1. I feel great at the end of the week. Something must be wrong when I start these weeks. It’s stress—it has to be.

I’m a different person when I’m hiking. I even use a different name, my ‘trail name.’ I like that person better than Phil the attorney. You probably would too.

My mother died at 58. My father had open heart surgery in his 50’s. At the rate I’m going, I will too.

My wife has a terminal illness. The clock is ticking. I will not kill myself practicing law just in case I live to 90. I do not want to spend my golden years answering discovery. I’ve got to get my daughter out of high school. Then, we will move someplace I can see a mountain out the window. And every day I feel like it, I go hiking.

I’m not saying you should go hiking. But attorneys should get out of their professional bubble.

Find your ‘hiking,’ whatever it is. Do it as much as you can. Because whatever your hiking is, it will beat the hell out of practicing law.

I’ve got two tips and an announcement in this post. First, the announcement.

After eleven years, I’ve decided to stop blogging. In retrospect, it’s past time. I’ll explain why in my last post.

The last post could be my longest ever. I plan to discuss the evolution of my views of Mississippi litigation. I view things a lot differently than I did eleven years ago. I will explore why in the last post.

It will take me a while to organize my thoughts and get it on paper. My goal is to publish the last post on March 2, but I may grant myself and extension.

The two tips are:

  1. install Sanebox email management to gain control over your inbox; and
  2. read the book The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway. It’s my new favorite book and the first paragraph in the first (non-introduction) chapter is the best summary for how life changes between 25 and 45 I’ve ever read. I wish I could have read it when I was 25 or 30.

Last week I talked about television advertising for attorneys. But what about internet marketing? Most attorneys aren’t fans.

Here is a portion of an email from a marketing list serve:

I too found [specific company’s] marketing worthless. I suspect the same is true of virtually all the pitches we receive from marketing companies. I tried a couple of them, and for 20+ years, I have cross examined their reps. Some of them generate a flow of trash calls but rarely a case on which I would open a file……but web marketing is now flooded with garbage. There is a mountain of trash with very few treasures.

I agree. My personal experience with web based marketing is that it is pouring money down a drain.

John Morgan writes that television advertising is what works. It’s hard to argue with his results.

Jimmie Gates with the Clarion Ledger penned an excellent article on attorney advertising over the holidays.

The article prominently features Richard Schwartz, the godfather of lawyer advertising in Mississippi. Besides the article, I recommend watching the accompanying video interview of Schwartz on the digital version linked above.

Schwartz spends “well over $1 million a year on ads.” In the video, he notes that lawyer advertising has gone from being frowned upon in some circles to expected.

It clearly works. Schwartz’s website lists 21 attorneys practicing at the firm. Morgan & Morgan, the other advertising behemoth in the Jackson market, lists 15 attorneys in their Jackson office. Both firms are masters at building a brand.

Other personal injury attorneys in Jackson are doing what they can to keep up. There are billboards for many different law firms around Jackson and daytime TV is filled with their commercials.

I would love to know from the big advertisers how they handle the huge volume of calls the ads generate and the percentage of callers converted into clients. There is no telling how many calls they get from people who are simply angry consumers or have a non-recoverable legal problem. Call screening has to be a big under-the-hood issue that grows larger with every dollar spent on advertising.

Seems like all the good attorney ad brands are taken. Maybe I’ll run an ad campaign as Mr. Sunshine:

Want an attorney who isn’t going to blow smoke and will keep it real? Call me, Mr. Sunshine. I’ll break it down why your case sucks and you should take the peanuts the insurance company is offering and run.

It’s a rhetorical question. I know the answer.

The reason all state courts in Mississippi don’t use electronic filing is, in a word, politics.

Some clerks don’t want to adopt electronic filing even though it would make their lives easier. Forcing them to is not worth it politically to the Supreme Court or the Bar. I’m using the word ‘politically’ broadly here–like in the sense of ‘office politics.’ I’m not suggesting it has anything to do with elections.

Understand though, this is my interpretation based on things I’ve been told over the last few years. Some might differ with my conclusions. I suspect, however, upon hearing a more detailed or different explanation, I would say “that’s still politics.”

And I get the politics explanation. Just because someone could exercise power and force all state courts to adopt ECF, doesn’t mean they should. It might not be important enough.

But at some point, it will be. Apparently, not everyone can take a hint. I’m not sure we can wait on the biggest hard headed clerks.

As 2020 approaches, I don’t view ECF as a technology issue. We’re past that. It’s established.

ECF is now an access to justice issue.  Most law firms are built around the assumption that filing will be done electronically. When they can’t, it throws a monkey wrench in the system.

Both from a money and time perspective, it’s less expensive to operate a practice when all filing is electronic. Not a little less expensive. A lot.

A solo who practices in an ECF venue probably can get by without an assistant. It takes seconds to file something and everyone registered in the case can download a copy. Just as importantly, there is a record that it’s filed.

Compare that to a paper filing jurisdiction. You have to mail to the clerk. If you want to be sure it was filed, you have to send them a copy and envelope so they can mail you a file stamped copy back. You also have to send copies to all other counsel and often the judge. Granted you can usually do that by email, although some lawyers don’t.

As a solo with a paperless practice, I shy away from taking cases in paper filing jurisdictions. It’s not going to be the decisive factor in whether I take a case, but it’s a factor. On a pro bono case it would be a deciding factor. If I’m going to take a case pro bono, I’m not going to make it harder on myself than I have to. I can’t imagine I’m the only attorney who feels that way.

It’s easier for solo and small firms to operate in ECF venues. It’s also less expensive for the clients, who end up paying the freight on paper filing and associated staff. This makes electronic filing an access to justice issue, not a tech issue.

Consider yourself lucky of you don’t have to do anything in a paper filing venue. The attorneys who complain the most about paper filing venues are the ones who practice full time in those venues. Just ask one. You’ll see.

Here is a preview of the December 2019 issue of the Miss. Jury Verdict Reporter:

  • $1,007,700 verdict- Chickasaw County truck negligence case (8/30/19);
  • $100,000 verdict- Lee County employment retaliation case covered here (11/21/19);
  • $3,500 verdict- Forrest County car wreck case (8/7/19);
  • directed verdict- Lamar County employment retaliation case; (11/14/19);
  • defense verdict- Harrison County medical malpractice case (10/17/19);
  • defense verdict- Jackson County embezzlement case (10/15/19; and
  • defense verdict- Rankin County medical malpractice case (11/10/19).

My Take:

Several of the cases were actually a lot more interesting than they sound.

As a reminder, because this confuses a lot of people, I do not publish or have any affiliation with the Mississippi Jury Verdict Reporter.

Thinking about going paperless but don’t know how? Sam Glover’s post on the Lawyerist blog explains how.

Glover opens with a salient point: if you haven’t already gone paperless, you will.

If you aren’t paperless already, you need to catch up.

When you are ready to leave paper (mostly) behind, use [Sam’s] guide to get started.

The Mississippi Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are paperless. Federal courts are paperless. The system just works better.

You can still print documents when you have a ‘paperless’ office, and you will. But you don’t have to and you will always be safe throwing paper in the trash once it’s scanned and filed. Most importantly, you will spend a fraction of the time looking for stuff.

And for God’s sake, don’t be the person in your firm who is keeping everyone else from going paperless.

Yahoo News reports on China experimenting with artificial intelligence in the judicial system. It opens:

Artificial-intelligence judges, cyber-courts, and verdicts delivered on chat apps — welcome to China’s brave new world of justice spotlighted by authorities this week….

The efforts include a “mobile court” offered on popular social media platform WeChat that has already handled more than three million legal cases or other judicial procedures since its launch in March, according to the Supreme People’s Court.

My Take:

I wouldn’t run out and open an AI litigation practice, but at some point tech is going to disrupt how cases are litigated and decided. There is too much inefficiency in the system for it not to.

Take personal injury litigation, for example. Insurance adjusters toil away trying to resolve cases before litigation. If they can’t, hordes of lawyers are ready to battle it out.

But when it’s over, most cases settle or are tried to verdict within a range that was predictable from the outset. There are cases right now where tens of thousands of dollars are spent working up a case that both side’s lawyers can already tell where it will settle.

Cases going the distance often result from one side or the other overly falling in love with their side’s arguments.

At some point, someone will develop an AI system that takes key metrics from a dispute and spits out a result. Insurance policies and contracts with impose the system pre-dispute, just like they do now with arbitration. It will gut sectors of the legal industry.

I don’t know exactly how or when tech will disrupt the legal industry. I just know it will.

There will still be a need for attorneys just like we still need workers in the railroad industry. But like the railroad industry, the legal industry’s glory days are behind us.

Zero Hedge ran this post last week about most Americans not being able to afford lawyers. It’s not an unusual take.

Stories like these suggest the problem is attorneys have priced themselves out of the market. I disagree. The problem is the civil justice system is not equipped to solve most people’s legal problems.

Consider this quote:

Most civil cases are usually about debt collection, landlord tenant disputes and home foreclosures. Lawyers will build their cases around litigants inexperience and inability to hire competent counsel.

Terry Lawson, a legal aid attorney in Missouri said: “These guys know they’re going to win. Their hope of hopes is that nobody will go get lawyers.”

The first paragraph is true. The second is true, but not the whole story.

As a reminder, lawyers aren’t magicians. Occasionally, an attorney can seemingly pull a rabbit out of a hat. That doesn’t make her a magician. In all likelihood, she will not repeat it in the next case.

The person looking for the lawyer in the debt collection usually owes the debt. Same for the tenant in the landlord-tenant dispute. Same for the homeowner subject to foreclosure. They are going to lose–with or without a competent attorney. So the creditor or landlord doesn’t really care whether the defendant gets a lawyer.

It’s also no surprise the consumer defendant can’t pay an attorney–no matter how much the attorney charges. If they could afford an attorney, they could pay their debt.

Lawyers want to help their clients. We crave job satisfaction and abhor feeling like we aren’t making a difference. These feelings don’t jibe with charging a client who is going to lose.

Who wants to charge a couple of thousand dollars to represent a client in a debt collection the client is going to lose anyway? How will that help the client?

In many of those disputes, the client is also on the hook for the other side’s attorney fees. Active litigation with an attorney will make those fees higher. Usually, they are better off not fighting the dispute in court.

I feel bad for people in those situations. It’s sad. But many times, a lawyer will just make a bad situation worse.

I get calls from people in these situations all the time. It’s soul sucking to hear their stories. It is the worst thing about my job. But I can’t help them regardless of whether they can pay my fee.

Want to help these people? Come up with a better system for handling these types of disputes.

The post continues:

And it’s not always about winning or losing in civil cases. Silvana Naguib, an attorney at Public Counsel, a California pro bono legal firm commented: “Lawyers can help negotiate better settlements. There’s a stark difference between the agreements signed by self-representing litigants versus what [I get] for clients.”

Ok. Want to help the problem? Fund more pro bono attorneys to advise consumer defendants. But that’s an issue for the legislative branch, not the judicial.

Lawyers didn’t create the system and are not magicians. We take way too much heat for something that’s not our fault.

On November 21, 2019, a Lee County jury returned a $100,000 verdict in Walters v. Brandi’s Hope  Community Services, LLC.

The jury found BHCS fired Plaintiff Heather Walters for reporting abuse of a patient. As an aside, state law requires health care workers to report suspected patient abuse.

The jury also found Defendant Danny Cowart maliciously interfered with Walters’ employment.

The jury awarded Walters $100,000 in damages.

Jim Waide and Rachel Pierce Waide of Waide & Associates in Tupelo represented Walters.

Mark Halbert of Phelps Dunbar in Tupelo represented Defendants.

Circuit Judge James D. Moore presided.