Yes, I’m holding for the controller’s office…my name is Namby, I’m one of your company’s lawyers…yes I’ll wait. Hi there, I’m calling to see if your office issued a check to the Plaintiff in the Jones case… Yeah, I’m still waiting. It didn’t go out? Your CEO told you that it was supposed to go out no later than the fifth? He didn’t? What?!? Ok, thank you.
When I’m not chasing the ambulance, slacking on ESPN.com or getting dumber in 140 character intervals, I take up the sword and shield for poor, defenseless corporations. I’m not claiming that I am defending huge-multinationals or the Fortune 1000 companies only several solid corporate citizens of the Midwestern United States who make high quality widgets. These widget makers, much like the salt of the earth victims of their own clumsiness someone else’s negligence that fill the majority of my work days, can be absolute f***ing morons. Only they wear nicer clothes.
Mr. Smith? Yes, this is Namby Pamby, I’m with the… yes, I’m one of your lawyers. I was calling about the Jones case. I’ve had several nasty phone calls with the Plaintiff’s counsel and he tells me that the settlement check hasn’t been received… Oh you haven’t sent it? That’s um…ok…well…ah… you remember the settlement agreement that you signed May 1st? It said that you would have the settlement check issued within five days or we would be in breach…
Now for an extended segue: one of the many reasons that I became a lawyer is that I suck at math.
The Plaintiff’s counsel called, the settlement installment check was $57.13 short. They’ve given us three days to fix this or “they will see us in court”.
This math suckery was totally self-inflicted as once I discovered that the answers were in the back of the book for all my math homework my incentive to study disappeared. I learned the hard way, come test time, in the 7th grade, you just can’t spin the truth about two plus two equaling four. After this, my math skills never improved and after nearly flunking high school calculus, I’ve not taken any class rooted in numbers ever since. Thus, math not being my thing creates a problem for me professionally: business people use math to run their businesses. Business people using math do not relate well to lawyers using logic.
Either we tender the correct amount, plus reasonable attorneys fees to the Plaintiff’s counsel, or the settlement agreement will be rescinded and we will be heading back to court… It’s $900. Write the check and lets move on to something bigger and better. You will end up writing a check 25 times larger to me if you make me fight this not to mention what happens if we lose.
Back onto my clients and their smartness…
I know you hate the Plaintiff’s lawyer. Just give me the permission to shut him up.
For two years I dealt with one client who runs his business, makes a lot of money and was being sued. He really, really didn’t like that he was being sued. After hiring legal counsel he directed me, my partner and my firm to attack (read: delay) and that’s exactly what we did. Nearly a quarter of a million dollars in attorneys fees later we settled the case for exactly what we could have before spending any of that time or money. Before you think we gleefully drafted every motion we could think of (which we did) and dutifully billed our hours (which we did) to the unwitting detriment of our client; let me assure you that every two weeks we called, wrote and texted our pleas for authority to settle the case. And it never came.
I’ve authorized to accept your most recent settlement demand… I can hear you smiling over the phone. Why did they do this? Because frankly my client has finally seen that spending another $100,000 in legal fees and not to mention whatever happens at trial doesn’t make any sense. I also think that the mediation finally opened all parties eyes to what was in store here…
This is client math: $250,000 + 2 years of pissing & moaning + the settlement < $75,000 (what the case could have been settled for at the start).
Like so many lawyers, I hate dealing with numbers. I'm bad at math, and I don't like it when numbers creep into my word-work. But it's ironic that so much of my pay check will come from corporate clients because they are even worse at math than I am. It's somewhat poetic, though as a lawyer I don't like dealing with poetry either.
[Related: There's Hope (For Those Who "Get It") by The Philadelphia Lawyer]