How did I do it?
Easy, I had someone else pay.
Another good question and I’ll explain by telling the story of how I accidentally discovered how to get a good lawyer for free.
“Dave, deposit five thousand in my account and I’ll get started on the case. That’s my fee. When I see the five grand in the account I’ll begin work. When the five thousand dries up, you need to deposit another five thousand, that’s how it works. If there’s money left over at the end I’ll refund it to you.”
That’s what the lawyer told me on the other end of the phone. I inquired about his fees and if he’d be willing to take on a case involving a relative. My relative got into a squabble with another person over a business deal and asked for my assistance.
The other person in the dispute hired a lawyer. My relative got scared and that’s why he asked for assistance. My first reaction was to hire a lawyer.
As I called around taking to four or five lawyers I came to the realization that it was a stupid exercise. It would cost more money hiring a lawyer than just dealing with the other person directly. The dispute was over money so I figured the money would be better spent handing it to the other guy than handing it over to a lawyer. So, my mind began racing, how can we solve this without a lawyer?
Then it dawned on me … I don’t need a lawyer. Why? Because I’ve already got one! Who? Have you guessed it yet? Do you know where I’m going with this?
Here’s the way I explained it to my relative …
“We don’t need a lawyer because we already got one. And the one we got is free, we don’t have to pay anything. Listen, you can’t deal directly with this guy, negotiations have broken down. So he responded by hiring a lawyer. And, maybe that’s the best thing. Maybe – just maybe – this will work in our favor. All we have to do now is talk to his lawyer. She may be reasonable. She may be level headed. Who knows, she may even be willing to work out a fair deal – a deal fair to both parties. That’s it, instead of hiring our own lawyer, we’ll just use his lawyer. And, every time we talk to her, he gets the bill, not us. Ain’t it great?”
That was my plan. I went for it.
I called the other guy’s lawyer and we had a nice conversation.
ME: We just want to work out a deal that’s fair. That’s what you want right?
LAWYER: I work for my client and I want to work the best deal for him.
ME: So, let me get this straight, you’re not interested in a fair deal you just want what’s best for your client?
LAWYER: That’s right.
ME: Well, I assume your client is prepared to take this to court, that’s why he’s hired you, have I got that right?
LAWYER: That’s right.
ME: Well if you take this to court and the deal is lopsided and unfair in your client’s favor, no court will allow it. I read up on it and deals have to be fair to both parties. So, if you go to court with an unfair deal, what judge is going to rule in your favor?” (I went all Perry Mason on her.)
LAWYER: (Her mood changed.) I want a fair deal. I think we can work this out.
ME: And that’s all we want, a fair deal so we can get it settled without wasting court time.
Several weeks of this polite conversation went by and finally we got an email from the other guy’s lawyer saying something like this …
“OK, my client gives up. He can’t pay his lawyer fees anymore. This case is too expensive for him so he wants it to stop and he agrees to the terms we worked out.”
The final deal worked out $10,000 better for my relative. And, his legal fees added up to a whopping ZERO dollars and ZERO cents! In other words, FREE.
The other guy didn’t do so well. He lost ten grand. By working through a lawyer he somehow managed to negotiate a deal that paid out ten grand less than the original agreement with no lawyer involved. He ended up with $10,000 less cash by working through a lawyer. And to rub salt in the wound, he got to pay all the legal fees.
Lesson 1: Keep the lawyers out of it if you can.
Lesson 2: If the other guy can’t learn lesson one, then just use the other guy’s lawyer. It’s a lot cheaper – for you.
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. I’m not a legal expert. I’m not telling you what to do. I’m telling you what I did and what worked for me.