Monthly Archives: August 2007

Types of Lawyer Jokes Part 2 – Lawyers are Greedy

As you will remember from Part 1 of this series, lawyer jokes fall into several types. Here are some examples of Type 2- “Lawyers are Greedy”:

 A lawyer, a used car salesman and a banker were gathered by a coffin containing the body of an old friend. In his grief, one of the three said, “In my family, we have a custom of giving the dead some money, so they’ll have something to spend over there.”They all agreed that this was appropriate. The banker dropped a hundred dollar bill into the casket, and the car salesman did the same. The lawyer took out the bills and wrote a check for $300.***

A dog ran into a butcher shop and grabbed a roast off the counter. Fortunately, the butcher recognized the dog as belonging to a neighbor of his. The neighbor happened to be a lawyer.

Incensed at the theft, the butcher called up his neighbor and said, “Hey, if your dog stole a roast from my butcher shop, would you be liable for the cost of the meat?” The lawyer replied, “Of course, how much was the roast?” “$7.98.”

A few days later the butcher received a check in the mail for $7.98. Attached to it was an invoice that read: “Legal Consultation Service: $150 .”

***

A man went into a lawyer’s office, and demanded to see the lawyer. He was escorted into the lawyer’s office.

The man needed legal help, but he knew how expensive lawyers could be, so he inquired, “Can you tell me how much you charge?”

“Of course”, the lawyer replied, “I charge $500 to answer three questions.”

“Don’t you think that’s an awful lot of money to answer three questions?”

“Yes it is”, answered the lawyer, “What’s your third question?”

***

So where do these jokes come from? One possible explanation is to tie this in with Part 1 – the formerly racist joke – and argue that these jokes allow lawyers to dust off Jewish jokes. While that may be partly true, especially given the number of Jewish attorneys out there, I think that explanation lets the profession off the hook too easily.

One possible explanation is that we charge a lot, and “feast on misery,” to quote the Simpsons – we usually only do our jobs when the client has a problem.

Then I thought about plumbers, doctors, roofers, etc. They charge a lot. They each “feast on misery.” No one wants to call a plumber, or break an arm and go to the doctor, and heck, as we speak there are roofers at my house because my roof is leaking and dripping onto my bed. But you don’t have plumber/roofer jokes, and doctor jokes don’t hinge upon them being greedy.

I think it comes from a failure as a profession to show value to our clients. I can tell when my toilet stops leaking, and I can see the new roof. When I feel better or get my arm in a cast, I know what a doctor did. But how good are we at telling/showing our clients what we actually do for them, and what value we bring to the table?

I think this is something the profession as a whole needs to work on. Even when we do something tangible and good – ie a favorable jury verdict – the client may still wonder if the result would have been the same if he had tried the case himself.

So… how do you show value to your clients?

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Rock Island County Arbitration Statistics

I attended a meeting today regarding Rock Island County Arbitration cases. The goal of the meeting was to decide what statistics the county should keep on these cases to help attorneys and arbitrators value cases.

The statistics they kept for the last year were very interesting:

  • 19 – number of cases tried to a jury between June 2006 and June 2007 after rejection of arbitration award (all further statistics will refer to this group of cases).
  •  $7,606.04 – average arbitration award.
  • $3,927.13 – average jury verdict.
  •  3 – number of cases with a jury verdict of $0. 
  • 37% – percentage of jury verdicts that were below the amount of medical bills.
  • 3 – number of verdicts greater than the arbitration award.
  • 84% – percent of jury verdicts that fell below the arbitration award.
  • 2 – number of verdicts over $10,000.
  • 6 – number of arbitration awards over $10,000.
  • 121% – average jury verdict is 121% of the medical bills.
  • Howard Zimmerle – the attorney with the highest jury verdict out of these 19 (pats self on back).

So what are the conclusions to draw from this?

First, many of these cases should have been filed as small claims cases, as very few got even an arbitration award over $10,000, the small claims limit.

Second, your client will not be awarded much for pain and suffering in these types of cases.

Third, the arbitrators may overvalue a lot of these cases.

Fourth, cases with a value of between $15,000 and $50,000 (the arbitration limit), must either settle before trial or be filed as “L” cases (over $50,000).

Fifth, insurance companies who reject arbitration awards aren’t always doing it to be jerks - in 16 out of 19 cases, they did the right thing.

(Howard Zimmerle is a trial lawyer in Rock Island County, Illinois).

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Filed under Illinois Case Law, Negotiations, Quad Cities, Settlements

Statute of Limitations for Minors in Iowa

Typically, an injured person can wait until after they turn 18 to file a lawsuit. There are exceptions, however.

 One exception was made clear today in the case of Rucker vs. Humboldt Community School District. The Iowa Supreme Court held that, when the defendant is a municipality, officer or agent of a municipality, a minor must give “timely notice” of the claim to the municipality or file suit within two years of the accident. If the minor gives “timely notice,” then the statute of limitations doesn’t run until two years after notice was given. Can’t wait until the 18th birthday.

(Howard Zimmerle is an accident attorney practicing in Davenport and Bettendorf Iowa)

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