Lawyers for the Middle Class

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gwuorbust
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Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby gwuorbust » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:02 pm

Current legal costs often exceed $400 for bigfirms and $200 for even small and midsized firms. Even the smallest firms rarely change less than $100. Most middle class Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. They cannot afford 20 hours of legal work for the mold in their home at a cost of $150 per hour. where are they going to come up with $3,000?

On the other hand we have lawyers literally working for free, fleeing the country or diving into more education because they have no other options. seriously. wtf?

There has to be a middle ground. A significant amount of middle class Americans do not qualify for pro-bono legal services, which are already overwhelmed anyways and are only available in some areas. What is necessary are affordable legal services for middle class Americans. This would also provide jerbs to the thousands of unemployed graduates. I didn't write the article below, but I think it provides some good insight.

More Info

my fav quote (though it is from 1996, so kinda oldish):
the University of Maryland Law School, conducted a legal needs survey which found that "72 percent of Maryland's middle-class citizens... no longer contact a lawyer when faced with a legal problem"


EDIT: posted in employment section because I want to use this thread for TLSers to brainstorm on where/how these jobs could be found or created.

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kalvano
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby kalvano » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:52 pm

Charge flat fees for simple things, and a lower hourly rate for others. Most attorneys charge $200 an hour because it's the going rate. But middle-class people tend to have fair-to-moderately simple legal problems that aren't difficult. You can easily cover expenses and make a nice living without charging $200 an hour.

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Verity
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby Verity » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:02 pm

kalvano wrote:Charge flat fees for simple things, and a lower hourly rate for others. Most attorneys charge $200 an hour because it's the going rate. But middle-class people tend to have fair-to-moderately simple legal problems that aren't difficult. You can easily cover expenses and make a nice living without charging $200 an hour.



This reminds me of a case in Sierra Leone, where local politicians imposed minimum wage laws that priced workers out of the market because they didn't want their country to become the "sweatshop for the West." The classical argument is higher unemployment + a floor on wages, versus lower unemployment + no floor on wages.

My belief is that the last thing we need to do is encourage more people to join this absurdly saturated profession with pipedreams of "middle class lawyering" that caters to a basically imaginary market, lowering general rates in the process.
Last edited by Verity on Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:13 pm

Yes you can charge between $150-$200 an hour, and if you are good, you will get a lot of middle class folks using your services. You just need some good marketing to get the word out.

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Veyron
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby Veyron » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:14 pm

gwuorbust wrote:Current legal costs often exceed $400 for bigfirms and $200 for even small and midsized firms. Even the smallest firms rarely change less than $100. Most middle class Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. They cannot afford 20 hours of legal work for the mold in their home at a cost of $150 per hour. where are they going to come up with $3,000?

On the other hand we have lawyers literally working for free, fleeing the country or diving into more education because they have no other options. seriously. wtf?

There has to be a middle ground. A significant amount of middle class Americans do not qualify for pro-bono legal services, which are already overwhelmed anyways and are only available in some areas. What is necessary are affordable legal services for middle class Americans. This would also provide jerbs to the thousands of unemployed graduates. I didn't write the article below, but I think it provides some good insight.

More Info

my fav quote (though it is from 1996, so kinda oldish):
the University of Maryland Law School, conducted a legal needs survey which found that "72 percent of Maryland's middle-class citizens... no longer contact a lawyer when faced with a legal problem"


EDIT: posted in employment section because I want to use this thread for TLSers to brainstorm on where/how these jobs could be found or created.


Ummmmm, contingency bro?

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gwuorbust
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby gwuorbust » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:48 pm

Veyron wrote:
Ummmmm, contingency bro?


contingency only works where there is enough damages for taking the case to be logical under a cost/benefit analysis. plus, a lot of things aren't done on contingency. people using legalzoom are asking for trouble. Many, and I would go so far as to say most, small businesses never have their contracts read by a lawyer. middle class Americans have been largely been priced out of the market.


the point of this thread was not to encourage "pipedreams of "middle class lawyering."" I think many schools need to be shut down. but for all the lawyers and law students already in the profession, there needs to be an alternative. and maybe that is just marketing + a shit ton of flat fee cases.

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Borhas
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby Borhas » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:52 pm

legal zoom

MrAnon
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby MrAnon » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:12 pm

Middle class americans needs lawyers maybe once or twice a lifetime. Your approach is completely off.

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IAFG
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby IAFG » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:13 pm

Middle class? What middle class?

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AreJay711
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:16 pm

1) Structure a payment plan with 12% interest + CPI inflation.
2) Charge $200 and hour and get a baller investment
3) ???
4) Profit

People will pay if they have too and most people COULD scrounge up the money for a lawyer if they had time by cutting on other things but don't do that ahead of time because it is pretty unlikely that you will need a lawyer.

BeenDidThat
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby BeenDidThat » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:53 pm

MrAnon wrote:Middle class americans needs lawyers maybe once or twice a lifetime. Your approach is completely off.


Most misinformed post ever? I think we've got a candidate.

For the record, family members of mine are attorneys for the "middle class", or were earlier in their careers. When they worked for those folks, they made low 6-figures. The trick is that most atty's will run off to the better pay when they can, leaving those with less experience to care for the middle class.

And IAFG's comment is on point. We don't have a middle class like we used to. We have the superrich, the professionals who care for their money, a working class that does things with tangible objects, and a large pool of folks struggling to get by on whatever they can.

But that's besides the point. I assume you are referring to the working class.

I do think it's an exploitable market. I know some atty's do flat fee work, which I think makes a whole lot of sense from the client's perspective. If I only have 10 grand in the bank, trying to save so my kid can go to the local state school in five years, I can't have an open-ended $150-200/hr deal with a lawyer. I need to know that I can pay you two grand, you will handle my biz to the best of your ability, and I can move on with whatever the outcome is. There are also lots of problems with shady and/or incompetent lawyers at this level, which creates problems for the more honest ones.

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A'nold
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby A'nold » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:08 pm

A professor in a solo practice class I took advised against trying to stand out from the pack by being "the discount lawyer" fwiw. Although, I will say that flat fees are becoming more popular and do have the effect of attracting more middle class peeps.

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GeePee
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby GeePee » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:39 pm

BeenDidThat wrote:
MrAnon wrote:Middle class americans needs lawyers maybe once or twice a lifetime. Your approach is completely off.


Most misinformed post ever? I think we've got a candidate.

For the record, family members of mine are attorneys for the "middle class", or were earlier in their careers. When they worked for those folks, they made low 6-figures. The trick is that most atty's will run off to the better pay when they can, leaving those with less experience to care for the middle class.

And IAFG's comment is on point. We don't have a middle class like we used to. We have the superrich, the professionals who care for their money, a working class that does things with tangible objects, and a large pool of folks struggling to get by on whatever they can.

But that's besides the point. I assume you are referring to the working class.

I do think it's an exploitable market. I know some atty's do flat fee work, which I think makes a whole lot of sense from the client's perspective. If I only have 10 grand in the bank, trying to save so my kid can go to the local state school in five years, I can't have an open-ended $150-200/hr deal with a lawyer. I need to know that I can pay you two grand, you will handle my biz to the best of your ability, and I can move on with whatever the outcome is. There are also lots of problems with shady and/or incompetent lawyers at this level, which creates problems for the more honest ones.

His post is likely exaggerated, but there is truth beneath the hyperbolic exterior. It's difficult to establish a consistent business flow at this level because there are so few repeat players. This isn't like becoming a small-shop CPA where you can count on individuals and small businesses doing their taxes every year -- people need lawyers sporadically.

Many lawyers that do this kind of work only are able to make a decent living because of legal services organizations or similar organizations granting referrals; I can't imagine how it works elsewhere. This type of business model would need to be heavily entrenched in a particular community and would need to develop some sort of heroic reputation, or else I can't really see it working.

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A'nold
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Re: Lawyers for the Middle Class

Postby A'nold » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:44 pm

Craigslist man. Post like the obnoxious used car salesmen that slightly change their ads on the same cars all day long.




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