Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

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Aeroplane
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Re: Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

Postby Aeroplane » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:28 am

ughOSU wrote:
nycparalegal wrote:Ha, I guess no one else is interested in plaintiff-side law.

You're right, nobody would really want to do this if they knew what it was all about. My friend worked as a paralegal at a plaintiff's firm that did a lot of class action work. He described the job to me as basically a telemarketer. He made hundreds of calls per day to employees and former employees of a certain multinational corporation, asking them if they had been awarded their lunch breaks. His firm was preparing a massive class action lawsuit against the company on behalf of these "wronged" employees who hadn't taken the measly 15 minutes per 8 hours you work. I had actually worked at said company for a short time, and I received a number of his mailings, but I had taken my lunch breaks (like any reasonable person would have), so I couldn't claim any money was owed. This is how many firms operate. Granted, if you were an attorney, you would be a half-step above the telemarketers... more like a manager that leeches off the system rather than a telemarketer, but if that's the kind of thing you're into...

I guess they do serve a purpose, but it's not something I would want to do with my life. For every Erin Brokovich there are probably a million people like my friend.

e: and don't worry about the courtroom... they almost never go to court, and certainly never on a big case.
Eh, I know several people who do plaintiff's law and enjoy it. They're in business for themselves though (not just somebody else's salaried bitch), so that probably has a lot to do with it.

ughOSU
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Re: Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

Postby ughOSU » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:26 am

Aeroplane wrote:
ughOSU wrote:
nycparalegal wrote:Ha, I guess no one else is interested in plaintiff-side law.

You're right, nobody would really want to do this if they knew what it was all about. My friend worked as a paralegal at a plaintiff's firm that did a lot of class action work. He described the job to me as basically a telemarketer. He made hundreds of calls per day to employees and former employees of a certain multinational corporation, asking them if they had been awarded their lunch breaks. His firm was preparing a massive class action lawsuit against the company on behalf of these "wronged" employees who hadn't taken the measly 15 minutes per 8 hours you work. I had actually worked at said company for a short time, and I received a number of his mailings, but I had taken my lunch breaks (like any reasonable person would have), so I couldn't claim any money was owed. This is how many firms operate. Granted, if you were an attorney, you would be a half-step above the telemarketers... more like a manager that leeches off the system rather than a telemarketer, but if that's the kind of thing you're into...

I guess they do serve a purpose, but it's not something I would want to do with my life. For every Erin Brokovich there are probably a million people like my friend.

e: and don't worry about the courtroom... they almost never go to court, and certainly never on a big case.
Eh, I know several people who do plaintiff's law and enjoy it. They're in business for themselves though (not just somebody else's salaried bitch), so that probably has a lot to do with it.

Yea I definetely came on too strong in the beginning and tried to make up for it in the end. Bottom line is that I could never see myself doing it because I see these people primarily as the epitome of the complaint "there are too many lawyers" and as leeches on the economy. But I digress, I was attempting to say that it really just isn't for everyone.

nycparalegal
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Re: Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

Postby nycparalegal » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:53 am

ughOSU wrote:
Yea I definetely came on too strong in the beginning and tried to make up for it in the end. Bottom line is that I could never see myself doing it because I see these people primarily as the epitome of the complaint "there are too many lawyers" and as leeches on the economy. But I digress, I was attempting to say that it really just isn't for everyone.


Yea, I believe in the novel A Civil Action they were considered "bottom-feeders". But, that has to do more with the over-saturated legal market.

The way I see it: You're a business, and you're selling your legal knowledge. The problem is that most people (who don't get into a firm) have to actually created a customer base. So, they cold call looking for work.

ughOSU
Posts: 444
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:42 pm

Re: Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

Postby ughOSU » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:04 pm

nycparalegal wrote:
ughOSU wrote:
Yea I definetely came on too strong in the beginning and tried to make up for it in the end. Bottom line is that I could never see myself doing it because I see these people primarily as the epitome of the complaint "there are too many lawyers" and as leeches on the economy. But I digress, I was attempting to say that it really just isn't for everyone.


Yea, I believe in the novel A Civil Action they were considered "bottom-feeders". But, that has to do more with the over-saturated legal market.

The way I see it: You're a business, and you're selling your legal knowledge. The problem is that most people (who don't get into a firm) have to actually created a customer base. So, they cold call looking for work.

You are a business in that you're selling your legal knowledge. Unfortunately for the country, your legal knowledge (basically the knowledge of some minor technicality you exploit over and over and over again to your benefit) adds precisely jack squat to the value of the economy. You exploit a technicality to make money off of businesses that actually produce a product. Engineering firms are businesses, they make a product and add value to an economy. Small time law firms don't do that. They sell "hey, I'll get you some money if you wear this neck brace". IMO, they also essentially sell an entitlement complex to people. I would bet that a vast majority of the time the things they sue over could easily have been settled by adults being adults rather than children.

Now I'm not saying people shouldn't get paid if they work through their lunch break, and I'm not saying these firms don't have a place, but the number of these firms is disproportionately large in the US, compared to the utility they offer. If you would like to really get wrapped up in plaintiff's side fantasy, you should watch The Rainmaker. Great film.

wired
Posts: 472
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Re: Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

Postby wired » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:38 am

ughOSU wrote:
nycparalegal wrote:
ughOSU wrote:
Yea I definetely came on too strong in the beginning and tried to make up for it in the end. Bottom line is that I could never see myself doing it because I see these people primarily as the epitome of the complaint "there are too many lawyers" and as leeches on the economy. But I digress, I was attempting to say that it really just isn't for everyone.


Yea, I believe in the novel A Civil Action they were considered "bottom-feeders". But, that has to do more with the over-saturated legal market.

The way I see it: You're a business, and you're selling your legal knowledge. The problem is that most people (who don't get into a firm) have to actually created a customer base. So, they cold call looking for work.

You are a business in that you're selling your legal knowledge. Unfortunately for the country, your legal knowledge (basically the knowledge of some minor technicality you exploit over and over and over again to your benefit) adds precisely jack squat to the value of the economy. You exploit a technicality to make money off of businesses that actually produce a product. Engineering firms are businesses, they make a product and add value to an economy. Small time law firms don't do that.


I am wondering where you receive this perception. I assume it is from media exposure to suits where individuals recover large damages. I don't have first-hand knowledge of how many suits there are. I know there are a lot of numbers out there that make it seem like America is a cesspool of lawyers and there are others that show America is pretty much par for the course (meaning countries like Japan and England have similar rates of litigation.)

As for the legal technicality, I would like to know what you are referring to. Usually when people someone won on a "technicality," it means that in their opinion the person should not have won, but because something in the law allowed them to receive damages, the defendant/plaintiff didn't get off free. I prefer to call those, "the law," as opposed to technicalities. If there is some statutory provision (or common law doctrine) that is really letting unharmed individuals exploit the system, it is up to legislators to fix it. Otherwise, I don't see why a lawyer shouldn't help his client use the system in order to recover damages that society has decided he/she deserves.

Final note, the value that these small law firms play is acting as "insurance enforcers." Tort law acts as a sort of insurance for society when an individual undertakes any risky behavior or doesn't meet a reasonable level of care. It is the court systems responsibility to help determine what is the reasonable level of care. If it isn't reasonable, people can't recover for it. In the case of product liability, companies are held strictly responsible because they are the best suited to defuse the cost of insuring against a bad result among all of their customers.

ughOSU
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Re: Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

Postby ughOSU » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:42 am

wired wrote:I am wondering where you receive this perception. I assume it is from media exposure to suits where individuals recover large damages. I don't have first-hand knowledge of how many suits there are. I know there are a lot of numbers out there that make it seem like America is a cesspool of lawyers and there are others that show America is pretty much par for the course (meaning countries like Japan and England have similar rates of litigation.)

As for the legal technicality, I would like to know what you are referring to. Usually when people someone won on a "technicality," it means that in their opinion the person should not have won, but because something in the law allowed them to receive damages, the defendant/plaintiff didn't get off free. I prefer to call those, "the law," as opposed to technicalities. If there is some statutory provision (or common law doctrine) that is really letting unharmed individuals exploit the system, it is up to legislators to fix it. Otherwise, I don't see why a lawyer shouldn't help his client use the system in order to recover damages that society has decided he/she deserves.

Final note, the value that these small law firms play is acting as "insurance enforcers." Tort law acts as a sort of insurance for society when an individual undertakes any risky behavior or doesn't meet a reasonable level of care. It is the court systems responsibility to help determine what is the reasonable level of care. If it isn't reasonable, people can't recover for it. In the case of product liability, companies are held strictly responsible because they are the best suited to defuse the cost of insuring against a bad result among all of their customers.

First, nothing you said in any way refuted my claim that small time plaintiff's firms leech off of companies and extract capital from the market, thus IMO hurting the overall economy.

Second, if you would have quoted the rest of what I wrote, this would have been in there:
ughOSU wrote:Now I'm not saying people shouldn't get paid if they work through their lunch break, and I'm not saying these firms don't have a place, but the number of these firms is disproportionately large in the US, compared to the utility they offer.

You seem to be primarily arguing that these firms have a place and serve a utility in the US, which I freely admitted previously. I am not sure how to respond to that.

Third, no, I did not gain this perception from "media exposure to suits where individuals recover large damages", as you assume. In fact, I think the biggest problem with these suits is not these types of decisions you refer to. Rather, IMO the problem is the opposite, the large class action suits where the so-called "victims" are 20 steps removed from the decision. For example, the actual "victims" in a class action case may win like $20 each and never even see or get a call from their attorney, while the attorney walks away with tens of thousands or more. This is a fact. My personal take on this was gained primarily from talking to my close friend who worked as a paralegal in a class action law firm, from receiving numerous mailings about how I was in some way "victimized" and owed money (who would have known?), the prevailing law suit culture I see at times in the US, and sound macroeconomic logic. Part of my objection to this is completely unquantifyable as well. I think at times the law suit culture affects the way americans think; it breaks down every interaction into there being a "victim" and a "victimizer". It lends itself to an entitlement complex, and diminishes the inherent trust we usually have in one another. Just MHO.

Finally, re: the "technicality" comment, it was more my personal opinion on what would lead me to a fulfilling life. I phrased that poorly, as you point out, in that winning a case on a technicality is different than winning a case based on what the law says. However, I don't fool myself into thinking that all laws are just or that I would be fulfilled exploiting a minor law that was probably some politician's attempt to pander to a certain interest group as my life's work. That just would not lead me to a fulfilling life.

This is as much detail as I can muster for now.

wired
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Re: Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

Postby wired » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:03 pm

ughOSU wrote:First, nothing you said in any way refuted my claim that small time plaintiff's firms leech off of companies and extract capital from the market, thus IMO hurting the overall economy.


I thought my insurance argument addressed that. These firms facilitate insurance. If a company doesn't internalize the expected cost of damages its product or service will incur, then it will overproduce and/or under-price its products. By having a firm there that will litigate even the "nuisance" issues, it means that the company has to internalize its costs.
Second, if you would have quoted the rest of what I wrote, this would have been in there:
ughOSU wrote:Now I'm not saying people shouldn't get paid if they work through their lunch break, and I'm not saying these firms don't have a place, but the number of these firms is disproportionately large in the US, compared to the utility they offer.

You seem to be primarily arguing that these firms have a place and serve a utility in the US, which I freely admitted previously. I am not sure how to respond to that.


I didn't mean to cut the quote in order to strawman your side of the argument. Sorry if it appeared that way.

I don't think that common law is perfectly efficient, but I think it does a roughly good job. If there really weren't any merit in the cases that these lawyers file suit on, then the Courts would be able to expose that. Consequently, the supply of lawyers would go down.

Third, no, I did not gain this perception from "media exposure to suits where individuals recover large damages", as you assume. In fact, I think the biggest problem with these suits is not these types of decisions you refer to. Rather, IMO the problem is the opposite, the large class action suits where the so-called "victims" are 20 steps removed from the decision. For example, the actual "victims" in a class action case may win like $20 each and never even see or get a call from their attorney, while the attorney walks away with tens of thousands or more. This is a fact.


I would have to see some numbers on specific egregious cases in order to really have an opinion on this. I agree that the amount the victims receive compared to the lawyers is bunk.

ughOSU
Posts: 444
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Re: Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

Postby ughOSU » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:29 pm

wired wrote:I thought my insurance argument addressed that. These firms facilitate insurance. If a company doesn't internalize the expected cost of damages its product or service will incur, then it will overproduce and/or under-price its products. By having a firm there that will litigate even the "nuisance" issues, it means that the company has to internalize its costs.

Forcing companies to internalize the costs associated with litigation for what even you call "nuisance" issues drains capital from the company and prevents it from being allocated in an economically efficient way. I hope I've made myself clear on that one, it is an important point. There is a price for having a very litigous society, and I am not convinced that the benefits outweigh the costs, at least not to the extent we have it now.

wired wrote:I don't think that common law is perfectly efficient, but I think it does a roughly good job. If there really weren't any merit in the cases that these lawyers file suit on, then the Courts would be able to expose that. Consequently, the supply of lawyers would go down.

Or, lawyers would sit around cold-calling people trying to drum up "business". This is the real problem, you can always find someone with something like a legal grievance that you can sue for. You'll probably get lucky and/or settle the cases most of the time. I could have sued tons of people in my life, but I never have because I haven't ever really been harmed by someone (at least not by my standards). The same can not be said of many people.

wired wrote:I would have to see some numbers on specific egregious cases in order to really have an opinion on this. I agree that the amount the victims receive compared to the lawyers is bunk.

That wasn't really the point. How much of a victim are you if you didn't even notice you were harmed until a lawyer calls you up asking you to fill out a survey about your lunch breaks for that company you worked at for a couple months? These suits are driven by lawyers who lack something productive to do with themselves in an oversaturated market, not the so-called victims. That's the problem.

e: I just want to note that this has been one of the most interesting conversations I've had on this forum, but I fear that at this point we may just have an ideological disagreement.

wired
Posts: 472
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Re: Anyone else interested in Plaintiff-Side Law?

Postby wired » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:58 pm

e: I just want to note that this has been one of the most interesting conversations I've had on this forum, but I fear that at this point we may just have an ideological disagreement.



+1. I think I understand your side better, but I think you're right: ideological disagreement.

Thanks for the stimulating discussion.




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