Monday, May 22, 2017

Tennis Anyone?


  • Cliven Bundy will not get a trial until after the re-trial of his codefendants. [USA Today]
  • The coroner identified the body found encased in concrete at Lake Mead. [RJ]
  • A look at the status of Yucca Mountain. [Las Vegas Sun]
  • Lawyers lost in a tennis match to Doctors to raise money for kids. [eighthjdcourt blog]

38 comments:

  1. I guess these first three blogs are a commentary that there is not much interesting to post on today, or perhaps they are just being clever and/or trying to indicate a lack of interest for the blog in general.

    Although the blog is usually reasonably interesting, they should skip days when there are no real issues of a directly law-related nature.

    And the topics listed today are of no real interest or relevance. Bundy's trial being postponed is not of much interest, and the decades-old Yucca Mountain issue, and it's current status, is more of a general news-related issue, and not really a direct legal community issue of gossipy relevance or capable of generating water cooler discussion. The body at Lake mead is also just a general news issue, and does not raise specific legal issues worthy of discussion among the County Bar.

    And I don't give a tinker's damn that some physicians beat some lawyers in a tennis match, because I don't lay tennis and I don't tend to hang out with doctors and lawyers. And those lawyers who played tennis with other lawyers are simply keeping alive some law school clique mentality that was of some social comfort in law school among young students, but should dissipate upon graduation in the real world.

    So, none of the topics listed will generate legal blog gossip.

    I do have to clarify my point about not hanging out with lawyers. I always have interacted with them to a meaningful extent--but it chiefly consists of chatting with them to make the time pass(swapping war stories, and bitching about the underhanded tactics of other attorneys) while in the hallway waiting for cases to be heard, while the judge is really behind on calendar.

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  2. This person, at 1:40, sounds a little cynical, but I do agree with most of his/her observations.

    However, I would point out that the tennis match was to raise money for a worthy cause, so it was not simply some physicians beating some lawyers in a tennis match(which, admittedly, would only be of interest to those who were playing).

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  3. I have a question for the peanut gallery here. I've been out of law school 10 years now. I went out on my own about 5 years ago and I've been reasonably successful. I make about $175-$250k/year depending on the year.

    This year I have a personal injury case that will almost certainly settle in the $2-4 million range. I'm not counting on that settlement for operating expenses so it's essentially all profit.

    So here's the question, if you're in the first 1/3rd of your career and you have a million dollars to do anything you want with, what do you do? Reinvest it into your law practice? Put it in the market and hope to retire early? Buy a side business to develop another stream of income? Buy a commercial building? Blow it on a Bugatti? I'd like to hear your suggestions.

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    1. Read "the intelligent investor" by Benjamin Graham and anything written by Warren Buffett on investing. Your 50 year-old self will thank you.

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    2. Take the staff on a vacation. Save the rest.

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    3. Calculate your anticipated tax liabilities (it will affect far more in your taxes than you would expect) and set aside those funds in a vehicle that is liquid and not subject to market forces. Taxes will be due far sooner than you expect, and you don't want any unpleasant surprises.

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    4. There was a well known plaintiff's attorney who settled several million dollar cases where the fees were substantial. I met his financial adviser who sheltered the income with direct payment in annuities just like a structured settlement in a personal injury case. The attorney is now living off those annuities and is happily retired living in Columbia.
      If you were interested respond back and I can tell you the name of his financial adviser. You are essentially locking away the money with different type of annuities that guarantee payments. I was skeptical till I realized it made sense. If you are not interested in that I would park the money and pick a number of mutual funds and laddered safe investments.

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    5. These are more popular now. They used to have onerous restrictions, but now you can have the fees deferred and placed with your normal portfolio investments. The great thing is you don't pay taxes on the gains from the initial investment. I do this with 25% of all fees on n cases 500k or higher. Depending on your portfolio you can buy property, stocks, bonds, and anything else you normally by. Counsel financial has the best structure for it, but again your money man will manage it.

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    6. This is a great question, and I was in a similar situation several years ago. 4:16 nailed it, taxes are going to be a much bigger issue than you can imagine. I vehemetly disagree with the annuity idea (huge fees, no flexibility) I ended up finding a investment that was unrelated to the law that provides a steady income stream. It evens out the ebbs an flow of your practice.

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    7. Pay taxes and put rest into exempt assets and your business. Buy the spouse a fancy vacation, too.

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  4. At 2:16. First, congrats (in advance). That is awesome if you get the $1M. Second, I think it is like gambling - only bet as much as you are willing to lose. If your goal is to get out of this wretched profession at a reasonable age, then save the million bucks. If you are okay with gambling on an office building or another side business, then let it roll ...

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  5. Assuming you are in your 30's, I would invest it. You will reach retirement much sooner if you do.

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  6. I tend to be conservative about such matters.

    First, it helps to put a little in reserve for operating expenses, even if you currently don't believe you need to.

    And then the lion's share of it, in my view, should be banked, or a combination of banking part and investing the rest.

    So, saving the money will, in the long-run, lead to far more happiness(and a million times more security)than purchasing a sports car(or some similar purchase) that you are no longer in love with a few years from now, and trade it in for a fraction of it's purchase cost.

    Part of the reason(presumably) that you practice is not just so you can live well now, but so that you don't necessarily have to practice at 70 and beyond just to meet your monthly business and personal overhead. If you invest, then by the time you are in your early 50's(or even earlier in some cases) you can be set for life, and only practice to the extent you still want to, if at all.

    Don't always assume that every year or two you will have a case that you clear a million attorney fees from. No matter how good a lawyer you are, there is also the element of luck(e.g. will you always attract such cases or will they go to firms with more established names?). You may never have another case where you clear a million in attorney fees, or you may have several(or, even many) more. Point is, we don't yet know.

    So, if you want to be a long-term success, act like it. I doubt Eglet spent the first million dollar case fee he received on a luxury item. Once he had several such settlements, I presume he might have splurged--but I doubt he did with the very first settlement or verdict that resulted in a million + in attorney fees.

    So, your million dollar attorney fees case may or may not be a harbinger for the future. I know some lawyers who had such a case early in their career, and didn't tend to repeat it.

    So, perhaps you should phone somewhat like Eglet, or someone else highly successful, and ask them what they did with their first cases which netted over a million in attorney fees. And then follow such advice.

    Also, your case hasn't settled, and is a long way from doing so. Some highly esteemed trial lawyers have indicated that a good rule of thumb is that whatever you think you will receive on a case in terms of a settlement or jury verdict, cut that amount in half and that more closely reflects reality. Also, whatever you think your out-of-pocket costs will be(and they will be considerable on a case of that expected value) you can multiple that by about 3, and that is a more realistic outlay of costs.

    Also, you clearly never had a case of remotely this magnitude and therefore have no real track record, reputation, or name-recognition with the adjusters and defense attorneys who are supposed to be giving you this 2 to 4 million. And if they therefore low ball you to the point(which they will) you will be forced to proceed to trial, it does not seem you have this level of trial experience.

    So, tread lightly young man(or young woman). Delighted for your success but be careful, presume nothing, and don't count your chickens. Contact an excellent trial attorney and get his/her assessment.

    Remember, most civil actions in the county still result in defense verdicts(even ones where liability seemed pretty clear). And in the case where Plaintiffs prevail, a lot of the time the verdict does not exceed the Defense's offer of judgment.


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    1. Buy your staff a Bugatti.

      I jest, but only a bit. One thing to remember about a windfall is that it's relative. Depending on the size of your staff, you could probably afford to bonus several of them two-months salary without putting a serious dent in your windfall or investment.

      I've hear many stories of ostentatious bonuses and gifts to employees from PI firms after a big settlement and putting myself in that lawyer's shoes I'd worry about what kind of expectation I'm setting. But for employees making 30-50k, a couple months of salary wouldn't cost a lot and for motivated employees a bump like that out of the blue can make a life-changing difference.

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    2. Hookers, blow and gambling. Best investment there is.

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    3. Warren Buffet has gone on record as saying to invest in a low cost mutual fund, I believe he recommends Vanguard. Says you should expect to do better investing there than putting in hedge funds and/or other higher expected yield vehicles.

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    4. That is not what buffet says. Low cost index fund is what he says along with other investing studs like Ray Dalio. In fact, mutual funds have on average 3% in fees (2% are hidden), so if you get 8% return, 3% is eaten up in fees.

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    5. Buffet said a low cost index fund or a exchange traded fund. @ 5:06 just doesn't know the difference. Try VYM, which should have between 7-9% returns with dividends reinvested at a cost of 0.09%.

      Speaking of hidden fees, I love how Trump supporters don't understand why striking down the fiduciary rule was bad for investors. The hidden fees are now super hidden and your financial advisor can steer you towards investments that have high management fees, still take his 1% commission, and take a referral fee. Whee!

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  7. When I hit my first big dollar settlement, I took the check to the financial advisor who I trust and gave him the money. He is in another city in another state not on speed dial. Told him to conservatively invest the money (mutuals) and leave me alone and help me to leave the money alone. I told him to put an "In Case of Emergency, break glass" sign on the money so that I would only touch it if the rainy days became a monsoon. But largely I don't think about the money because money you think about is money you spend in my experience. I drive a 12 year old car. I live in a 14 year old house.

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    1. Let us hope your money is not in a bunch of g-strings from here to Alaska.

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  8. Rules, shmules.
    http://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/government/two-top-staffers-in-nevada-attorney-generals-office-ordered-to-take-the-bar-exam-in-july/

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  9. So I am a middle aged insurance defense attorney and I make $65,000 a year, but I do get a subscription to jelly-of-the-month as a bonus each year, so I am super stoked about that. I have this new case against this youngblood who fancies himself a big up and comer. He has this slip-and-fall case where his client has received 45 epidural injections, 17 rhizotomies, 412 hours of chiropractic care, and is recommended for a four-level surgical fusion and his hedonics expert claims that the value of his life has been diminished by 50% based on the cost of carbon monoxide detectors at K-Mart. The Plaintiff's answers to interrogatories state that the week before his last injection, he was in such excruciating pain that he couldn't move or get out of bed. The attorney keeps talking about how the case is going to settle in the two to four million range and how he is going to buy a Bugatti. He's supes excited about the case. I am deposing his client next month. What are the discovery commissioner's latest rulings about disclosing the sub rosa surveillance I have of his client doing 720s on the half pipe at Mammoth, playing bass guitar in a heavy metal band, and skydiving all in the same day. Do I have to disclose that now or after the deposition? Oh, and I suppose that since my requests for production are due, I should probably turn over the surveillance footage of the giant neon flashing sign my custodians put over the location of the fall which said "Don't walk here if you want to live", which the Plaintiff walked up to and rubbed before walking into the neon green slurpee spill, right? Thanks in advance!

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    1. Go shite ye' self.

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    2. Why you got to steal the guys Bugatti. Throw him a bone. I bet you still pay 7 figures to settle though.

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    3. Ha ha 65,000.

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  10. Question for the peanut gallery...

    Let's say you're in your late 30s, married with kids. You have the choice between a legal job with a great boss, interesting work, home by 5:30, etc. ... OR ... a grinding job where your bosses suck, and you're working late most nights and on weekends. Is there some amount of money that would convince you to take the second job or the first? How much?

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    1. *second OVER the first

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    2. At least $50,000.00/year more.

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    3. Don't do it. Family first...they remember. That firm will burn you out.

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    4. I actually had this exact situation come to me early on in my career. I was at a decent firm, making enough to pay the bills but nowhere near what I thought I should be paid as an attorney. I got offered a job making $24k more per year, which at the time seemed like a TON of money. I jumped ship and worked my butt off for two years until I burned out and got tired of not seeing my family. I ended up going to work for a small firm and took a pay cut, but my work-life balance was much better and I was much happier because of it.

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    5. Ditto 8:59. The grinding job will turn you into a bitter lawyer, frustrated that you're working your ass off, only to be stuck in the office on nights and weekends working for bosses who couldn't care less about you or your professional development and who are just waiting for you to quit so they can fill your office with the next young lawyer willing to sacrifice their quality of life for the bullshit carrot of "partnership," which will dangle ever out of reach until they, too, either quit, or are pulled aside to be made Of Counsel or a non-equity partner. Because the ones at the top sure aren't giving up their profits.

      Or you can take a little less pay, be there for your family when they need you, and actually enjoy the practice of law.

      Now, is there some amount of money that might convince you to take the second job? Sure. Probably between 2x and 3x the first job's salary. Seeing as one year with firm two will take 3 years off your life because of stress, sleep deprivation, and never having the feeling of actually leaving the office, and also because it would only be a temporary job. I'd never place my career in an office where my very soul was sucked out, day, after day, after day, and where the joy of living is slowly crushed in 0.1 increments. Life is too short.

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    6. I cry. My life told through the life of others. Peace be with you.

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  11. Can you survive, live decently, and save for an enjoyable retirement in the first job? If so, then do that. Time is the one thing you can't get any more of. Spending more time at a place you hate to make more money to give a better quality of life to kids who will resent you for never being there? That's a sucker's play.

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    1. Agree with many of the above comments. I have faced a similar situation. I had to stay at the soul-sucking firm because the offer at the job I wanted was too low for me to be able to save what I wanted for retirement. It was a government job with a pension. The cost of inflation would likely have made the pension unsustainable as the sole source of income, and because of the low salary, I wouldn't have been able to save much extra. After going through that experience of turning down a job offer I really wanted to take, I learned to appreciate my current job and salary more because I know what else is out there and it wasn't what I could afford to live on. Long story short, take work/life balance but only if it's practical financially.

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