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Messages - loki13
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« on: August 16, 2015, 09:09:58 AM »
Woah.... somehow, this thread devolved into the battle of the coprophages.
Anyway, I'll throw in my two cents. Solo practice is always an option after law school. But it it's a lot harder than just needing some gumption and practice manuals. I cannot speak for every jurisdiction, but it's an issue with my (current) state bar and a topic of conversation with local bar ass'n that there just aren't a replenishment of solo practitioners coming out of law school. I would say that ths issue is a little different than, say, 1992.
Next, it will be even harder with the DL option than with in-person, because you're not getting any connections, chances for internships, summer positions, etc., that often lets you learn to practice. What you learn for the bar exam is not what you need to practice.
Then there's the actual practice. As LP wrote, there are practice guides. These can be invaluable. But early on, there are a lot of things you just will not know. Does your court have local rules? What about this particular judge? What are the deadlines that can change... and what can't change? And so on. There's a lot of play in the system, but try to make connections and get some other attorneys who have already climbed that mountain to offer some advice.
Finally, the practicalities of being a solo practitioner involve business .... something many people are unprepared for. The tax issues, setting up client trust accounts, scheduling (and.or hiring an assistant)... all of these small things. Make sure you see if there are resources to help if you chose this route, or you could end up with a client complaint to the Bar early on in your career.
Working as a solo practioner (so I've heard- I'm more of the firm type) can be a wonderfully rewarding experience, allowing you to chart your own destiny. But it will be very difficult to go straight out of law school. If it was easy, then instead of hearing of all of those unemployed attorneys duing the last recession, we would have heard of a lot of solo practitioners.
« on: August 15, 2015, 12:02:15 PM »
I ate Pie-
Again, if you have a better link to national bar averages, that would be great. The original comments, as we discussed, was about jurisdictions other than California.
Next, February traditionally has the lowest bar passage rates. So it doesn't make sense to:
1) Use February bar passage rates; and
2) Use California stats; and
3) Misconstrue the ones you use (First-time Pepperdine takers in Feburary had a 70% rate on that exam- you were looking at the "repeaters" table- IOW, the students who already had failed the exam).
Having taken, and passed, more than one Bar exam (including California), I will reiterate that the problem is not the difficulty of the exam. They are rather trivial to pass, and amount to nothing more than a minor barrier to entry.
« on: August 15, 2015, 09:33:57 AM »
A lot of states were barely above the 50% mark recently. I want to say WV was in the 48% range (I know a few were below coin toss odds)
While I am not sure what you are looking at, I would not recommend using what is likely to be a one-test sample size from one jurisdiction (and likely a February exam). See-http://witnesseth.typepad.com/blog/2013/04/more-on-the-most-difficult-bar-exams.html
I will reiterate- there is no Bar exam so difficult that it is keeping competent attorneys from practicing. Now, if you were arguing about, say, Japan, you might have a better case.
« on: August 14, 2015, 04:10:42 PM »
"I am certain everyone involved in this conversation "can" be doing something more productive, but for whatever reason we seem to enjoy arguing with each other anonymously over the internet."
I find it soothing. I rant here, get it out of my system, and it keeps me from being overly mean in my summary judgment motions.
« on: August 14, 2015, 02:07:27 PM »
I didn't say you were senile. What I have said is that your various claims don't make sense when viewed together. For example, I don't think you understand the difference between net and gross (or you glossed over it). That's one point of distinction that I brought up in the very first response. Then you make statements like "100k was not big money in 1993[.]" (so when you said "six figures," you literally meant 100k?). Just to refresh your recollection- that amount of money, today, is more that $165,000.
So, yes, it is a lot. It's more than the starting salary of a BigLaw associate in a major metropolitan market. Admittedly, no benefits, but that's a lot of money for someone straight out of law school.
Your rates don't make sense (350/hr). Your vague assertions about civil rights cases in your first year don't add up. I have no doubt that you succeeded (it's not like I haven't figured out who you are). I just think you misremembered a few details about your first year of practice. For example, perhaps you worked your butt off, realized money from 1992 into 1993 (so really, 1993's income was for 18 months), didn't think about the full difference between net and gross (even minimal expenses implies some expenses), and so on.
" Point is, a DL grad can be successful and make a living but most likely as a solo."
Sure. It's hard. Especially because law school doesn't do much to teach practice skills. DL, even less so. Congratulations on your success.
« on: August 14, 2015, 01:43:54 PM »
"I think Citylaw knows their stuff, the others, LOL."
Citylaw has a record of being overly optimistic, without a firm basis in what actually happens outside of his experience. I'll leave it at that.
I find some of your claims more interesting. You seem to have changed your claims regarding what you did during your first year as a solo practitioner.
Originally, you claimed that you worked as Conflict PD and in family law cases that other practitioners did not want.
When it was pointed out that these cases were unlikely to support your claimed income, you stated that you worked SSI cases.
When it was pointed out that these cases were unlikely to support your claimed income, you stated that you worked civil rights cases involving prisoners and prison guards.
You've also stated that federal rates (that's the lodestar I've referred to) don't apply to you because, "As for private fees, what a federal court might award is irrelevant."
Except that you've now claimed that also you made your money working SSI and 1983 cases, which are federal cases. Leaving aside the recovery time and difficulty of prisoner 1983 claims, and the fact that correctional officers would be represented by the government or by union attorneys first (not a solo practitioner), *any recovery would be in federal court.*
Look, I understand that this was a long time ago. Maybe you had a little bit of hyperbole. Maybe you meant to say something like, "I worked my behind off, and within the first few years, I was netting six figures." I don't know. Maybe the $350 was inflation adjusted, or you're just extrapolating backwards. But to quote Kagan, have you ever considered just confessing error? You've had a bunch of time to think about it.
« on: August 14, 2015, 12:48:39 PM »
"Go to a small town in California of which there are plenty and you can find lawyers billing $350 an hour."
That's not the issue. I know of many small jurisdictions, in states less wealthy than California, that have attorneys billing $350/hour... or more. Do you know what I don't know about? Solo practitioners, who have just graduated from law school (even a Harvard), charging $350/hour for law that they just picked up from a practice manual.
And this is in 2015. 1992 was 23 years ago. The rates weren't the same. An equivalent rate of $350, based on CPI, was $160 then (($206.50 based only on inflation).
Put another way, his claimed rate of $350, then, is the equivalent of someone today charging $600/hr. You tell me- does this make sense?
I know that you're all, "Anyone can do it, man." But at some point, Citylaw, you have to pay a little bit of attention to what's going on.
« on: August 14, 2015, 12:00:14 PM »
I'm not sure you understand the basis for the criticism, and that article does not support you. You made specific claims (conflict PD and family law). When it was pointed out that those sorts of cases couldn't support your claims, your claims shifted to include SSD and SSDI. When specific evidence about the amounts spent on that was proffered, you then stated, wait for it... "Private fees are negotiated between the parties and unless unconscionable are usually much higher than federal court rates." But wait, SSD and SSDI cases are federal cases.
I have known precisely no attorneys that start out billing $350/hour. None. And this would be in major metro markets that might support higher billing rates- yet you know state you are in a rural market, which would have lower rates. Conflict PD cases are not, and have never been, lucrative (as you should know). You can scrape by a living with it, but not a six figure income. As for civil rights cases (1983 cases) from the prison... um.... in your first year of practice, you were winning 1983 cases, from prisoners, and getting the attorneys fees from those? You know those take a while, right?
As for getting it from the guards- they are represented by a union, and they already have representation (the union attorney and the county attorney). They aren't farming it out to a solo practitioner in their first year if they get hit with a 1983 suit.
I could believe that you worked as a solo practitioner, and that you made a go of it, but you are offering up details that just aren't adding up in my experience. And then you keep adding more details that would appear to contradict your prior details.
« on: August 14, 2015, 11:14:55 AM »
"and try to charge $350 an hour,"
As an FYI, there is also the Laffey Matrix.
In 2006-07, an attorney with 1-3 years of experience should command $151/hour in Sacramento, $209/hour in Los Angeles (useful as a benchmark for lodestar calculation in Federal litigation).
I don't feel like doing the math, but- the same attorney would earn $205/hour in DC (equivalent to LA). In 94-95, an attorney with equivalent experience would expect $151 in DC.
I am finding it difficult to reconcile what I know with some of your statements.
« on: August 14, 2015, 11:01:20 AM »
I have to quibble with a few things. I find it exceptionally hard to believe that a person, straight from Taft Law School and in their first year of practice, was commanding $350/hr in 1992. Perhaps you ... mischarged a client or two. But practitioners in fields quite a bit more lucrative than family law and with 10 years experience get fee reversals for charging $300 an hour.
SSD and SSI cases are time consuming and not very lucrative- they require high volume and take time. I find it relatively difficult to believe that you were seeing quick returns on those in your first year. Moreover, the 9th Cir., even then, was using the lodestar for these claims, and $150/hr for a seasoned practitioner would be a good recovery. See Starr v. Bowen (noting that contingent fee arrangement amounting to $150/hr was acceptable).
I understand that you hustled. I know many people that have hustled and eventually built up a successful practice. I have known precisely no people that have netted six figures in their first year of solo practice in the manner you described.
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