Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Othello and the Practice of Law

Our clients are brave souls. It takes courage to buck the system and sometimes it takes a long time for justice to prevail. In my office, we handle discrimination cases on a contingent fee basis. Our jobs are to zealously represent our clients, which we do. Sometimes we go forth with cases for years, appealing summary judgment decisions, going on to try jury trials, overcoming post-trial motions, only to continue to have to fight the unscrupulous employers who change their names and liquidate their assets in order to evade justice. Sometimes it takes us 6, 7 or more years to get our clients and us paid. Sometimes we lose, and even though we advance all expense, we recoup nothing. Few people in the private sector are willing to work for others and forgo payment for years. We do. That's part of our job. We care about our clients and we work hard fo them. We feel that our mission as lawyers is to eradicate discrimination, but, too, we must pay mortgages, send our children to college and buy groceries. That's why we get paid when the clients get paid.

It is extremely rare for a client to object to this arrangement. After all, the client has no financial obligation whatsoever until we settle or win. We believe in our cases and we gladly advance our money to pay for expenses. We fiercely fight for our clients. We love our clients and at willing to work sometimes for many years on a case with no payment. Rarely, almost never, do we have issues with clients regarding fees and expenses.

It is hurtful to work for a client for years, for no pay, earn a wonderful result from a jury, then have to deal with a dishonest employer trying to hide assets only to have a client listen to a friend or relative who convinces the client that our deal is unfair to thr client I call this the Othello effect. We are the Desdemonas working hard and believing in our Othello clients when, unbeknownst to us slips in a Iago, whispering in Othello's ear that we, Desdemona, are cheating on Othello. How hurtful and disheartening. Othello and Desdemona did
not fare well in Shakespeare's play. I guess Shakespare really was brilliant and we humans are still plagued by the same insecurities and paranoia as in ancient times. How sad.