Thursday, September 5, 2013

How Do Government Employers Pick Their Law Firms?

Right now, it seems, I am suing several separate governmental entities for discrimination,  In fact, I am suing six government departments, federal, state, county and city in both Kansas and Missouri in eight separate lawsuits with with more than twenty separate defendants.  Yikes.

It is interesting to examine who defends these cases.  In some, I am pitted against in-house governmental discrimination lawyers.  However, the trend has always been for these governmental entities to contract with outside law firms, who are usually paid by the hour.  Sometimes, these firms assign multiple partners and associates to cases in which I represent the plaintiff alone.  I wonder how much these lawyers bill the governments of which we are taxpayers and how much the lawyers get paid.  Sometimes, the cases seem overworked, other times not.  Sometimes the best lawyers defend the cases, sometimes newer, recent graduates are at the helm, especially when there are no outside attorneys.

How do lawyers bid on this prime business?   I work on a contingent fee and my work is not affected in the same way defense lawyers' work can be.  I am not looking at immediate pay gratification.  I do not get paid until the end, and sometimes I get paid nothing.

Not so for defense lawyers.  I don't know if bidding wars go on for government business.  I suspect not. Part of my skepticism is because I know in several of my cases that the lawyers for the government held campaign fundraisers at their offices for the largely unopposed candidates that run the governmental division. That sounds somewhat like political patronage to me.  I do not know if these lawyers have to bid for their jobs.  And when some of these firms get hold of the cases, they have a tendency to work them to death.  I have had government cases take seven years or more.  The defense lawyers may bring in quite a chunk in attorneys fees.

I have known long before this blog entry that I will not be getting any of this defense business.  I don't want it.  I have never wanted to wine, dine, hold fundraisers, or make political contributions to get business.  That feels somewhat slimy.  The people who hire me are the ones who we think have good cases.  They don't need to have money.  That is why we have contingent fees.  Representing plaintiffs with good cases feels really good.  Defense work, with its steady paycheck and strings is not for me.

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