The Devil’s Own
Most of us plug through our Work-A-Day lives at roughly (very roughly) 8 hours a day – 50 weeks a year – 2000 work hours more or less. Probably less if we count the time goofing off, day dreaming, or surfing the Internet while on the clock. But our unearned gains for wasted hours can’t hold a candle to the Grand Champions of “less work for more pay” – the omnipresent legal profession.
Cincinnati bankruptcy attorney Winston Samuels was indicted in federal court on 16 counts of billing fraud. Among other offenses, he billed 90 hours in one day. In a thirteen-month period Samuels billed just over 12,900 hours; even though the maximum total time available, calculated hour by hour at 24/7, comes up to 9464 hours. Yet Samuel’s trial resulted in a hung jury. His defense: “everybody does it”. He eventually pled guilty to one count and was sentenced to 15 months. The extra phony 11,000 hours he had billed at his normal rate of $300 per hour. Those extra hours came to $3,300,000, or if you want to look at it another way, $183,000 per month while in prison. Not bad wages while doing time. He also continued to bill clients from Jail while supposedly working on their cases.
James Harrison, a legal practices expert, believes that attorneys can ethically “multi-task,” by billing two, three or more clients for the same hour, or bill for the “value” of their services, even when that value vastly exceeds the time the work actually takes. Lawyers like Samuels will continue to be the inevitable consequence. Seven out of eight practicing lawyers said that it was ethical to bill full retail hours to a client for “recycled” work originally done for another client. Half said they had billed two or more different clients for work performed during the same time period, such as dictating a memo for one client while traveling for another.
Given this sulphurous climate in which most lawyers operate, what happens to us when the sting of a legal wrangle appears on the horizon. We experience shortness of breath, stress in the muscles and organs, depression, languor in the limbs and projectile vomiting as a start. The thought of having to find a competent lawyer, (okay, that’s an oxymoron), answer service and interrogatories, and then show up for court is enough to bring thoughts of ending it all. Especially if you have been through legal wrestling before – knowing that the process can be endless, astonishingly expensive, unjust, and almost always unfulfilling. Knowing the pressure and anxiety their clients are under, the legal Uriah Heaps lick their lips and rub their hands as they gaze at fees never ending.
Have you really ever wondered where Lawyers really come from? Let me tell you. About one third of the Host of Heaven followed Satan as he was cast out of Heaven and established Hell. These one third were, of course, primarily Lawyers with a few Politicians and Porn Producers tossed in to add integrity. You’ll occasionally hear one of them claim (when caught doing something blatantly illegal) “the devil made me do it.
We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. The Hike, the Alter, the Knife, the almost Sacrifice, God, the Ram and Isaac’s escape. Here is what really happened. In reality, Isaac was headed for Law School. So the Lord had no choice but to put him under the knife. However Abraham begged God, pleaded with him that Isaac could be sent to the Tentmaker’s Guild, and the Lord relented. However he did require Abraham to find a lawyer-like sacrifice, something horned, thrashing about, noisily creating a disturbance.
So, how many of these Dark Arts practitioners wander among us? By the year end there will be about 1,350,000 loose on the public. Almost one for every 226 people, or one for every 140 if you knock out everyone below 16. It seems as if they are everywhere, multiplying like cockroaches and just as hard to eliminate – braying their wares nonstop on TV, Radio and in Print. “Tort Reform” to an attorney means more cream on the cream puffs at the local bakery. Same with limiting contingency awards.
Why would they want to reform a system where 40% goes to the attorney, plus expenses. Five Hundred Thirty-Five members wile away their time in Congress, 228 are lawyers – which explains a lot of the problems in our country. State legislatures have about the same percentage – 40 plus percent hold a law degree – apparently a ticket to the public trough if they can’t make a living in real legal life.
There are so many things wrong with a being an attorney that it is hard to find a place to start, or to stop. Probably the old Joke – “Only two kinds of people in the world, lawyers and those who hate them” explains a lot. I guess we can start with the Savior’s description in Luke 11:46 – “Woe unto you also, ye lawyers, for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne”. Shakespeare was a bit less generous in Henry the Sixth – “the First Thing We Do, Lets Kill All The Lawyers”. Probably not possible, since they would be sent to back hell immediately and recycled.
Lets just tick off a few of the main complaints about attorneys.
1. They write on a legal pad in an undecipherable scrawl as you explain your problem , but no matter, they have no intention of ever looking at these notes again anyway.
2. Never return phone calls unless they think that their initial retainer can be added upon. Pro Bono, they think the term meant a vote for Sonny Bono when he ran for Mayor of Palm Springs.
3. Bill for all thoughts about your case in five-minute increments – including bathroom breaks, getting a drink, lunch and talking to their spouse and rethinking past billing successes.
4. Always send a bill for services rendered in the most general of term, such as “consultation”. Round up each five minutes to the nearest half-day. $10 for a fax $5 for a copy, bill newly minted law school graduates out at $200 an hour while paying them $50. That is until they pass the bar, and then it goes to $300.
5. Claim to be an expert in all areas of the law from Will Preparation to Capital Punishment. In reality only the paralegals have any idea of what is going on.
6. Be rational or reasonable, why would they be? There is no incentive to settle any dispute because at that point all income stops. Unsupervised except by their own standard of ethics. If losing, delay everything to prolong fees, if winning, delay everything to prolong fees.
7. Act like the opposing attorney is their worst enemy until the case is over, when you realize they are backslapping brothers under the same horns and delight in telling each other stories about the foolishness of their clients.
8. Members of the Bar, a group that supervises each other like the Wolfman would supervise Dracula.
9. Everyone is entitled to a defense, regardless of being a serial killer, child molester, sexual predator – unless they have no retainer. Ever try to find an attorney that will sue another brother deviate?
10. Retire as a judge where they work at most 4 hours a day, have no idea what the case is about, take two hour lunches, and threaten everyone with contempt.
But there are a few Rays of Sunshine that touch the Devil’s Own.
About seven percent of Americans are alcoholics. In contrast, about 13 percent of lawyers surveyed by the ABA said they drink six or more alcoholic beverages a day. One third of lawyers on disciplinary probation in California are monitored for substance abuse. Suicide among male lawyers is approximately two times more likely than among men in the general population. Eleven percent of all lawyers think about taking their own life at least once a month. No doubt wanting an early return to the mother ship.
In a study of 105 professions, lawyer’s ranked number one in the incidence of depression, anxiety and paranoia – I should think so based on the guilt they must feel every day. By their own admission, 68 percent admit to being unindited felons, 78 percent get divorced, 91 percent have no relationship with their children and 100 percent are friendless at death. Okay, so I made up those last four percentages, but like puffed billing hours, its acceptable.
So what to do with these parasites on the good citizens of the world? Burn down all the law schools, pass seasonal hunting periods where they can be pursued with sharpened soul killing stakes, grind them up for compost? None of these are morally acceptable, (unless you are a lawyer) so the best idea is to bury them deep, deep down, preferably in an active volcano and hope that the recycling process is elongated so they won’t get their next law degree for 25 years. I, myself favor the elimination of all law schools – the buildings could be turned into something useful – medical marijuana hot houses, testing of large nuclear devices or recovery centers for mangy dogs.
Is all this tirade just tongue and cheek? Poking a little fun at a profession rated somewhat lower than Used Car Salesmen, Freeway Entrance Beggars, Kindergarten Drug Dealers, and HIV Transvestite Prostitutes. Well somewhat, because there actually are a few attorneys with conscience, integrity and hatred for their own profession. But those are the rare exception; so the answer must remain, not really a spoof; not if you have fallen into the maw of the legal system, had to deal with an attorney and felt like you have been dragged Ass Backward upstream the length of the Grand Canyon by the time the experience is finally over.
Like the flu, traffic, prostate cancer, and politicians, they are just to be avoided and endured – hoping for as little contact as possible. And as Mother Teresa advised us, (and I’m sure she was referring to lawyers). “Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything”. I’m sure the Lord has some interesting plan for the “Devil’s Own” and will explain in due time while they are here along with rattlesnakes, millipedes, and naked mole rats . I’ll welcome that day.