NOW I'm Going To Hit The Big Time!

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40 Responses

  1. KRM says:

    C'mon, Ken! There have got to be at least 20,000 attorneys in the City of Angels, but only you (and 95 others) were selected to receive information about this important legal opportunity.

    I wish I was special, too.

  2. Dan Weber says:

    It looks like some lawyers say Stack Overflow and decided to replicate the very worst parts of it for their own profession.

  3. ZK says:

    I have to say, I'm actually pretty interested in a Ken-White-Level Analysis of this weighty legal issue.

    Consider, in the alternate, what if the Questioner didn't just cover the car, but disguised it as another object which didn't require registration? What if he disguised it as, for example, a pony?

  4. Ygolonac says:

    They ticket you for unregistered if it's only parked? That's the impression I'm getting here…

  5. I was really expecting a Classmates.com kind of pitch after your lead-in.


    A client is looking for you! His case details: "I have too much money to store and my landlord is complaining about the walls and floors being damaged! I am literally BURIED IN MONEY and there is nothing in my lease agreement about damage caused to the premises by too much money. Please help, Unknown Prospective Internet Attorney. You're my only hope."

    That's how you catch lawyers with mass e-mail.

  6. Walter says:

    What if they emailed the details of the case to someone who ends up becoming opposing counsel?

  7. Sigmadog says:

    CAR FOR SALE: Great deal! Must be seen to be believed! Parked in front of Ed's Sock Galaxy, across the street from Fork Emporium (slogan: "We Love You Long Tine!"). Color is brown with pink-slip accents. Can be yours for a song and a payoff to The Man. Hurry! The price will only go up.

  8. LauraW says:

    @Ygolonac: It's much easier to ticket parked cars, you see.

    I once let my registration lapse by accident in California. The "fix-it"ticket for that was for a whopping ten bucks plus proof of updated registration. (Plus embarrassment: uh, officer, I, um, forgot.)

    @ZK: that would be alarge pony. Scary!

  9. Doug says:

    AVVO seems to be for aimed at those who don't wish to look for clients the old fashioned way, chasing ambulances.

  10. dave says:

    In case anyone's interested, a car cover would not work, at least not in MN. I actually got ticketed for having my motorcycle covered and not leaving the license plate visible .. despite having a valid registration sticker on the plate. The cool thing was that in order to place the ticket on the bike, the officer needed to lift the cover off the back of the bike, where the license plate is.

  11. AlphaCentauri says:

    The difference between an urban street and a rural front yard is that you can't leave junk heaps parked there indefinitely. If it isn't worth registering, your neighbors want to park there.

  12. Surely here's a market for world-war-II-surplus inflatable dummy tanks…"so, officer, what ARE the registration requirements for Sherman II's? They are offroad vehicles, with fewer than 3 tyres, right?"

  13. Cat says:

    YMMV, but depending on the state yes you can be ticketed even if your car is parked. Or parked out of sight, even. Or covered.
    Example – FL requires any car that could conceivably be drivable to be registered and insured at all times. (There are few exceptions – most of which involve "car has no engine, is waiting to be crushed" in some form.) It has to be registered because it's a vehicle. It must be insured because someone (not necessarily you) could steal it and hit someone or someone's car with it. Or so I'm given to understand – and if it's their too long, eventually a wrecker may come along and put it into an impound lot.

    Which is vaguelly irrelevant, because I don't see where there is even a case. Can you sue someone for, or expect to win as defense, in a case where someone is factually in the wrong no matter the reason?

    And isn't Avvo doing a disservice by ignoring the most widely given and trusted advice for locating a lawyer, which is to ignore advertising and seek out the opinions of friends or business associates? Because I'll tell you… when I think "quality legal representation" I immediately think I need a website. Something better than Craigslist (Prenda gets lawyers from there) but not quite aspiring to be a LegalZoom maybe…

  14. Wil Hutton says:

    @LauraW while not prohibitively expensive, I think in southern CA that is no longer the case. Fix-it tickets are now $25, and other fees – from the law enforcement agency charging a fee to sign off the ticket to night court fees, dismissal fees, security fees and "a fee for making us write you a ticket fee" they can easily reach $100-$150.

  15. Rich Rostrom says:

    Michael Donnelly • Jul 1, 2013 @8:34 am:

    "I have too much money to store and my landlord is complaining about the walls and floors being damaged! I am literally BURIED IN MONEY…"

    Signed, Scrooge McDuck.

  16. Ygolonac says:

    AlphaCentauri : "The difference between an urban street and a rural front yard is that you can't leave junk heaps parked there indefinitely."

    That's some fine exercise in jumping to conclusions there… considering there's no description of the vehicle and/or location.

    Speaking of CA registration: someone told me that a vehicle that hadn't been kept current would have to have *all* previous reg fees paid off before it could be rereg'd, even if it was sold to another person? Because that would utterly suck in the case of the not-quite-mythical "barn find".

  17. Erik H. says:

    I like to post on Avvo Answers occasionally (usually while I'm drinking my morning coffee.) It's basically a public service kind of thing, in my view. I prefer to answer consumer law or process questions which have a straightforward answer–usually it takes laypeople tons of time to find out, and usually I can help them in about 20 seconds. Frankly, most of my answers end with "call an attorney" though there are a few which are direct on their own.

    "No, your landlord can't keep your security deposit. Here's a link to a tenants handbook. Call an attorney ASAP."

    "No, your employer can't refuse to pay you overtime. Call an employment attorney ASAP."

    "Yes, you might have a claim for damages. Call an attorney ASAP."

    "The small claims limit is $7000. Here's a link to the court's website."

    "The appeals period is 20 days. If you miss it you're in trouble. Call an attorney immediately, as in 'right now' or you may miss your deadline."

    "Since you say that have an attorney, you should ask your attorney. If you trust Internet strangers more than your attorney, you need a new attorney."

    And so on.

    I'm crazy I know, but I think it's sort of fun. And although I hate to be cynical: if you're having a shitty day there's nothing like reading Avvo Answers to make you feel better about your life!

    I don't get much work from Avvo, but I get some. I think I got two cases last year totaling ~$15k in fees, for which I probably put in 10 hours of answering questions. It was certainly worth it for me, though that's mostly because I would be answering questions anyway.

    I wouldn't recommend Avvo at all, unless you have that same public service approach–it would be an annoying experience and far too much work if you were just in it for marketing.

  18. Windypundit says:

    Some areas use part-time attorneys as prosecutors, often defense lawyers from other courts. So what a potential client writes about a case could literally end up emailed to a defense lawyer who happens to be prosecuting it.

  19. James Pollock says:

    Just because no-registration guy doesn't have any money now doesn't mean he never will. If you do a good job representing him, he'll remember you when his need for, and ability to pay for, legal services increases. Also, he might have friends and associates who do, in fact, have money to pay for the legal services they require.
    Think long-term instead of short-term.

  20. AlphaCentauri says:

    I'm surprised that advice forum hasn't turned into the legal version of Cosmo letters to the editor. I can totally picture drunk college students making up crazy questions just to see the grown up lawyers crawling all over each other trying to get a referral out of it.

  21. mojo says:

    All they missed was noting that he's suing his previous lawyer.

  22. SirWired says:

    I've never had to retain a lawyer myself, but how DOES one ask a "quick" legal question without being out of pocket for a few hundred? Is this even possible?

    This gets back to the fundamental issue that there is a great need for legal services in the US, and a glut of young, unemployed, lawyers, but due to high debt levels, no way for the unemployed lawyers to charge fees clients want (or in many cases, even afford) to pay.

  23. LauraW says:

    @Wil Hutton:

    My approach to getting the law enforcement agency to sign off on the ticket was to drive through the parking lot at the local Starbucks and ask the first cop I saw. (No Dunkin Donuts here in the South Bay.) It worked. The cops here in Sunnyvale are pretty reasonable.

    I think there was some sort of court fee, though. But my total cost was still around $25. Not too bad, all things considered.

  24. naught_for_naught says:

    Who the blue fuck responds to something like this?

    Well, you would/did — just not in a manner predicted by the people at AVVO.

  25. JS says:

    What, no pony response? Don't people get tickets for not paying their pony registration fee?

  26. JWH says:

    I haven't seen this, but I've looked at Avvo's Q&A forum. The forum doesn't look like much of a marketing tool, but it looks like a decent place for lawyers (or retired lawyers) who enjoy working out legal puzzles in their spare time.

  27. Kerwin White says:

    Ah, Avvo. I wondered when someone would talk about that bastion of fun and good times here.

    I've used Avvo a bit to try and market myself. That failed miserably. Then a colleague got a brilliant idea and we figured out a way to make it work. Short hand version is we know who in our circle of acquaintances handles certain things and we all agree mutually to refer out what we see on Avvo. It goes like this:

    POSTER: "I've got a DUI 1st and my baby daddy is in jail for Oxys and DCS says they'll take my kids can someone help me."
    KERWIN: "Attorney (insert name here) handles criminal cases, and if you're looking for a family law attorney that handles juvenile matters involving a situation like yours, call attorney (insert name here). Their numbers are (insert number 1) and (insert number 2). Best of luck to you."

    People actually call. 90% of the time it's stupid stuff, and you can't help them because they don't know what's going on in their own cases, but hey–it's worked 10% of the time.

    I'd make some joke here, but I have to get back to work.

  28. Dan says:

    As a marketing professional it appears you could be better served by aligning certain business practices to better place your message in front of your potential clients while advancing the revenue streams for your business partners. Perhaps we could create several new opportunities by licensing the inner roof of ambulances, enabling local lawyers and doctors to advertise their specialties directly to patients most in need. For example, "Auto Accident got you down? We can Rebuild your Face in no time flat!" or "Carjacking gone wrong? Call Bob's House of Discount Lawyers and we can protect your rights!"

    While these examples may seem lighthearted, or heartless, please keep in mind that, as a marketing professional, I neither have a heart or soul (our lawsuit against Don "No Soul" Simmons is near conclusion).

    Additionally, local Police Temporary Detention Facilities (Jail) could carry naming rights (similar to local sporting venues) as well as placards and directed messages (advertising) relating to the population most likely to inhabit these spaces. Attorneys could invest in local facilities and sponsor these buildings to help defray costs for the community while communicating their message directly to the people who need their services the most.

    I understand these ideas may seem far-fetched at first, but for a complete analysis or a copy of our white-paper "Getting your message across to criminals who would not even listen to their own Mother", be sure to visit our website http://www.deweycheatem&howe.com.

    Sincerely,
    The Marketing Team at Dewey, Cheatem & Howe (located in Berwyn, Illinois).

  29. John Beaty says:

    James, are you under the impression that most people who need legal services enough to be asking questions of random websites will be 1) in need of future services when they 2) will have lots of money?

    Seems to be a debatable point.

  30. James Pollock says:

    "are you under the impression that most people who need legal services enough to be asking questions of random websites will be 1) in need of future services when they 2) will have lots of money?"

    No, A) most people's net worth increases over their lifetime, and B) most people's need for legal services increase with time, so that's the way to bet.
    Of course, a great many people will never have "lots of money"… but there are already swarms of lawyers circling the people who ALREADY HAVE "lots of money".
    As I suggested, it's a long game.

  31. John Beaty says:

    "(M)ost people's net worth increases over their lifetime"!? Are you shitting me? In real terms, more than 1/2 the country expects to lose ground every year. If it keeps up with inflation, they are doing really well.

    That they will need legal services may be true, but taking on a large number of unpaid cases now to MAYBE get a return later is just insanity from a business point of view.

  32. James Pollock says:

    "In real terms, more than 1/2 the country expects to lose ground every year. If it keeps up with inflation, they are doing really well."
    Yet somehow they manage to buy cars, houses, etc. The fact that there was a five year hiccup doesn't change the long-term trend.

    "taking on a large number of unpaid cases now to MAYBE get a return later is just insanity from a business point of view."
    I suppose it would. But taking on a small number of low-paying gigs to keep busy when you would otherwise have no paying work at all is better. There's a SIGNIFICANT number of young/newly admitted lawyers, unable to find work employed by someone else, who need an opportunity to do actual legal work (to improve their skill) and for whom building a word-of-mouth network of any kind is a step in a positive direction. Well-established lawyers with a strong book can keep busy with paying work at the their normal billing rate; others are scrambling to find enough work to do.

    But do go on and tell me how no sane lawyer does non-paying work because it's bad business, while I laugh at you.

  33. John Beaty says:

    OK, I'm stupid, I'll bite:
    "Yet somehow they manage to buy cars, houses, etc. The fact that there was a five year hiccup doesn't change the long-term trend."
    Way to change the subject:1/2 the country doen't buy cars, houses etc, they LIVE BELOW THE POVERTY LINE. This trend is getting worse and has been for decades. Every year there are fewer people able to afford basic necessities. So, no, "most people's net worth increases over time" is not true. Most people's doesn't. So that's out.
    "Most people's need for legal services increase with time, so that's the way to bet." But if they have less money, they will have less ability to pay (duh). The fact that PD offices are increasingly overwhelmed (at a time when they are ALSO being less funded, but that's another story) points out that more people have less ability to pay. Why would you think this trend would reverse at some random future date? It might, but I don't see any signs.
    "There's a SIGNIFICANT number of young/newly admitted lawyers, unable to find work employed by someone else, who need an opportunity to do actual legal work (to improve their skill)" True. Why not volunteer to be the one who they get to "practice" on. Go read Greenfield, Turkowitz or any of the CDL blogs and tell me again how that would be a great deal for an indicted or charged human.
    But that wasn't your point, nor is it mine: you said that a lawyer should take on a number of pro-bono jobs BECAUSE it would later result in income flow. This is the equivalent of saying, "we'll sell below cost and make it up in volume." Taking a case involves spending money, out of pocket if the client doesn't have it. It costs. It is not just a few minutes to hours, it is a commitment: you are not allowed to drop out even if you can't feed your own family.
    I don't disagree with your basic idea in the last post, which wasn't the original idea I responded to. (This is also true of my position in the other thread.) Networking is important. But it is not sufficient to "keep busy", because then all you are doing is keeping busy. It is very hard to build a law practice; hoping that someday your bread on the waters will return isn't a viable business strategy, however socially wonderful it is.
    And, just to make the point a little clearer, it is not that a young lawyer shouldn't do pro-bono work. It is that AVVO referrals are generally (and usually pointedly) from people who have both no money, and no clue, which is a recipe for disaster. As Ken points out.

  34. James Pollock says:

    "1/2 the country doen't buy cars, houses etc, they LIVE BELOW THE POVERTY LINE"
    I'm sorry, I was talking about the United States, not whatever country you're from, where the median income is blow the poverty line. If you're interested in learning about income levels here, you can play with numbers from the U.S. census bureau.
    http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/statemedian/

    "The fact that PD offices are increasingly overwhelmed (at a time when they are ALSO being less funded, but that's another story) points out that more people have less ability to pay"
    Or, it points out that the population is increasing, or that "ability to pay" is being judged on different criteria, or that police are arresting poor people at a rate that is disproportionate to the population as whole.

    "tell me again how that would be a great deal for an indicted or charged human."
    I suppose that would depend on how likely that indicted or charged human would be to win that criminal case, so he can get back to the question of if or how to get the tickets cleared from his car's title. I mean, if he loses that criminal case, he's not likely to need that car for a while, anyway, right?

    "you said that a lawyer should take on a number of pro-bono jobs BECAUSE it would later result in income flow. This is the equivalent of saying, "we'll sell below cost and make it up in volume.""
    You're not familiar with retail, are you?
    It's the equivalent of "we'll put this item on sale in order to draw customers, build awareness that we're now open at this location, and draw in customers who, although they get this one item below our cost, buy all these other items at enough of a markup to make up the difference."

    "Taking a case involves spending money, out of pocket if the client doesn't have it. It costs. It is not just a few minutes to hours, it is a commitment: you are not allowed to drop out even if you can't feed your own family."
    Duh. I'm glad I'm not nearly as stupid as you seem to think I am. I wish I was HALF as smart as you seem to think you are.

    "It is very hard to build a law practice; hoping that someday your bread on the waters will return isn't a viable business strategy, however socially wonderful it is."
    EVERY successful law practice was built on doing good work for clients, followed by referrels of satisfied customers. Even bankruptcy practices, which by definition serve clients with no money (well, no cashflow, anyway.) Sure, it would be nice if the first guy in the door and every one after that had enough money to pay my top rate, and there were enough people similarly-situated lined up out the door to assure my continued full employment at top rates now and into the future. I'm glad for you (I guess) that you're in that situation. I suppose it's a social-community problem that if you take one guy who can't pay full rates on as customer, your business will collapse.

    How much billable time did you spend reading and commenting on a blog, though?

  35. John Beaty says:

    Mean income is not median income: mean (average) income is what I'm talking about because the top 1% swings the median, which is why we talk about stagnant incomes; I'm not stuck with billable hours because that's not how I designed my business (I'm not a lawyer); bankrupt clients often have significant money and cashflow, even if not enough of both, and the courts decide to let them spend it in defined ways; if you're a lawyer I'm a monkey's uncle. Wait, on second thought, you probably are a lawyer. So go ahead, pound on the table.

    I think you are, in fact, about 1/2 as smart as I think you are. But up to this comment, I was willing to change my mind, looking for any indication that maybe you were able to re-think some position. But since you are absolutely convinced that you have the right of every position, I think I should stop this, and go make some money doing pro-bono work. Future money that is, or as we call it around here, ifcome. Luckily I have no mortgage, because the bank never let me pay with future income, the bastards. And that "duh" of mine was pointed at myself for saying something so obvious, but I wanted to be done, not go back to editing.

    Happy 4th.

  36. John Beaty says:

    Oh, yeah, I spend about 2 hours/day on blogs of all types, in my fields and not. Last year, I assigned about 1/3 of my income to information and news derived directly from that habit.

  37. John Beaty says:

    Ken or Clark, would you please remove both of my last comments? I seem to have slipped into personal attack mode.

  38. James Pollock says:

    "Mean income is not median income: mean (average) income is what I'm talking about because the top 1% swings the median"

    You have these precisely backwards.

    "you probably are a lawyer. So go ahead, pound on the table."
    We've previously established that you're incapable of deterining anything about me… you should stop.

    "I think you are, in fact, about 1/2 as smart as I think you are."
    Recursive. adj. See "recursive".

    "I spend about 2 hours/day on blogs of all types, in my fields and not. Last year, I assigned about 1/3 of my income to information and news derived directly from that habit."
    And yet you advocate against the very notion of doing something NOW that can lead to income LATER.

  39. John Beaty says:

    James, You're right in part and not in others, and unfortunately my irritation is getting the better of me. So I'm gone.

  40. Careless says:

    The lesson, I imagine: if you're going to get into an internet argument at 9 pm, make it a day you didn't start drinking at 3.