Ive told you here that, at Flood and Masiuk, were members of a minority of lawyers who, with a few exceptions, dont charge by the hour.
That wasnt always the case.
About 25 years ago when Flood and Masiuk first hung out a shingle, and were looking for Anything to come in the door to help pay the bills, we were referred a client by another lawyer who didnt have the time to handle the matter.
Youll really like him, I was told. His nickname is Big Al. Hes been sued in a minor contract dispute and really needs some good legal help.
I wasted no time arranging for my lawyer friend to have Big Al schedule an appointment to see me. We met; he gave me the lawsuit papers with which he had been served; agreed to my then-hourly rate; and wrote me a retainer check.
I threw myself into the case like it was the only case I had, because back in those days, it almost was the only case I had.
Thereafter, as some of you who have been involved in litigation may know, a civil case winds its way through the court at an almost glacial, snail-like pace, certainly not like the TV show Law and Order where we go from homicide to investigation to arraignment to trial to summation to verdict in some 53 minutes (plus commercials).
The slow motion of Big Als case did not stop him, however, from wanting to be brought up-to-date on every tiny detail. In fact, he would schedule an appointment to see me in my office about every two weeks after he retained me.
On the first visit, we talked about nothing but the case.
On the second visit, however, I noticed a change. After having talked about the case for five or ten minutes, he asked me, How bout them Phillies? and then launched into a soliloquy about Phillies pitching, their hitting, their base stealing, and virtually anything else that was baseball related. The very same thing happened during another meeting, with even less time having been spent on talking about his case, because in two weeks, litigation being what it is, nothing had happened.
Big Als visits were making me increasingly nervous and uncomfortable, because I was on the clock. It was a waste of time and Big Als money for him to schedule appointments, and come to the office to talk about sports, when I had no updates to give him about his case.
At the very beginning of our next meeting, I told him straight out, Big Al, youre wasting your money. You know that I have to charge you for the actual time spent in every meeting we have. You schedule these meetings; come over here; and burn through your retainer to talk about baseball. It makes no sense and its not in your best interest.
He said, Counselor, I respectfully disagree, whereupon he carefully placed his leg on the corner of my Big Lawyer Desk, and proceeded to roll up his pant leg, exposing an electronic device strapped to his ankle. He explained,
Joe, I know theres nothing new happening with my case. What I havent told you, though, is that a while back, I was caught by the Feds because I was selling fireworks illegally. I was sentenced to 18 months of House Arrest and I was fitted with this ankle bracelet which tells the Feds where I am at all times.
I was told, though, that any visits I make to my lawyer are OK. This is the only legal way I can get out of the house. I hope you dont think Im wasting your timeIm paying for itand besides, it means all the world to me.
I took a moment and then asked him,
So, Big Al, how bout them Phillies?