My practice is limited to civil litigation and appeals. I am located in Vero Beach, Florida, practicing in the areas of Business & Commercial Law, Insurance Law, Personal Injury (Plaintiffs & Defense), Products Liability Law and Professional Malpractice Law. I also conduct civil mediations for other lawyers.
I am available to represent clients in every level of the Florida State court system, the Federal courts in the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida, the Federal Appeals Court which covers Florida (11th Circuit), and the United States Supreme Court. I am also admitted in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine (all currently inactive).
I believe that law and creativity do mix. The rote approach to representing any client does a disservice to the client, the lawyer, and the profession. Unfortunately, especially during the last few years, we have seen a deterioration of the profession:
Instead of a reasoned approach, which views a jury's resolution as a legitimate option, plaintiffs' lawyers in search of a large, quick cash flow, persuade their clients to settle their cases for far less than a jury would be likely to award, by highlighting to the client the possibilities of losing.The lawyer's economics are telling - If the lawyer can settle ten cases for 25% of their likely verdict by doing only 10% of the work (or having a paralegal do the work), the lawyer earns money 2.5 times as quickly (Quickly enough to pay for the massive advertising campaign which usually goes with this approach?)! Only the lawyer benefits - the client is taken advantage of, the physicians usually do not get paid the value of their services, and the public's perception of the system suffers.
On the other side are the insurance defense lawyers and commercial litigators whose whole existence seems to tied to the number of their billable hours. Work which should take minutes takes hours. Work which has already been done for another client is billed as if it is done freshly for the new client. The format of pleadings, motions and letters are changed to make them take up additional pages so more can be billed for them (some insurance carriers will approve up to a particular fraction of an hour per page of the document. For example, a one page "Notice of Hearing" takes only seconds to dictate, but, if it can be stretched onto three pages by listing every party in multiple party litigation in the case caption and putting the service list on a separate page, the lawyer can bill .3 hours for seconds of time, and the client will approve it!). The person controlling the litigation (claims adjustor in the insurance setting or client in a commercial setting) is told how strong the case is, but, in the same breath, is also told that "extensive work will need to be done in order to prevail." Sadly, that extensive work often consists of unfocused, goalless paper shuffling, yielding nothing more than aimless motions and discovery. Of course, the lawyer insists upon being paid by the hour (It is, after all, an accepted form of compensation and rather advantageous from the lawyer's point of view.). Papers continue to be shuffled; the meter continues to run, until The Big Day arrives. The Big Day, Trial Day, the day when the lawyer must now attempt to actually prove the case to a judge and jury. Will the lawyer go through with it? Often the lawyer then tells the client that the case must now be settled. Excuses abound. "Unforseen bad facts were discovered." "The Judge will be unfair." "The law changed." You get the idea. The end result to the client? All the money given to the lawyer to prepare the case for trial has now just been wasted. If a thorough review of the facts by attorney and client conducted in the early stages of the case showed that settlement was the best option, this is what should have occurred, not only saving the client time and money but relieving our beleaguered judicial system as well.
Results Based Fees
With the exception of family law, results based fees are allowed in every civil case at every level. Yet, very few insurance defense lawyers and very few commercial lawyers ever use these arrangements.
The following scenarios show how results based fees operate. In the first example, assume a lawyer is representing a defendant in a lawsuit. The client/defendant is being sued for an extraordinary sum, and while it does appear that the client/defendant is liable for something, the question is, how much? Let us assume for the sake of argument that damages can be fairly evaluated at $100,000 (in other words, the client would be liable for $100,000 to the plaintiff). Normally, lawyers charge by the hour in cases like this. However, under a results based fee arrangement, the lawyer's fee could be set at some agreed upon fixed amount, but reduced, by every dollar paid in excess of $100,000! This reduces the client's risk and exposure to bad lawyering.
In a commercial plaintiff's setting, results based fees also make sense. For example, in a suit for damages for trade name infringement, instead of the typical hourly fee, it would be easy to base the lawyer's fee on a percentage of the recovery, or, if it would be more appropriate, on a smaller percentage of recovery combined with a reduced flat fee. The risk of loss is shared with the client, and a better result is more likely.
Appeals are based solely on legal research and argument. If the lawyer has properly evaluated the case, properly researches it, and properly presents it, the chances of prevailing are greater. Therefore, why not encourage success by setting a fee keyed to winning? If the lawyer loses, the client pays no fee (or a greatly reduced fee - as agreed in advance).
Wouldn't the client be better served if the lawyer were working to win, not to bill?
I will accept some cases on a results based fee, some cases on a flat fee, some cases on an hourly fee, some cases on a contingent percentage fee, and some cases on a combination of the above. In some cases costs will be contingent, while in others, costs will always remain the client's responsibility. Please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your particular situation.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
Copyright 2002 by Miller Law Offices. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement.