Recently in Mediation Category

August 5, 2015

Lawyer's Advertising - What You Are Reading....

I had a trial last year against an attorney I consider to be unethical. He's bad enough I no longer will speak to him, as I believe there should be consequences to his type of conduct. The old practice of shunning has, unfortunately, become underutilized. [As usual, to disquise the people about whom I write as though the person were male, although the persons described may be male or female]

After having had an opportunity to review a Yelp rating for a company hired by my 99 year old father - a company with a horrible ranking. Yelp in crowd sourced, so I tend to rely on their reviews, and you can check on all the other reviews supplied by anyone commenting. With the company my dad called, all the positive ratings were from people who only submitted 1 or 2 reviews - they were outweighed by dozens of very negative review. [My sister has a friend whose daughter rates fake reviews for a living, so be careful.]

Years ago a service called AVVO.COM set up a website to rate lawyers - a well-financed start up. I have 4 reviews, 3 great and 1 bad. The bad one is from a mediation client who is angry that I identified an asset that he hadn't disclosed to his wife or in any of the forms he filled out for me, so he had to divide it with his spouse. The complaints were bizarre, but I can live with it - he complained that I had the parties reach their own agreement [excuse me, but that is what mediation for]. He complained that I did not disclose that I was not competent to divide his pension [the undisclosed asset]; I am competent to do so, but it is not cost effective for me to do that work, so I referred the parties out - almost all of my peers do the same in virtually every case going through their doors.

Oh well, that's the joy of the Web's anonymity - the reviews could be written my a 9 year old cocker spaniel for all you know.

The lawyer I looked up on Avvo had dozens of reviews, almost all extremely positive, and some using unusual, repetitive phrases. There were several that said "The best lawyer in town," as though any client would know of other family law lawyers, or even enough to make that statement. And, what "town" are they all referring to? Oceanside? Or some other small city in our large county with many neighboring communities. Sounds like someone is writing reviews and lacks imagination.

Then I noticed that the lawyer's picture has a bold square in contrasting color that says "PRO." That surprised me, so I looked further. It seems that if you pay AVVO, they will put that legend on your photo, so you think this person must have special skills, so he's a PRO. AND they then put your two most favorable reviews at the top of the list. There are only 2 reviews on the page with the lawyer's picture, so one would have to click on a link to go to another page to find negative reviews. Under lawyer endorsements, the two that appear on his page are his spouse [a lawyer, listed as a co-worker], and an employee - no bias there.

I can understand that Avvo.Com was created to generate revenue from advertisements, but spare us. It's like looking for reviews on a product and finding a website that seems written by a manufacturer of one or two products - who else would buy a domain name like "BandSawReviews.Com"? There is such a site, but in finding a band saw to use in my retirement years, it was of no help whatsoever.

March 26, 2010

Getting Your "Divorce in a Day": No Way....

There is one local lawyer in San Diego County who specializes in bashing the legal profession, and bragging about the ability to handle a complete divorce in a day: Mediating a settlement, gathering the financial records, drafting all the documents, having an agreement signed, and the case ready for filing with the court. Sounds attractive - especially if you are rushing to get an agreement signed.

That attorney brags of a 100% success record. Unfortunately, the claims are not justified by experience. While that attorney may be able to claim to have talked the parties into a settlement and signed most of the documents in that day, not counted in those bragging rights are the many cases that have later been set aside by a judge or by stipulation because they were unfair, or entered into without sufficient understanding of the law or facts. The same person instills fear in potential clients by telling them that letting some other lawyer near their case will end up costing them tens of thousands of dollars, making outrageous claims of the cost of the average divorce.

And the saddest part is that the work is of low quality, and often could have been handled more competently at lower cost. Two mature, reasonable people, can mediate with a competent mediator inexpensively, and do it right: They don't need to pretend they can or should wrap it all up in a few hours. Typically in my practice, we meet 2 or 3 times over several months; by the time we are done, each knows his or her rights and feels comfortable with the agreement. And we strongly suggest they at least consult with an attorney before signing.

As a concept, it sounds nice that two reasonable people who know what they are doing can go to an attorney, polish the rough edges off their agreement, and have all the paperwork completed quickly, efficiently, and cheaply. Unfortunately, that isn't what happens in practice when they try to do it in a day. One of the things I complain about in this blog is people with insufficient education and training performing mediation in the guise of protecting people from the legal profession and their own inability to reach agreements on their own.

Continue reading "Getting Your "Divorce in a Day": No Way...." »