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Sadly deficient. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
captainsblog
Sadly deficient.

Ya can't live with 'em, ya can't live without 'em,
There's something irresisiti-bullish about 'em....

Rowlf the Dog was referring to women in that song, but I could say the same thing about clients.  I never cease to be amazed by what they do, and don't, pay attention to.

Lawyers play many roles. Counselor, advocate, negotiator, but just as much as anything we are scribes. We write down what the clients tell us about what they did, what they want and what they expect- and we turn these tales into legal documents that, usually, bear both their signatures and ours. Only difference is, theirs are often sworn to, or otherwise affixed with the penalties of perjury in the wind.  Doesn't matter. I am convinced that most clients would sign a consent form to their own death warrants if I stuck the documents in front of them.

This is especially tricky in bankruptcy, where clients routinely sign papers without the slightest idea about what they are signing. I do not make shit up; sometimes I interpret, sometimes I extrapolate, but ultimately the signature with clout on those documents is theirs, not mine.  When they go for their one mandatory hearing, it is made abundantly clear to them that they were expected to read the documents before they signed them, and to be familiar with their contents.  See "death warrants," above.  To overcome this blindness, I now require clients to sign this document before I will file their cases:



Despite this abundance of caution, I still run into situations where clients seem shocked, SHOCKED, when they are expected to turn over cash that was documented to be in their bank account(s) as of the filing date beyond what they expected to be there, even though this notice specifically tells them to be careful about that. Same with other "oops" things. I don't know what I can do beyond what I already am to hammer this point home to them.

----

That's not true. I DO know of a way, but I don't know of a way to make it work prior to filing. I just know that it works right as rain once a case has been filed.

Court clerks are largely bored these days. Filings are down from even volumes in the first few years after the draconian 2005 bankruptcy amendments went into effect, and lawyers, now, do much of the administrative work of filing and maintaining these cases ourselves thanks to a Judicial Conference initiative called CM/ECF. We now electronically prepare, upload and self-docket virtually all of our paperwork, so the court clerks who used to manage these by hand are left with few tasks except to tell us what, exactly, we did wrong.

Hence, the dreaded deficiency notice. Wanna see one? Course you do:



About one time in three, I will file something that generates one of these knuckle-rappers. It's usually something silly, or necessary (such as not filing proof of service of something until I've received confirmation of the date to serve it for), but this last one was technical. I'd uploaded a document containing X pages of essential client documents- except the .pdf file was X+3 pages in length. The first three pages were blank, a function of my stupidhead scanner not recognizing I was feeding from atop the HP unit until I'd erred three times straight; it assumed I WANTED to start with three blank pages, and it dutifully added them to the .pdf file.

And so, THIS deficiency notice, in my case, said, simply:

The first three pages of the PDF are blank. Please file a revised PDF if necessary.

It wasn't. And I appreciate the clerk's concern (I've known this one for close to 30 years; she's a sweetheart), but that's not the problem. No, the problem is that they routinely mail these deficiency notices to the clients whose cases generated them. And, despite my observation above, that they will ignore anything I TELL them to read, they always Always ALWAYS read these notices from the court and call me to worry about them.

So I think from now on, I will just start sending clients copies of their own unfiled petitions with fake deficiency notices such as the attached, telling them YOUR FILING DID NOT PASS OUR BULLSHIT METER. PLEASE REVIEW AND MAKE ANY NECESSARY CORRECTIONS IN THE DOCUMENT BEFORE YOU FILE IT.

I don't know who will catch me first- a client or the Court.  I'm betting, neither.

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Comments
warriorsavant From: warriorsavant Date: June 20th, 2014 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
What "fun."

Your last line about "who will catch this first..." struck a(n indirect) chord. The Army Reserve required me to have a letter of recommendation from my employer. Problem is that I'm self-employed. For many years I wrote myself a (glowing) letter of recommendation. It worked for about 5 years before someone actually read the damn thing.

A bit of legal whimsey.. my bro is involved in insurance law (he works for an auto insurance company. He told me that sometimes husband and wife are driving to gather, get in an accident, and then she sues him. Surprise, she sues him for less than the policy limits and he doesn’t mount a great defense. I had the amused thought, what if the judge puts in an additur. I know it couldn’t actually happen, but imagine if you demanded it. “Your Honor, we are appalled, appalled, at the horrendous damages suffered by this poor woman at the hands of her negligent and callous husband. A million dollars is a paltry sum for such misery. We would be remiss in our civic duty if we didn’t insist, absolutely insist, that you grant her twice that.” Imagine the plaintiff’s attorney’s dilemma. If he goes along with it, the game is up in the long run, but one the other hand, his cut would also double for this case. The wife might go along with that, since that would be enough to hire a pool boy and run off to Brazil with him.
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