Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Value of Creative Thought or Why am I Paying My Lawyer?

You can define it but can you live it? from

Over my years in practice or shall I say practices (Chiropractic and Law) I have had people question my fees. Sometimes you are paying for far more or far less than merely time and/or services.

I'm a big kid at heart from

My wife tells me to grow up but strength sometimes lies in weakness. I am forever a child, curious and creative. I call it the Peter Pan Syndrome while my wife (and mother) call it immaturity.

Professional Fees: Is it really just Time and Service?

What exactly am I paying? What am I paying for? Am I paying for your time? Am I paying for a specific service?

Time is a very common way to bill, and easily understandable but is there something else? You pay the therapist, the music teacher, the plumber, and a gazilion others based upon their time and the costs of their materials. I like to joke do you want the four hour root canal or the 20 minute laser root canal? Well you do want your money's worth? or do you?

Service is the second way that many professionals determine a fee. I showed up at a hearing, did an adjustment, examined a patient, or filed a motion so that costs you "X."

There is a 3rd Dimension to professional services beyond time and service.

How creative is your doctor or lawyer or CPA or Plumber?

Can they think as they say "outside the box?"

Do they see what others don't or can't see?

Some recent cases demonstrating the 3rd dimension: 

Case #1: The future nurse

Potential DWI client calls me, already has a lawyer, unhappy and wants to know my take. Actually, and it usually goes down this way, I don't know till the end of the phone call she is already represented by someone. She has been going to school for Nursing, and is now is facing a 2nd DWI (a felony).
This would be the career killer. I ask, has her attorney asked for her school documents? In other words has he presented her nursing school records to the DA or to the Judge? NO. Has the attorney asked for her school loan documents or letters from teachers? To present her school loans or anything from teachers to demonstrate her commitment to being a nurse? NO. Does she has have an offer for anything less than a felony? NO. Has here attorney explored a combo of short time county jail, and probation with treatment? She doesn't know, but I hazard to guess? NO.

What is her case about? What is her life about? Her future livelihood and career as a NURSE. If she was a nurse or a doctor or any professional license holder that is what is on the line here.

Yet her ADVOCATE is not advocating creatively.

There are only three defenses: the legal defenses, the factual defenses, and the equitable defenses.

With her specific case, she is dead in the water on the first two. There was probable cause for the stop, the arrest, and a solid BAC (blood alcohol concentration). So I'm left with an equitable defense.

Equity goes to fairness, goes to whether we can help (rehabilitate) a human being get back on track. Equity goes to the humanity. Her equity is based in her "pursuit" of a professional degree and license.
Just as if she had one. Now I have people in the midst of their DWI case who want to join the armed services, or suddenly decide they want to be a doctor or a lawyer, NO! That is BS. I need something more for equity and she at least has a proven track record.

But even EQUITY requires proof. Nobody listens to anything. People love to see stuff. We are all VAKs (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic). We primarily relate and communicate visually (through our eyes) not through our ears.

I love show and tell from

Remember your kindergarten show and tell? You would bring in stuff and talk about it. Stuff people can see and believe in. Judges and District Attorneys love to see hard data. Demonstrate, show me. They want "Proof" of what you are telling them. It has a huge impact. They can touch it and believe it to be true. Talking about your loans, or your schooling falls flat. Just like holding a degree in your hand, it has weight beyond the paper, that's why people frame them and mount them on walls.

Case #2: Young DWI with prior DWAI.

Imagine if you will a guy driving on the railroad tracks, you get the picture. Not a first driving while offense, but not a high BAC, pretty low actually but he is definitely in hot water. The ADA is not happy, and wants his pound of flesh. Remember, everybody wants something. DAs and Judges want to curtail future bad behavior. Does a lesson need to be taught?

Hey I say how about a weekend in jail for our young lad? The DA and Judge love it, perfect. It is the deal of the century in my opinion. The mother of my client thought OMG this is terrible. It was as if I said he was going to prison for years. A weekend in the county jail, it's his second DW and he's only 20, give me a break mom.

Anyway, a lawyer's creativity can be with all the defenses. Those precious moments of why didn't I think of that sooner? Practicing Law much like practicing medicine is both a Science and an Art.
One can be learned (SCIENCE), but the other (ART) must be lived and experienced. And there are some that will never get it, never quite understand or believe in the power or magic of communicating in a different way. The same naysayers that have sight but no vision.

You really pay professionals to think, to strategize, and to execute. A monkey can show up, a "smart" person can write and file a motion, but it takes a creative person to think and to advocate (represent you and your interests) successfully.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

Ithaca, NY