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Some suggestions to consumers about hiring a lawyer to defend a debt collection or foreclosure case

We handle almost all cases on a contingency, other than defense of claims against consumers (collection, foreclosure), for which we'll usually quote a flat fee (collection) or flat fee plus monthly fee (foreclosure).

The following are some suggestions to consumers about hiring a lawyer for such matters.

Experience is critical. Law books do not tell a lawyer how courts will in practice react to an argument or set of facts. Years of experience do. A lot of tasks can be delegated, but someone with experience needs to be involved.

Cheapest is not good. A reporter asked astronaut John Glenn what he was most concerned about prior to his Mercury spaceflight. His answer: “That the rocket was built by the lowest bidder.” Glenn survived his mission; a dozen other astronauts died in accidents. And NASA knows more about whether equipment it receives will kill the occupants than most consumers know about whether legal services are being competently performed. Beware of lawyers, doctors, and home improvement contractors that advertise how low their prices are. There usually is a reason. Not one that is good for the consumer.

Be especially careful about low offers that do not consider how much you are being sued for -- a debt owner with a $20,000 claim is obviously going to put more effort into collecting it than one with a $2,000 claim, requiring more work to defend.

When we quote fees, we attempt to quote a fair fee based on past experience as to how much work it will take to successfully resolve a case.

Lawyers cannot guarantee results of litigation. We will attempt to give you an idea of the likely outcome.

Do not delay or engage in do-it-yourself litigation before consulting an attorney. We have occasionally had people come to us, ask us what it would cost to defend a case, try defending it themselves, and then come back and have us decline to take the case. Similarly, we often will not get involved in a case where the consumer was represented by other counsel. Why? Because something bad happened that cannot be undone. It is like do-it-yourself surgery. Not a good idea.

Even setting a trial date can be a problem, if you do not retain counsel until it is too late to conduct necessary investigation and discovery prior to trial. If you are sued and don't have time to get a lawyer before having to go to court, ask for more time, either in person or by motion. Most judges will give you a month without a problem.