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Old 12-03-2012, 08:56 AM   #1
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Thoughts on this article? are lawyers really 'scum of the earth'?

this particular lawyer is getting some bad PR but in the end, a lawyer always comes out winning..... win or lose...



B.C. woman may lose home over huge lawyer bill - British Columbia - CBC News


A B.C. woman stands to lose her home to her lawyer, who is moving to foreclose on her to pay his six-figure bill.

"My friends and family say this can't be happening. There's got to be a mistake," Dale Fotsch said.

Fotsch got into the predicament after being sued by her former common-law husband, even though she won the case and the court ordered him to pay her costs.

"I won, but I lost," Fotsch said. "I defended myself and now I'm losing my place."

Fotsch, 54, lives near Pemberton with her disabled son and earns a modest income. Her only asset is her home and the 12 hectares of land it sits on.

"I've worked two jobs, and I have for the last 25 years," Fotsch said. "When I was hit with this, it was just like a bomb went off in my life."

Case dragged on
A decade ago, her common law ex-husband Leigh Wilson went after Fotsch, trying to get a piece of her property after their breakup. The case took nine years to resolve, which was years longer than her lawyer had predicted, she said.

"There was a three-week trial three weeks! For my little place in the country. I mean, it just seems a little overboard and ridiculous," Fotsch said. "There were three tables of binders, with papers stacked sky high."

She said she had already paid thousands in legal fees when the case finally went to trial in 2007. As it advanced, her lawyer said he wouldn't continue unless she allowed him to secure a $100,000 mortgage against her property, at 18 per cent interest per year.

Vancouver divorce lawyer Jonas Dubas charges $300 an hour. His invoices to Fotsch include charges like $148.40 to simply call another lawyer and leave a voicemail message.

"Lots of people get a divorce. For some of them, it costs a little bit, but nothing like this. I mean, this is huge," Fotsch said.

When she finally won, in 2010, the B.C. Court of Appeal ordered Fotsch's former husband to pay her court costs. That would have covered at least part of her bill from Dubas which, by then, had reached $90,000.

"When they said he was responsible for the costs, I thought that meant that he was going to pay them," Fotsch said.

$180,000 bill
However, her ex-husband has since declared bankruptcy, so he hasn't paid and she can't force him to. Meanwhile, her legal bill has mushroomed with $88 a day in interest charges and has now reached $180,000.

"I have a hard time sleeping at night. I'm one that keeps my bills paid. I've always paid my bills," Fotsch said.

She said her bank refused to lend her money to pay her lawyer's fees because she already has another mortgage. Dubas has hired his own lawyer who is taking steps to foreclose on Fotsch's home.

"I've done nothing wrong. What have I done wrong?" Fotsch said, choking up in tears.

"I've gone to court like they told me I had to, to save my place. And now the very person that I got to help me is taking it."

Fotsch said she realizes she is responsible for paying, but she said a legal system that would allow her to win her case then lose her home is perverse.

"I'm not bitter at anybody. I'm kind of bitter at myself for getting involved with this man in the first place," she said, referring to her ex-husband. "It has totally wrecked my life.

"But you know, we all make mistakes. It just seems like a big price to pay."

No comment from lawyer
Dubas told Go Public he could not speak on the record about the case, because Fotsch was his client.

But, he said, he deserves to get paid. Dubas also stressed that the mortgage arrangement was perfectly legal and his client agreed to it. He justified the high interest rate by saying other lawyers arrange financing for clients at rates over 20 per cent.

The Law Society of B.C., the governing body for the province's legal profession, would not comment on the case, but said that in general, what Jonas did is not against the rules.

"The law society's rules and regulations do not prohibit a lawyer from loaning money to a client or advancing money... but there are guidelines that should be followed," spokesperson Ben Hadaway said.

"A lawyer may not loan money to a client if the effect of loaning money is to give the lawyer an interest in the matter or impair the lawyer's professional judgment."

Fotsch hasn't filed a complaint with the law society because she's still hoping for a resolution. After her experience with this lawsuit, she said she would do anything to avoid ever having to go to court again.

"I would never go back in there again, not if my life depended on it, for anything. Nothing. What would be the point?"

Not alone
Halifax resident Lisa Finney said she, too, will never go to court again, after also winning her case but having nothing to show for it.

Finney sued her employer, LifeMates, for wrongful dismissal in 2006. After her father died, she alleged in her statement of claim, her boss Craig Gleason gave her no time off to grieve and then fired her.

When Gleason didn't show up in court, the judge ruled in Finney's favour and awarded her $10,000. Finney hired a paralegal to help her collect, but said it was futile.

"No matter what I did, they could find a way to avoid payment. There was always a way to avoid it. And I could put good money after bad," Finney said.

Gleason's bank refused to give her any information so she could seize money from his accounts. LifeMates is owned by a U.S. company, so it had no other assets in Canada for her to take.

"It's kind of a joke, really. We spend a lot of money in the court system. Going to court and putting these cases together. Employing a lot of people doing so," Finney said.

"And at the end of the day, if nothing comes of it, there's really no point. It's just a joke."

Billing debate
Advocates pushing for justice reform say cases like these particularly the legal bills are driving increasing numbers of people to represent themselves in court or avoid the courts altogether.

"Lawyers are quite simply priced out of most people's reach," said John Paul Boyd, a Vancouver lawyer with Access Pro-Bono, who gives free legal assistance to people in need.

It's a problem Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin has been raising for years, and it's led her to lament that "access to justice is becoming a privilege of the rich."

Every year, the B.C. Court of Appeal flags the number of cases where people show up for court without a lawyer. In 2011, the number of unrepresented litigants had reached one-quarter of all cases.

Boyd said billing disputes like Fotsch's are indicative of a bigger problem that only lawyers can fix.

"Lawyers have priced ourselves beyond the reach of most people, and there appears to be nothing in the form of market forces that are correcting us in terms of the fees that we are able to charge," Boyd said.

A Canadian Lawyer magazine survey found 52 per cent of lawyers plan to raise their fees next year. Fotsch's lawyer, Dubas, said it's a myth that lawyers are making great money.

"People think lawyers are rich, but in fact there are firms that struggle to pay their bills," he said.

Fotsch said she hopes once her story goes public, Dubas will decide to negotiate a settlement with her perhaps accepting a parcel of her land that is undeveloped.

"I can't lose my home," she said. "And I've appealed to his hopefully good side. But he's said no to everything and he won't listen to anything that I said."
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:00 AM   #2
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:09 AM   #3
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Stopped reading that article 1/4 way through, heard enough wining for one day
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:29 AM   #4
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Really, it's her ex-husband that screwed her over by declaring bankruptcy. The lawyer should have known that that was going to happen or done his due diligence by checking the ex-husband's assets and telling his client that even if they win they might not get anything from the other side. The client must have believed that she was going to win if she let the lawyer take out a mortgage on her house.

9 years for a divorce seems excessive. We don't know the details...

Anyway that's all speculation but what I'm sure of is if that lawyer bills out at $300 per hour, simply leaving a voicemail is .1 of a billable hour and would be $30 not $148. Unless that voicemail actually took almost 30 minutes that is.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:36 AM   #5
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I didn't read through the whole thing either, but one thing that doesn't make sense to me is -- why is the lawyer going after the woman for the lawyer fees when the court has clearly ruled that the ex-husband is responsible for paying it off? IMO, b/c of the ruling, the ex-husband is on the hook for that one, regardless of whether he declared bankruptcy or not.

Being bankrupt should be a separate issue. If the guy is bankrupt, the creditor (in this case, the lawyer) either sort it out with the debtor, or he gotta eat the loss. I don't see how the woman should be responsible for the legal fees.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:53 AM   #6
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My friend who is in a court battle over some shady repairs to his house is worried the same thing is going to happen actually. He's almost 100% going to win the case, will have about 100k owed to him, but if the guy declares bankruptcy, he won't get shit, and can't get shit. The issue isn't the lawyer, albeit he seems completely sleazy here, but clearly the context of the article is sewering him so who knows. The issue is the fact that bankruptcy simply allows people to get out of court ordered payment, which I think is fucked.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:02 AM   #7
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thats when the guys randomly gets his legs broken when hes getting out of his vehicle one day.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:33 AM   #8
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thats when the guys randomly gets his legs broken when hes getting out of his vehicle one day.
That's what I would do.If the owner of that company were to screw me over and delcare bankrupt on a winning court case,I would make sure he would not walk the same or even be able to walk again,especially if there is that much money involved.

I have two ways of doing things in the life,first is the civil legal diplomatic way,but if that fails and nothing else will work,then the good o' thug comes out and takes over and deals with the problems.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:35 AM   #9
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If the court has ordered the husband to pay the bills, does that liability not legally fall on the husband? If he declares bankruptcy, how can the lawyer go after the wife? Unless the court's order to pay the legals fees isn't a transfer of debt, but just a suggestion. Which is pretty stupid.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:38 AM   #10
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18% interest is robbery. A lot of credit card interest is lower than that.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:38 AM   #11
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My friend who is in a court battle over some shady repairs to his house is worried the same thing is going to happen actually. He's almost 100% going to win the case, will have about 100k owed to him, but if the guy declares bankruptcy, he won't get shit, and can't get shit. The issue isn't the lawyer, albeit he seems completely sleazy here, but clearly the context of the article is sewering him so who knows. The issue is the fact that bankruptcy simply allows people to get out of court ordered payment, which I think is fucked.
You would be surpised in how many companies pull that type of shit when they are forced to pay alot of money oweing.

A good example is John Hennessy,he's declared bankruptsy so many times and has reopened under a slightly different name,just to avoid the mountain of litigation cases he's lost.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:18 PM   #12
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as far as ridiculous charges, any self employed/agent professional can do that, be it dentist, specialized doctor, consultant, accountant, advisor, etc.

however since the ripoffs are often on company's or government's dime, nobody looks into it nor complains
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:46 PM   #13
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well she did agree to the lawyer's terms. If she didn't like them, she should have found another lawyer. He has to get paid as well and technically, she's the client and owes him money. I'm not quite sure how the law works around this but regardless of what the court decides with the husband, i'm sure the lawyer is still entitled to have a claim for his services against his client. I think the lawyer is completely fine asking for what he's owed which was agreed upon before hand. If you don't like the lawyers prices, find an alternative or represent yourself and understand why a good lawyer charges so much.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:58 PM   #14
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:11 PM   #15
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It has been one-hundred-sixty years since these words were penned, and diction aside, it would appear, they are no less true today.

"I ha' coom to ask yo, sir, how I am to be ridded o' this woman.'
Stephen infused a yet deeper gravity into the mixed expression of
his attentive face...

'I mun' be ridden o' her. I cannot bear 't nommore...

'If I do her any hurt, sir, there's a law to punish me?'

'Of course there is.'

'If I flee from her, there's a law to punish me?'

'Of course there is.'

'If I marry t'oother dear lass, there's a law to punish me?'

'Of course there is.'...

'Now, a' God's name,' said Stephen Blackpool, 'show me the law to
help me!'...

'Now, I tell you what!' said Mr. Bounderby, putting his hands in
his pockets. 'There is such a law.'

Stephen, subsiding into his quiet manner, and never wandering in
his attention, gave a nod.

'But it's not for you at all. It costs money. It costs a mint of
money.'

'How much might that be?' Stephen calmly asked.

'Why, you'd have to go to Doctors' Commons with a suit, and you'd
have to go to a court of Common Law with a suit, and you'd have to
go to the House of Lords with a suit, and you'd have to get an Act
of Parliament to enable you to marry again, and it would cost you
(if it was a case of very plain sailing), I suppose from a thousand
to fifteen hundred pound,' said Mr. Bounderby. 'Perhaps twice the
money.'

'There's no other law?'

'Certainly not.'"

(Charles Dickens, Hard Times.)

On another note -

I dislike the title of the thread, its a very broad generalization to say lawyers are the, 'scum of the earth.' Many lawyers are good, moral, fair, honest men and women, who have put a great deal of effort into reaching the position they have in life, and who give back to the community that has helped them achieve success.
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MindBomber View Post
It has been one-hundred-sixty years since these words were penned, and diction aside, it would appear, they are no less true today.

"I ha' coom to ask yo, sir, how I am to be ridded o' this woman.'
Stephen infused a yet deeper gravity into the mixed expression of
his attentive face...

'I mun' be ridden o' her. I cannot bear 't nommore...

'If I do her any hurt, sir, there's a law to punish me?'

'Of course there is.'

'If I flee from her, there's a law to punish me?'

'Of course there is.'

'If I marry t'oother dear lass, there's a law to punish me?'

'Of course there is.'...

'Now, a' God's name,' said Stephen Blackpool, 'show me the law to
help me!'...

'Now, I tell you what!' said Mr. Bounderby, putting his hands in
his pockets. 'There is such a law.'

Stephen, subsiding into his quiet manner, and never wandering in
his attention, gave a nod.

'But it's not for you at all. It costs money. It costs a mint of
money.'

'How much might that be?' Stephen calmly asked.

'Why, you'd have to go to Doctors' Commons with a suit, and you'd
have to go to a court of Common Law with a suit, and you'd have to
go to the House of Lords with a suit, and you'd have to get an Act
of Parliament to enable you to marry again, and it would cost you
(if it was a case of very plain sailing), I suppose from a thousand
to fifteen hundred pound,' said Mr. Bounderby. 'Perhaps twice the
money.'

'There's no other law?'

'Certainly not.'"

(Charles Dickens, Hard Times.)

On another note -

I dislike the title of the thread, its a very broad generalization to say lawyers are the, 'scum of the earth.' Many lawyers are good, moral, fair, honest men and women, who have put a great deal of effort into reaching the position they have in life, and who give back to the community that has helped them achieve success.
I would thank you again if I could!
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:21 PM   #17
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lawyers are not banks/loan sharks. how or why the law society allows this is beyond me, even though it's 18% a year...
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:25 PM   #18
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:56 PM   #19
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I don't think ALL lawyers are sleazy...just all the ones I've ever had to deal with.

I find it funny how its a big fuck you for people, "I'm getting a lawyer and I'm gonna sue you!"

Ok. Even if you win, you still lose.
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:06 PM   #20
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the lawyer is a dick, most lawyers i know would just let the debt slide or let the client pay in installments over their lifetime (for even higher amounts than that)

the client however is either incredibly stupid or is a scheming bitch; if its the latter it would explain why she had a divorce
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:38 PM   #21
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^Do you mean let the interest debt slide or the entire debt?

I do think the lawyer deserves to be paid for his time after spending 9 years on the case (with 3 weeks in trial) and it is important to note that not all lawyers are wealthy as there is a big distinction between elite law and 'regular law'.
Let's say that for an average lawyer, they gross 150k. However, there's so many costs to run a firm: secretary, rent, supplies, office manager, accountant, and possibly a paralegal. Take home pay after taxes might be around ~50-70k.

90,000 over 9 years works out to be about 10,000 per year. I don't think thats unreasonable for legal fees. The compassionate side of me says he should not charge her 18% interest annually because that is what seems to have bloated the total to 180,000.
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:50 PM   #22
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well most lawyers i know provide an hourly rate but make a deal before a case stating that fees won't exceed "x" amount, no interest and depending on the client they wont pursue payments beyond the initial deposit or after a few payments/case is over (hell they'll even do cases for free)

as for the interest rate he's asking for its not extreme at all but it just seems nasty

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Old 12-03-2012, 03:57 PM   #23
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She knew the hourly rate and she should have figured out that as the case dragged on it would cost her. Her lawyer even told her he wouldn't go on without her securing some source of funding. Who wants to work if they are unsure if they would even get paid at all? All the time he spent on her case, he could have worked on another case to get paid.
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:58 PM   #24
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I dislike the title of the thread, its a very broad generalization to say lawyers are the, 'scum of the earth.' Many lawyers are good, moral, fair, honest men and women, who have put a great deal of effort into reaching the position they have in life, and who give back to the community that has helped them achieve success.
Quote:
Originally Posted by van_city23 View Post
well she did agree to the lawyer's terms. If she didn't like them, she should have found another lawyer. He has to get paid as well and technically, she's the client and owes him money. I'm not quite sure how the law works around this but regardless of what the court decides with the husband, i'm sure the lawyer is still entitled to have a claim for his services against his client. I think the lawyer is completely fine asking for what he's owed which was agreed upon before hand. If you don't like the lawyers prices, find an alternative or represent yourself and understand why a good lawyer charges so much.
Agree with these.

From the get-go, people need to weigh their options (namely money out vs money in) before going straight to the "best" lawyer they can find. I always hear about people paying $2000+ for a lawyer to win a case over $500. Sure, sometimes it's about sentiment or principle. But people need to figure out the bulk of the equation before jumping the gun.

And yeah, the title of this thread has no credibility. Like any other profession, there are always the good and the bad.

The corporate lawyer I work closely with is awesome. He doesn't charge for random questions that I have, and doesn't even charge for having to write a couple e-mails or make a couple phone calls. But before meeting him, I've met with some pretty douchey lawyers as well.

I remember one guy I talked to, refused to answer any questions over the phone. He told me if I want to talk, come to his office and bring a blank cheque. These were just simple general incorporation questions too. Just for the hell of it, I asked "how much would it cost, ball park, if I just had a two or three questions?" He replies, "I really can't say. You have to come in and ask." I'm just like, "Um. Ok. Thanks bud."
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:58 PM   #25
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agreed like i said she's either incredibly stupid or a scheming bitch
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