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...sounds perfectly reasonable to me; in fact, I wish I'd thought of it myself.

The difference between ordinary mortals and these large institutions is that they have things figured out a lot better than we do. I learned this when I first opened a law office and had to deal with getting telephones installed.

What I noticed was that the phone line, the phone (this was before the breakup of the Bells and deregulation) was rented to me on a monthly basis, as was the line, or, to be more precise, each line of the several we had. Then there was the matter of call-hunting, whereby if the first line was busy, the call would roll over to the next available line. And then the light that told you which button, thus line, was occupied.

All of these cost $X.nn per month. Per month! They got me every month.

Could I charge clients by the month? Say, how long I keep you out of jail? Or delaying judgment day? Or, in immigration practice, how long I kept you from being deported? Seemed like a nice idea from my standpoint,but I didn't think my clients would like it, or the State Bar, which is like our rezident Gestapo, or was until the last guv'nor got p*ssed off at it and de-funded it.

No, the things that are dishonest and unethical for the loyas to do are fine for the phone company.

When I was a kid, no one woulda thought of taking on the phone company. There was only one.

Later Godfrey Cambridge and Lily Tomlin took them on and they wound up getting broken up.

Now they slam you. They steal your account without even asking. Asking is even worse. I got a call tonight at home from ATT wanting me to switch my business, or daytime, phone account to them instead of the pirates I happily patronize the rest of the time.

My choice is Blackbeard or Capt. Kidd. I can have my pick.

It's people like these who give lawyers a good name, if only we can find one to take them on. Fight the phone company? Lawyers depend on the phones. We'd need a helluva big class to make the action worthwhile. Lets, see, suppose everybody kicked in a few bucks 'n' I'll organize the attack. That oughta be worthwhile, dontcha think?

The other genius-billers are the hospitals. I once represented the kids whose parents perished in a fiery auto wreck. Dad died instantly and Mom in a day at the hospital. Her hospital bills, twenty years ago, amounted to $25,000 for a day of hustle and bustle. Every bandage was accounted for, as well as every motion made surrounding her.

Billing by the verb I call it. So much for doing this and so much for doing that. Looking in, injecting, bandaging, X-raying, administering, removing, consulting, interpreting, catheterizing, draining, re-doing, etc., etc., etc. If you could verbalize it, it went into the computer, a price was assigned to it, and you, or the survivors, or, to be more precise, the insurance company got nailed for it. Of course the insurance company collected out of the damages recovery the kids got. If we hadn't have nailed the carrier for bad faith for delaying the settlement we wouldn't have had any fun at all.

So that's how the big boys, the guys with scads of attys and MBAs on the payroll do it. The nail you by the verb.

Try nailing them by the verb and see where it gets you. Your Bernie will be battling their Bernie till the sun goes down on the next decade, with the meter always running. Let's see, received and read letter, telephone conference with opposing counsel, memo to file, memo to client, deposition, summarize deposition, etc., etc., etc.

Some people wonder why I like criminal law. We don't do that there.

Besides, I'd rather represent an honest murderer than a spouse who wants to take his or her ex- for all (s)he's worth, on principle, mind you. You do something for the average murderer and he'll thank you very much for your hard work. Do something for an ex-spouse who thinks he has it coming and he wonders why it took you so long, and why he has to pay you at all, since he had it coming in the first place.

Of all the criminal lawyers portrayed on tv, I like Rumpole the best.


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