Dream of: 09 July 2004 "Too Many Lawyers"
Jon had asked me to help him with a legal problem. He and I were sitting at a long table with several other attorneys who were also helping him. Jon looked young (perhaps 30 years old) and he was neatly dressed in suit and tie. He sat quietly as the lawyers discussed his problem.
I wasn't precisely sure what the problem was. Clearly, however, Jon was trying to buy a piece of real estate and a problem had arisen with the contract. One of the lawyers suggested Jon might only buy a 50% interest in the property. The idea sounded ludicrous to me. A suggestion was also made that Jon pay a higher interest rate. That idea also sounded insipid -- even a slight rise in interest could mount to thousands of extra dollars over a period of time.
The other lawyers were avidly researching the problem. I was handed several volumes of old Texas statutes, which I grimly left sitting in front of me. I knew the Texas laws had been revised in recent years and I doubted these old statutes were still valid. Besides, I was unhappy by the direction this affair was taking: too many lawyers.
O'Connor (a Dallas attorney who had once opposed me in a civil trial) was among the present. I knew she commanded high dollar for her time. I figured I would probably charge Jon $150 an hour for my time, if I charged him at all. These other lawyers, however, would charge at least $150 an hour, perhaps $250, perhaps even more. I quickly concluded the main problem was no longer the contract itself, but the lawyers' fees Jon would have to pay.
My alarm was augmented when a second crew of lawyers arrived on the scene to replace the first gang. With the arrival of the second shift, a decision was made to adjourn to another building, and we all stood and headed for the door.
I wanted to have a private conference with Jon. Before we reached the door, I had a chance to talk to him. I explained that he needed to fire these lawyers, that the attorneys' fees would be far more than the cost of the problem itself. These attorneys would gouge him as much as they could, as long as he allowed it. I explained that I alone should be able to resolve the problem. (One other lawyer, a black fellow named Reginald, also seemed capable of handling the problem himself. If Jon preferred, I thought he could possibly use Reginald instead of me).
I also explained that I was distraught by the direction the lawyers were taking: they were already in combative mode without having even discussed the matter with the other party. I told Jon we first needed to negotiate with the other party before becoming bogged down in all the legal mumbo-jumbo.
Jon said nothing. He seemed distracted, as if he couldn't make a decision, as if he had already set sail on one course and couldn't change directions.
When we stepped outside the building, we seemed to be coming out of the ornate brownstone Capital Building in Austin. The stone stairs were crowded with people. I climbed unto the stone banister, intending to drop myself over the side. Suddenly, however, someone on the lawn below bellowed gruffly. I looked and saw a black policeman (probably in his late 20s) walking toward me. I remained sitting on the banister as he approached me and pulled out his ticket book. He sneered (fully inflated by his authority) as he began writing a ticket. After he handed me a ticket, he also wrote one out for Jon, who had also sat down on the banister.
When the policeman had finished, Jon and I continued our descent down the stone steps. I again picked up my argument about why he should dismiss the other attorneys.
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