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When you hire counsel and do your homework why is he then allowed to give it to a lesser qualifed attorney on his staff?

Santa Barbara, CA |

when you hire counsel and do your homework why is he then allowed to give it to a lesser qualifed attorney on his staff?

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Attorney answers 5


Different issues are appropriately handled by different people at different levels of experience. It's impossible to handle a caseload without delegating. If you insist that one lawyer should do everything on your case, you are going to have to negotiate that as part of the retainer contract, and you are going to have to pay more.

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That is what happens. The day to day stuff is often given to lesser experienced attorney's/. This is something you need to discuss before you hire the lawyer. I handle all cases myself and it is a fair question to ask who will be handling your case.


Think of the typical legal matter as involving a bundle of different tasks. For instance, you may want the top lawyer you selected to handle the trial, questioning witnesses and making the summation to the jury, but do you want him to be doing all the preparatory work such as going through boxes of old documents provided in discovery or the legal research involved in making a motion (and paying his rate which might be two or three times of the junior attorney or paralegal the matter is delegated to)?

Of course, just like a restauranteur, the attorney you hired is responsible for the final product, so he must hire and supervise competent staff so you're not figuratively getting a bad product if the sous chefs, waitstaff and dishwasher aren't doing their jobs properly.

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If you hire an attorney, as opposed to a law firm, you certainly have the right and expectation that that attorney will handle your case unless your written attorney-client agreement provides otherwise. However, generally, you pay for that privilege because all services will be rendered at that attorney's rate which is usually higher.

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I bill at $465 per hour. My Sr. Associate with ten years or experience bills at $250 per hour. My young associate bills at $165 per hour. My certified paralegal bills at $95 per hour.

A good firm will pick the right person for the right job. The "right person" is not always the person working at $465 per hour. You suggest that giving a project on your matter to another attorney is giving it to a less qualified attorney on the staff. Not true. A less experienced attorney is not necessary the less qualified person to do the task.

I can write good discovery, but I have not done so for a couple of years. I have associate attorneys who do it every day, and are far more qualified to do it than I am, while I am far more qualified to create the discovery strategies, formulate the discovery plan, and review and revise the discovery prepared by my associate to be sure it is consistent with the plan I created.

Very few successful businesses operate without effective delegation. I believe you are being somewhat short-sighted if you think the best way for your case to be handled is to have the one person you first met be the one doing every aspect of the case work.

If that is your expectation, you need to make that clear at the outset. If you go to the dentist, it is rarely the dentist that does the teeth cleaning. If you go to an accountant, it is rarely the CPA the was grinding through the financial documents. If you go to a medical facility, the doctors spend very little time with any particular patient, but the staff takes the blood pressure, pulse and temperature. The point is that business operates through delegation, and you need to expect the same in the law business. If you want something special, like one person working on your case and no one else, you need to make that clear at the outset, and you will likely pay for that service either by paying more money, or having some attorneys simply unwilling to work under those conditions.

Good luck to you.

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Scott Gregory Nathan

Scott Gregory Nathan


Great Answer.

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