Monday, February 6, 2012

Collecting on that Super Bowl bet

I've been blindsided by a pretty nasty head cold for the past week or so, which has made court appearances more unbearable than normal.  In the midst of my misery, I met with some interesting new clients, one of whom had impressively represented himself in court so far.  While you can't use his tactics to collect on that super bowl bet with your wayward cousin who never actually pays up, he is still a good reminder that you can make the system work for yourself.

At the heart of his problem was a dispute with his old landlord.  When he was unable to work out the issues with the company directly, he took the landlord to court to collect money that he felt was owed to him.  The company hired an attorney and tried a variety of litigation "tricks" to beat the litigant representing himself.  When all of those failed, he still showed up at court on the date that the case was supposed to go to trial and, when the landlord's attorney tried to get an adjournment, he stood up and told the court he was ready to proceed.  Against an unprepared adversary, even a person representing himself stands a good chance and this man beat a seasoned attorney at trial and won a judgment.  Not surprisingly, the landlord has refused to pay any money and that's how this individual ended up in my office.

In most of the cases I have dealt with over the years, the client comes to you with a much more convoluted story and many legal issues that cause barriers to the simple collection of their debt.  This client, however, has done the work, received a judgment with interest, and just needs assistance collecting the debt.  In fact, at the meeting, he even told me that he had gone to the web and downloaded forms for information subpoenas to assist in finding the landlord's assets.  My initial reaction, and we joked about it, was why in the world does he even need an attorney, he seems to be on the right track.  But as he pointed out, he knows nothing of collection practice and that he would rather hire an attorney and do it right so as to close this chapter of his life.

When your cousin refuses to pay up on his Super Bowl bet, you probably shouldn't go to the courthouse and file a lawsuit against him, but it never hurts to remember that a little hard work and preparation will be respected by the courts and can put you in a great position to collect on your debts.

For more information on collecting on your debt or to schedule a consultation, please call the office (718.568.0221) or visit my website ( for more information.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

That Late Night Call

I had lunch with a fellow attorney the other day who practices in an area of law that has no court appearances, no real client contact, just a lot of legislation and other transactional work. When we discussed how we could both expand our practices, he made an interesting admission to me that he didn't even really know how to do a client consultation and wouldn't know what to do with himself if he had to do a court appearance.

As we discussed it further, I realized that he has the wonderful ability to go home at night and not have to be ready for that "late night call" - the one you always see in the television shows and late-night commercials.  The one where the client is in dire straights and you're the person they call to get them out of the mess they are in at 3 in the morning.

Years ago, if the client did not have your home number or cell phone number, they would be forced to leave a number and hope that you would call them back.  With all the advancements in technology, I am at least able to relax (a relative term while the family blasts Glee) during the evening with the knowledge that if anyone needs to find me, even a call to my office number can find me and, if I'm not available, can immediately alert me of a message or call from a client.

Last night was one of those evenings where I was relaxing and enjoying myself when the call got re-routed  and I was on the phone with a friend, who is also an attorney, because child protective services was on the way to his client's home and they needed someone to talk to.  As he doesn't have a significant background in family law, I was the one who got the call to help him walk his client through it and be there on the back end in case more legal work was done.

Luckily, all involved will be able to sleep tonight and with all of the wonderful technology these days, we no longer need to fear that late night call.