Tuesday, February 2, 2010

'The Wisdom of Gerry Kelly' and (Payments to Lawyers, 1 Feb.).

This was sent into The Irish Times (letters) on Tues. 2 Feb. 2010

Payments to lawyers

'The Wisdom of Gerry Kelly' and (Payments to Lawyers, 1 Feb.).

Gerry and I were Vietnam veterans in Boston during the 1980's. He was an army vet; I
was a Marine Corps vet, but I didn't hold it against him;-) He died from
Agent Orange in 1988.

He was one of the smartest, and funniest persons I have ever known,
or as he said 'there's a fine line between genius and crazyiness and I'm a just
a bit over the edge, but I don't mind...I'm smarter than most...and we have a
good time'. But he knew many lawyers and offered this advice on lawyers.

When I got a legal bill for over $2,700 Gerry said 'pay them half that'. I said 'Why?'
And, he said 'lawyers always charge you double because they figure you're gonna
screw them anyway and just pay half. Give them $1,400; they'll be happy.' I paid
them $2,200 over 10 years.

They had helped me when I was leaving work on a disability. After I got out
the lawyer, Mike, a nice Irish-American, asked if I could settle up the bill of $2,700.
I said, "Mike, I don't have a job anymore. You helped me and i'm grateful, but
how can I pay the firm?" My income has been cut by 60%." He hung his head.
Thank you Gerry:-)

When Gerry was arrested for on a murder charge (innocent-a priest said another man told him he did it) he had to meet his lawyer, (a Mr. F-a long term friend) in a fancy Boston restaurant to hand over $15,000 as a retainer. He had just received a disability settlement of $17,000. Gerry was broke, and owed many friends. So, he asked his best friend, me, do him a big favour...to wait in the bathroom stall and whack the lawyer friend went he went for a piss with the nice blackjack he admired, and take the money back. I said 'No'. because Mr. F would know, and be thinking about it when writing his summation to the jury.

The lawyer took the money, ordered pastry and coffee for Gerry (while he held his hand)and left quickly. No bathroom visit.

His lawyer died from cancer in under four months. When he took Gerry's $15,000
he knew he would be dead before the trial. Gerry couldn't get the money back because
on paper Mr. F was quite poor, but his wife was rich. Everything was in her name, and
his once successful business seemed to be bankrupt! I always wondered if I made the
right decision. But, for the life of me I can't imagine why Gerry thought that I was even
capable of such a thing:-)

Fast forward to several + years ago. A student in the law programme I was in got a summer internship with a law firm in Cork . He had to draw up a new contract for a long term client. It was for the client 's business and his client. The intern was told he could get a blank contract right off the internet, use the old one as a guide, and put in the new figures etc. He asked how much it would cost...like €500? The Solicitor told him 'No'. You charge the same amount as if you did it from scratch...closer to €5,000!

Yet, I have know and respected many lawyers in my life.

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