Friday, June 2, 2023 | Back issues
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Clients Matter

How are law firms like public schools?

If you want to do well, you need better clients (or students).

OK, that's pretty obvious, but the Ninth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals came up with a pretty interesting illustration of the concept in a ruling called In Re Roberto Cohen v. United States District Court.

This was one of those pile-on stockholder cases in which a bunch of law firms filed class actions over the same thing and the trial court had to decide who would be lead plaintiff and lead counsel.

In this case, the trial judge decided to split the baby - it appointed two lead plaintiffs and two lead counsels. One of the lead counsels didn't represent either of the lead plaintiffs so, naturally, the lead plaintiff whose lawyer didn't get picked, appealed.

Hmm. Wonder on whose behalf the appeal was really filed ....

Anyhow, the moral of the story is that if you want to be lead counsel, you need to pick the best plaintiff. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the lead plaintiff - chosen for having the most at stake in the case - gets to pick his/her lawyer.

So if you want to keep your financial scores up, you've got to recruit the very best clients.

Think of it as No Client Left Behind.

DORM LIFE. Getting a roommate assigned to you can be pretty nerve-wracking because you never know what you're going to get. After all, it could be a cranky octogenarian.

Really. It could.

Especially if you're a federal magistrate.

In case you missed it, Congress has decided that if it's going to pay for new courthouses, senior judges and magistrates will have to share courtrooms in them.

This may seem a bit odd. After all, freshmen usually share with freshmen. Why shouldn't magistrates be sharing courtrooms with other magistrates?

Unfortunately, assuming doubling up is required, that would mean the senior guys would be sharing too. Try to picture two godlike judicial octogenarians trying to get along. The courthouse might explode.

So seniors and freshmen are going to have to figure out how to get along. This is not going to be easy.

I'm not going to suggest anything for the seniors. They wouldn't pay any attention anyway.

But here are a few tips for the magistrates:

Stay out of the courtroom if there's a sock on the door handle. It probably means the old guy is working on his bunions and no one wants to see that.

Don't nag the senior about the used briefs piling up on his side of the room. But you can toss them out the window when he's not around. He'll probably think he forgot where he put them.

Clear out of chambers if the senior brings home a date. Then put the medical staff on heart attack alert.

WHAT WERE THEY DOING? My favorite sentence of the week from a Los Angeles Superior Court suit:

"Again, the couple immediately sought to create a family based on efforts initiated even before their second wedding date."

Nobody ever said family creation was effortless.

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