This is part two of my experiences with people in the real estate business. I continue with real-life examples of solicitors.
I have always believed that a solicitor should represent the client’s interest vehemently and above all else. I have come across two solicitors who gave precedence to their “friendship” with an involved party over the client’s interest. I would term such “friendship” a “profitable alliance”, as the “friend” is merely a person with whom they expect to have a longer-term, ongoing profitable relationship as opposed to a one-time client.
In the first case, the solicitor who is also a landlord leasing his own property through this broker “friend” of his, wrote to me,
I have an ongoing relationship with [my friend]. I am not prepared to act in any way which adversely affects that long term relationship. Consequently, I am reluctant to act for you with respect to the request which you made regarding [my friend].
This was a simple matter of the “friend” splitting the legal costs with me since we were to equally share the potential settlement funds; and to which arrangement the “friend” had agreed, and that is exactly how it went down, albeit with another solicitor. But what about my time and costs for the other solicitor to review the case from scratch, having to pay legal fees and explain the case all over again? If such are the ethics of a Queen’s Counsel, it corroborates my belief that a rat by any other name is still a rat.
In the second case, I represented the vendor in a sale and purchase transaction that had closed. My solicitor continued forwarding requests when originating from the purchaser as a favour to my broker who in this case was the “friend”, who in turn was doing this on the behest of the purchaser’s broker who was his “friend”. When it came to my single request of my solicitor, to similarly forward my reply to the purchaser in response to their notice of claim, it met with the response,
Your file is closed. I have 300 other clients to take care of now.
I say if you have 300 or 800 or “whatever the magic number of the day is” clients and my file is closed, why is your valve still open in one direction?
One of my not-too-bitter experiences was with a solicitor who gave precedence to his image over the client’s interest. He did not want to argue my case to an extent that might lower his esteem in the eyes of a judge as he apparently banks on their favour.
Then there are the rude ones, who believe that they are entitled to any amount of money and treat their clients or prospective clients like dirt, because they foster the fallacious belief that they offer superior representation and clients are inferior beings. I once asked a solicitor of a prominent law firm if he would be willing to cap his fee. His response was that there are lawyers out there who would be willing to cap the fee if I am looking to cheap out, but if I want a good defense the fee would be whatever it takes, with a minimum $5,000 retainer and tens of thousands of dollars in trial.
Do these lawyers think we are stupid enough to pay them that much, that too in a civil matter which could be settled (with no risk of an appeal) for much less? They don’t tell you that, because they profit more from a trial.
To be continued…