Nothing for Nothing


On Monday, I was hired by a man’s father to represent the man on a serious felony case.

When I say, “I was hired” here I mean that the father and I agreed on a fee for my representation, and the man approved my representation. We had, in other words, a contract.

It was not a written contract, but this is Texas, where we do business on our word (see, e.g., Pennzoil v. Texaco), and I had no reason to think that the father wouldn’t comply, so I went to court for the man. I spoke with the prosecutor about the case, arranged for a bail hearing, and drafted and filed a writ of habeas corpus.

Tuesday morning—I’m sure my fellow CDLs saw this coming—the father called me and told me that his local law firm had recommended a Houston firm, and they would be going with that firm. Tuesday night, the father sent me this email:

Let me again thank you for your help on such short notice…. We have been able to engage a lawyer from [website] through our long term local law firm. He will be with [my son] for his court date on [date]. In closing, I wanted to comment on your slogan, “Just Lawyers Helping People”; it is very nice (and unusual) in today’s world to find someone who does walk the walk.

Maybe it’s just because I am a man of my word, but I haven’t found it at all unusual in today’s world to find lots of folks who “walk the walk” and help people when they need it. When your word is worthless, I guess things are different. When you walk away from your promises, I guess it’s fair that people aren’t eager to help you out.


11 responses to “Nothing for Nothing”

  1. I’m a bit confused. The father was on board. The son was on board. You were on board. No money changed hands before you walked into the courtroom. Did you miss that day in law school?

  2. Is he going to pay you SOMETHING for your troubles? Did the other lawyer tell him you charged too much?

  3. Mark- you are a man of your word. The father is not. That might explain why his son has a serious felony. Anyway, you are better off and they are worse off and that my friend is Karma.

    Robb Fickman

  4. I say Ouch. That hurts.

    I go into stand between someone’s son and the whole machinery of the state. I stand between them, through my long local history of literally pulling cops off of talking to my clients, pulling clients out of cops offices, jumping out of my car to stop conversations between my clients and cops.

    These are all very indigent. They know who is fighting for them. Whether they can pay or not, and it’s always not.

    It’s the middle class and above who call me in the middle of the night or in my moments of solace, or even while I am holding my sick animal at the vet’s office, and want me to save their kid or cousin, or whomever. When their crisis passes, they show up in court with some out of town lawyer has collected a nice fee. Oh well.

    It’s a pass it on thing. People having to do with law give of their ranches, their horse barns, and trailers, their spaces that replenish my soul. I have nothing to give to them, so what I have, goes to those who need what I have to give. I think that’s how it works.

    • I meant “people having NOTHING to do with law”give of their ranches and spaces……..

      Pay it forward?

  5. it is strange that his ‘local’ attorney would recommend someone else if the father had already stated you were in a verbal contract with him, isn’t it?

    While I am sure that a handshake isn’t binding in most circles, and the head nod agreement has lost alot of what it used to be; Doesn’t the initial appearance in court and as attorney of record count for anything?

  6. There are so many variations of this scenario. I have been replaced after getting a great deal all worked out. I have been replaced despite being very experienced & board certified by some total knucklehead because I am court-appointed. I figure karma or God or whatever gives everybody the lawyer they truly deserve. Namaste.

  7. Brother, I absolutely will not put my name on a Defendant’s case until the retainer is in my hands–no exceptions—well, not anymore anyway–I used to rely on people’s word that they were going to pay me only to be disappointed so many times that I stopped trusting people. I’ve been burned so many times, especially when it comes to MNT and direct appeal work.
    Anyway I try my very best to do what I say I’m going to do when I say that I’m going to do it. You’re a good man MB.

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