Honest scumbag lawyer
In the office building where I worked for Liberty Mutual
there were a few PI (Personal Injury, i.e., probably scumbag) lawyers' offices, one of
which was the firm of a lawyer who used to be a claims adjuster for Liberty Mutual!
(It's not an uncommon phenomenon for claims adjusters to become PI lawyers. They see
how easy it is to make so much money by being on the other side, the dark side. They
continue to work during the day as claims adjusters and, at night or by correspondence
course, they get their law degrees and switch from defender against trumped-up claims to
And, because this particular PI lawyer had a big firm with lots of cases, I handled a lot
of claims where he represented the claimant. One day I gathered up all my cases with
him, called him on the phone, and made an appointment to settle them all, wholesale.
I took the elevator down to his level, and we settled all but one of the files.
Sometimes we traded one claimant's money for another's, which was of course wrong, so
please don't tell on me.
As to the one remaining file, he had arranged to have his client
available for a recorded interview. I had been unable to reconcile the claimant's
injuries and the damage to his bicycle with the insured's version of what happened in this
car versus bicycle accident.
The lawyer had originally told me his version of his client's
version of the accident, and those facts squared with what the client, the claimant, was
saying into my tape recorder. But something still didn't make sense, and the
claimant seemed inexplicably confused when I asked certain questions. He kept
looking at his lawyer, so I'd immediately look at his lawyer to see what he was looking
at. At one point I even said, "I'm interviewing you, Mr. Smith. You can
talk to your lawyer later."
Anyway, after I kept on digging at the facts I eventually
established that the claimant had been riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the road!
Now it all made sense, but the point is that the claimant and his lawyer were
trying their very best to hide that critical fact from me.
As soon as I got that admission on tape I terminated the interview
and thanked the claimant for his time. He left the room and I thought I should scowl
at the lawyer, but I found myself smiling instead. It had dawned on me yet again:
Hey, this is the game we play. This time I won, but it's all a game.
So, one day a few months later I was riding down in the elevator
with an associate at this law firm. We got to talking, and at one point he made the
following admission regarding scumbag lawyers' modus operandi:
"We get as close to
malpractice and disbarment
And that's the truth. As a scumbag PI lawyer, if you want to
maximize your profits and minimize the heavy lifting of actually using your legal
training, you want to get as close to committing malpractice as possible, as often as possible, without getting
caught, and you also want to get as close as possible to being disbarred, as often as possible, without getting
The best scumbag lawyers -- the most successful ones -- spend the most time figuring out how not to
Speaking of scumbags, consider this next story.