Yes, you read that correctly.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, an attorney.
However, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the legal profession, and I think I'm qualified to write about this subject for a number of reasons:
1) I took the LSAT in 2010 and scored in the 95th percentile (I'm only allowed to brag about it because I don't plan on applying to law school).
2) I interned for 3 weeks at a small law firm in Columbus when I was 19, and
3) Like all rational and intelligent Americans, I am a HUGE fan of Law & Order.
So, suffice it to say, I'm something of a legal expert.
You would think that the decline in available jobs would mean the decline in demand for legal help, but this is simply not so. Everyday people still need legal assistance for all manner of things, and often don't know where to turn.
Below are just a few examples of times when having a lawyer would really come in handy:
- Dealing with a non-responsive landlord
- Dealing with a contractor/developer who's in breach of contract
- Understanding your rights when dealt unnecessary force by a police officer (black men know a little something about that...)
- Suing your neighbors' baby for crying every morning at 3:30 am on the dot*
a) scan the internet for a lawyer (a Google search for lawyers in NYC returns 89 million results)
b) ask a lawyer friend for help (your lawyer friend does not want to help)
c) use a website like justanswer.com or freeadvice.com to get quick but extremely impersonal advice from a lawyer online
d) do nothing
I usually end up choosing option d, but only after a lot of fist-waving and door-slamming.
The problem with having a lawyer on retainer is that it's extremely expensive. I mean...those Armani suits don't pay for themselves. Which brings me to my next BIG idea:
LEGAL ASSISTANCE TIME SHARE
Here's how it would work:
1) Individual lawyers would offer up their time and services time-share style, and list them on our website. (Since lawyers typically bill by the hour, they'd list the number of annual hours that are available to be split.)
2) You'd peruse the site, find the lawyer who's skill, availability and price best match what you're looking for, and offer to pay for a portion of their available hours.
3) Once an agreement was reached, you'd be able to allocate those hours to whatever issues arise during the year. And like a timeshare, hours not used would be non-refundable.
The way I envision this working, most of the lawyers would be on the younger side. You know - all those guys who just graduated from law school and are currently working at Pizza Hut. I see this service being a stepping stone - a way for the young guys to get their feet wet working smaller cases, while still pursuing other, cushier jobs to pay for those Armani suits. I also envision the services being offered at well below the average retainer prices. Like I said, we're talking about the Pizza Hut waiters, not Johnny Cochran, so I'm thinking they'll be open to price negotiation.
These are obviously questions I'd have to think about. But let's not get bogged down with the nitty gritty details. If you're like me, you've been waiting for the chance to sic your lawyer on someone since you could TALK. And now's your chance.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, friends. Til next time...
*This may or may not actually be a crime. I've got people looking into it.