We are Chicago attorneys who will talk to you for free to answer any question you have or help you find the right lawyer for your case.  Call us any time at (312) 346-5320.  The service is free and we cover all of Illinois. Since 2001 we’ve helped more than 350,000 people and we would be thrilled to help you too.

Nobody wants to pay for a lawyer if they don’t have to.  Legal fees can be really expensive and in some cases even if you win, it feels like you lost and the only real winner is the attorney who took all of your money.

Because of this, we get a lot of calls from people looking for an attorney in Illinois who will work on consignment.  This is also known as contingency or “paid if you win.”  Essentially you don’t pay the attorney anything up front, but if they win the case, they get a percentage of what they recover for you, usually 1/3, but it can be more or less depending on the type of case and what you negotiate with them.  It’s risk/reward for them and you.

This type of fee isn’t available in all cases.  First, it can’t happen if you are in a case where money won’t be recovered such as a criminal case or when you are being sued.  It’s also not allowed by law in a divorce or custody case.  Attorneys typically don’t do it as well when the dollar amounts are small. In other words, if you are suing for $1,500, it’s not usually worth it to work on consignment.

So what types of cases can you get a lawyer who only gets paid if they win?

The most common cases are injury cases.  Car accidents, job injuries, medical malpractice, etc.  Every lawyer we know and recommend is consignment for those cases. If an attorney for an injury case asks you for up front money, you should run away.  It also happens with nursing home abuse, legal malpractice, social security claims (once you’ve been denied twice) and with class action lawsuits.

You can also get contingency attorneys in Illinois for some will contests (if the dollars are big enough), consumer fraud cases, some collection cases (when the defendant has money and your case is strong) and in some commercial litigation claims although when you are also being sued it makes finding an attorney much more challenging.

Bottom line is that there are consignment lawyers out there in Illinois.  If you would like our help in finding one, contact us at any time.

I got a call from a really nice woman who had a civil matter in Tennessee that she needed legal help with.  She lived in Tennessee, but told me that she wanted an Illinois lawyer because, “All of the lawyers down here are connected and know each other.”

I explained to her that it would cost and arm and a leg to get an Illinois law firm to go to TN and that even if cost wasn’t an issue, unless it was a unique case like a trucking crash, getting someone local was a better idea.

It got me thinking though (do I write like Carrie Bradshaw), do people in Illinois worry that all of the lawyers are connected?

First off, there are over 90,000 people licensed to practice law in IL, 70,000+ of whom reside here.  In Cook County alone there are about 40,000 attorneys.  My job is to network with lawyers and even as someone who knows more lawyers than most people, I bet I don’t know more than 1,500 or so.

The point is that we aren’t all connected and even if we were, it’s not like we sit around and talk about selling out our clients because we are buddies.  Some of the most legendary battles at the Daley Center involve prominent plaintiff and defense lawyers who battle tooth and nail and then when the trial is over they’ll meet up for a cocktail or dinner.

Most of us are competitors.  It’s no different than if I was playing against a friend in basketball.  I play to win.  We also are businessmen and women.  Not so hidden secret, attorneys like to make money. If we sold out our clients for our friends then we’d not make as much and we’d probably lose the client.  I promise you that this just does not happen.

Beyond all of this, if we got caught doing what this caller alleged, we’d lose our license to practice law.  So to believe these theories, you’d have to believe I’d be willing to lose my career just so a friend looks good.

I get why people feel this way, especially when they think they have a great case, but can’t get representation or when the case isn’t going their way.  You might have hired the wrong firm for you or maybe you don’t really have a good case or maybe you just need to look more.  Whatever the reason, I guarantee you that we aren’t colluding against you or working with the other side.  Even the crappy attorneys who I’d never recommend don’t do this stuff.

Have you ever thought of drawing up a written agreement between you and your partner for anything that could be legally related, but decided not to because “it’s not a real contract”? As one woman in Cook County found out, written agreements do in fact matter.

A woman in Cook County filed a lawsuit for child support for her twins. In most instances, this would be an easy fix. There is a father, and child support payments would be ordered. This is not the typical case. The man in this case wanted to be a sperm donor only, and in 2012 the parties signed an agreement as such which relinquished all of his parental rights and obligations. Again, not being the typical case, this couple also engaged in a sexual relationship during this time.

If it were to be proven that the twins in question were conceived during natural intercourse, the father would be held responsible for support of the kids. If it were proven they were conceived instead through IVF, the signed written agreement would be enforceable relinquishing his rights as the parties had agreed upon in writing.

In this case, the judge ordered that the parties split all costs and fees associated with determining a better timeline to pinpoint the conception. This order caused the woman to drop her case. The mom in this case said that there was no point in proceeding because she already knew that the kids were conceived during the IVF process. She apparently had not been completely honest with her attorney when they decided to file the Petition for Child Support.

Honesty and written agreements do matter. While a written agreement may not constitute an actual contract, they do show what the party’s intent was at the time of negotiation. Had this just been a verbal contract or agreement between the two of them, it’s much more likely that the Dad would in fact be on the hook for child support. The contract literally saved him tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Most people don’t enter in to contracts because they are trusting, don’t want to offend someone or think it will cost a lot to do so. The reality is that you can be trusting, but smart and protect yourself. You can’t worry about offending anyone when you are looking out for your best interests. And most of these contracts are simple and many don’t even require a lawyer.

Getting agreements in writing is what banks do, car dealers do, real estate agents do and anyone else who is smart does as well. Protect yourself by getting it in writing. If you don’t it could cost you a ton in the long run.

While people call me to help them find a lawyer, I actually offer two services with my website. It’s lawyer referrals AND legal guidance. By that I mean that I will give you my opinion of what should happen on your case and often that means telling you that you don’t need a lawyer.

Some people aren’t happy with that advice and are usually talking out of emotion instead of logic. A good lawyer takes the emotion out of a situation and offers objective advice. So for example, I had someone call me who was furious that their friend had borrowed $200.00 from them and hadn’t paid it back. They wanted an attorney no matter what it costs because to them this was about justice.

I tried to reason with them and make clear that while they could sue their former friend in small claims court, paying an attorney would be a waste. They’d likely spend $1,500.00 or more to recover $200.00 which when you aren’t angry clearly makes no sense.

There are hundreds of other examples I could give. Sometimes small claims court makes sense. Other times (especially if you live out of state), you just have to take the loss and move on.

Even in more serious matters, sometimes getting a lawyer isn’t worth it. For example, when someone calls us for an Illinois medical malpractice attorney, we can agree that a doctor or hospital was negligent, but also end up telling you that we don’t know a lawyer for your case. That’s because many people don’t have (fortunately for them) big damages which would justify the costs of a malpractice lawsuit.

In other words, it can cost more than $100,000.00 to go to trial in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois. Just because a doctor was negligent does not mean that their insurance company will pay you anything voluntarily. So if we sue that doctor and you have only $50,000.00 in damages, we’d likely have to spend more than we can recover to take on the case which makes it not worth the while. Essentially we’d be going to trial in order to get our expenses back. You’d end up with nothing in the end.

In those situations small claims court isn’t a realistic option so all you can do is report the doctor to the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations, but realistically nothing is going to happen.

None of this is fair of course, but while we want justice in every instance where it’s possible, the hard truth is that just doesn’t happen.

When people call me for Illinois legal advice, I tell them the number one thing to do is be honest. It helps their case and helps their credibility. And of course it’s just the right thing to do. So I’m always surprised when there are attorneys who don’t follow the same rule. Or I guess I’m not surprised. Three examples lately have puzzled me.

Attorney #1 told a potential client that he could get his whole record cleared within 35 days tops. That surprised the client as he had heard different from other attorneys so he called me to find out the truth. Unfortunately this attorney was either lying or just making stuff up because the minimum time for a challenge to sealing or expunging your record is 60 days and even then the process takes 4-6 months on average from beginning to end. But some lawyers will just tell clients what they want to hear in order to get a case.

Attorney #2 is apparently short on money or burned out from the legal profession because he is teaching grammar school part time. But he assures his potential criminal defense clients that this other job won’t impact his ability to help them. Really??? What happens on the days that he needs to be in school and in court? Aren’t his relationships with prosecutors and Judges going to be lessened because he isn’t around them as much? If this attorney was honest with himself as well as the client of his that was freaked out about the teaching job, he would admit that you can’t be great at two things at once. Attorneys do get burned out on the law at times and some choose to leave the profession for other jobs. That’s fine, but don’t hurt others. Be honest and don’t take on cases that you shouldn’t handle.

Attorney #3 promotes himself heavily and talks about all of the great work that he does for clients. But the truth is that he’s just an incredible marketer and never actually goes to court. The lawyers that work for him do, but many people hire them on the belief that the main guy will be in their corner. That’s not at all true, at least not according to the many people who have fired him and called me for advice. But this guy apparently has no moral compass or is able to ignore it because he makes millions off of his brilliant self promotion.

For you as a potential client of any lawyer, the lesson is that while most lawyers are legit, not everyone is. You won’t offend them if you ask tough questions about them and verify what they do, who will handle your case, what to expect, etc. And if they have a problem with it you should find someone else.

When I was younger, I assumed that if you hired a lawyer, you were also hiring everyone that they worked with. Why else would a group of people share an office together and represent themselves as one big firm if it wasn’t the case?

What I’ve learned is that a lot of times, law firms are essentially a group of individuals under one banner, but not really a partnership. It’s similar I’ve learned to a lot of doctor groups in that they essentially “eat what they kill.” In other words, it’s not a collaboration, but instead they make money off the cases that they work on. So they end up with a motivation to work on certain cases over others because their hard work only pays off if they collect a lot of money.

I’ve know this about doctors for a while, but only recently learned this is also true for lawyers. It came to my attention when a top Chicago personal injury attorney left his firm for another firm of great reputation. I wondered why he would make what is at best a lateral move and that’s when I discovered that he wouldn’t really be working for the new firm as much as he would be trying to make more money off of the cases that he generates.

It’s financially sensible for the attorneys and doctors, but not so great for the clients and patients. For doctors, while the ones I know still talk about cases with their “partners” when asked, they also don’t worry about anything other than their own patient list. The same holds true for lawyers, but I think it’s worse in those cases. Let me explain.

Lawyers get paid a salary and also a percentage on the cases they bring in and the cases that they work on. If you are a personal injury lawyer and have a case that you think is worth $3 million, that means the lawyer fees would be worth $1 million. If you bring in more lawyers to work on the case, it’s better for the case and better for the client. But to do that, you have to give up a good chunk of your fee. In other words, by doing what is best for the client you might cost yourself $100,000.00 or more.

I’m sure in some of these fake partnerships there are lawyers who do the right thing every time. I’m also sure that there are many who don’t. There are a lot of stories around town of law partners who hate each other, but stay together because their firm name has brand value which they don’t want to lose. Before you hire a firm, especially if you have a major injury case or something complex that will require multiple lawyers like a truck accident, verify who will be working on your case and if the firm is really a firm.

Dating is almost like a dirty word at any age. Especially in the fast paced swipe-right-or-left-to-meet-your-match society we live in today. Every single person is looking for the magic answer on how to find your perfect partner and truth be told it doesn’t exist. Nor is any avenue truly 100% safe. However, a few dating sites are being held accountable for not having safer policies.

If you were to sign up for a profile for Match.com today, it would cost you approx. $30 if you wanted to use the service for a month. Once you have paid the fees for the duration of time you would like to be a member, they make it very easy for you to scope out all of the people who fit your interest criteria. You complete your profile, likes and dislikes and maybe even throw in a deal breaker or two, decide on the picture that makes you look the best and bam… almost instantly you receive your first message from a possible suitor.

The butterflies and excitement take over as you set up your first date before you realize, wait a second… I didn’t have to give any sort of documentation to prove who I am, my background, and criminal history. If I didn’t, then the other person didn’t have to either. Reason being, services like Match.com do not filter out information posted on their website. They don’t run background checks, and they don’t check for accuracy in information.

However, one thing has changed thanks to a lawsuit that came to a settlement recently. The basic story to the lawsuit is that Jane Doe #1 went out on a date with a man she met on Match.com, who ended up allegedly sexually abusing her. After the alleged attack, Jane Doe #1 found that the man still had a profile running on Match.com. Jane Doe #1 alerted Match.com to the allegations. Match.com did nothing and allowed the man to continue using its services.

Jane Doe #2 met the same man through Match.com two years later, and he sexually attacked her as well. Two years later the man was convicted of criminal sexual abuse and unlawful restraint for his attack on Jane Doe #2. Jane #2 then sued Match.com for failure to remove the man’s profile, monitor his use, failure to notify police or warn other users about him. Her attack could have been avoided if Match.com would have done some sort of blocking of the man’s use of the site.

Through this lawsuit, it was found that more than 1200 complaints from straight violence to rape, were filed in a 2-year time frame with Match.com. While Match.com may not have to go through and check who is lying about being married, or who has a criminal past upon first registration, they do have to now verify any and all complaints made to make sure they uphold the safety of its users.

All of us know, dating is scary enough without having to worry about cases like this one. While it still doesn’t provide fool proof safety, it certainly helps at least a little bit to know there is a check in place. Safety on the internet is something that will never come with 100% certainty, so the best option is to always look out for yourself before agreeing to meet anyone in person that you have been speaking to online.

I’ve started to become a student of positive psychology.  I talk to scores of people every day as I’m one of the few attorneys who will talk to anyone about any Illinois legal matter.  When you do that it can test your patience because many callers don’t want to hear the truth (e.g. me telling them why they don’t have a good case), but instead want to have someone tell them that they are definitely going to win.  One thing I vowed when I started this service almost 15 years ago was that I’d always tell the truth.  You may not like what I have to say, but you’ll always get a blunt, honest opinion.

Spending my day telling people the truth often leads to them telling me thank you.  Some people on the other hand don’t like it and since we are usually talking over the phone instead of face to face, they use it as an opportunity to tell me that I’m an idiot and have no idea what I’m talking about.  Others tell me that they’ll call around until they find a lawyer who will help them even if I let them know that if we took money from them we’d essentially be robbing them.

I used to be bothered by these people, but for the most part I’m over it.  Yet there were times when I’d be defensive and if someone was yelling at me, I’d give it right back to them.  That’s not who I strive to be and I’ve gotten better at remembering that these people for the most part want their lives to improve.

As I’ve started to study positive psychology, very basically of course, I stumbled upon a great book called The Happiness Advantage.  It’s written by a Harvard professor, Shawn Anchor, who consults with companies to improve morale.  He writes about how we can change negative attitudes and become happier in our own lives.  One of the main principles is that we chase things that we think will make us happy like success and money when the reality is that being happy will lead to those things.

I see this a lot with some of the miserable lawyers that I come across.  It’s stunning how many (usually older) men hate their jobs as lawyers and treat people, including their clients, like jerks.  Can you imagine having someone write you a check for $5,000.00 and then basically tell them what a piece of crap they are?  A lot of attorneys act that way and I’ve always sworn that I would never let myself get that way.  So far, so good.  I like my job and coming to work.  Too many of these guys come off as if they are trapped because they either aren’t qualified to do anything else or just don’t want to give up the great paycheck which of course doesn’t make them happy.

In the book, Anchor notes that lawyers have 3.6 times the depression rate as other employees.  I believe it.  It’s basically a hazard of the job.  And the reason it makes lawyers in to jerks in their professional lives is that we are trained to be combative and questioning.  Many lawyers admit that they end up having trouble talking to their kids without deposing them.  When they argue with their spouses it’s a cross examination.   We are also trained to look for flaws and not be accepting of what someone else has to say.  It’s part of what makes a great lawyer, but it also can turn them in to a terrible, unhappy person in their personal and professional life.

As a result of all of this, attorneys have a higher rate of drug use and alcoholism than the general public. We divorce at a higher rate too.  On the flip side, we make more money than most people, but that doesn’t make lawyers happy.

So what happens is lawyers either retire early or leave the profession because they know it or they act miserable.  If your attorney is acting like a jerk, you know why now, but I wouldn’t expect them to turn things around and start treating you well.

My .02 is that if you can’t take working with someone who doesn’t treat you like you deserve to be treated, look around to see if you can find someone better. In most cases you can switch attorneys without a penalty.  You are the customer and while the reason lawyers end up acting this way is explainable, it doesn’t make it right.

 

 

We represent and help a lot of people who have been injured in car accidents via our state wide network of Illinois attorneys.  One of the crazy truths about these lawsuits is that you can have the worst injury imaginable or even death, but if you weren’t hit by someone with a lot of insurance then you are out of luck.

Take the great comedian/actor Tracy Morgan who suffered massive injuries when the limousine he was riding in was rear-ended by a truck driver who hadn’t slept for 28 hours.  That driver was working for Walmart, so there was essentially an endless amount of insurance coverage.  While the settlement in that case was confidential, you can bet that Morgan and the other victims got millions of dollars to compensate them for their lost wages, pain and suffering and medical bills.  Morgan probably lost out on eight figures worth of work and because he was hit by a defendant that is a huge company, there was no worry about there being enough money to cover all the losses.

On the other hand, had they been hit by a teenager with $20,000.00 in insurance coverage, that is all they would get unless there is an uninsured motorist coverage policy.  Getting hit by a car at any time is usually bad luck, but in these cases getting paid is really just the luck of the draw.

There are other laws which don’t seem to be fair either.  Lets talk about three of them.

The first one I don’t feel that bad about, but if you drive someone to a bank to rob it and sit in the car the whole time, if they murder a teller or anyone else, you can get charged with first degree murder.  The law is essentially that if you agreed to participate in a felony then you are responsible for anything that happens during that felony even if you had nothing to do with it or no knowledge or desire to participate.  You could have been pressured to be “just the driver” and spend the rest of your life in jail.

When it comes to DUI’s, did you know that in Illinois you could choose not to drive because you know you are drunk and instead sleep in the back of your car, but still get a DUI? You could also get one while standing outside the car if you have the keys on you. The law is that if you have control of the vehicle and are drunk, you can be charged.  It’s an absurd law that does not encourage good behavior or smart decision making.  Can you imagine going to jail for a DUI when you were doing nothing but sleeping off your buzz?

A final law that drives me crazy is that child support has nothing to do with the relative incomes of each parent. I could have a court order to pay child support to you and be making $30,000.00 a year.  If you make millions a year and don’t need the little amount that I’m giving you, it won’t matter.  I’d still have to pay unless you choose not to receive it.  I of course think that each parent should have to support their kids, but when incomes vary that much, common sense should prevail.  It doesn’t happen that much, but Judges should be able to look at cases for what they are.

If you have any questions about any of these laws or any others, please don’t hesitate to contact us.    You can talk to one of our lawyer for free and it’s confidential.

Like you, the plethora of daily fantasy sports commercials are making me long for the good old days when I had to change the channel so my young son wouldn’t be subjected to seventeen commercials in a row that lead to him asking me if I’ve ever had a four hour erection.

Draft Kings and Fan Duel are the two big players and advertisers in daily fantasy sports.  They allow you to wager money that you can pick a roster of players that will be better than the roster of someone else and potentially win a lot of money.

If you read what it is, you might say to your self, “Wait, that sounds like gambling, I thought that’s illegal.”  They counter that daily fantasy is a game of skill and isn’t gambling so that makes it legal.  Unfortunately for them, Nevada just became the 12th state to disagree with them and banned their websites in their state.  The Feds are investigating this issue too and it appears just to be a matter of time before they go from billion dollar companies to illegal.  Nevada is saying that these sites need a license to operate in their state which is a laborous and expensive prospect.

Being able to figure out which players are going to perform well in a given game does require some skill as well as a lot of luck. Poker and blackjack also require skill and luck.  If regulators are going to state that daily fantasy is legal then they would also have to say that betting on individual games should be legal because there really isn’t much difference between picking a group of players to perform well and picking one team to beat another.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for legalizing all forms of sports gambling. It’s been done for years in Europe and Australia and it’s happening even more so in the States except that it’s done illegally which means the Government doesn’t get to regulate it or make tax money off of it.  That is bad for consumers and bad for tax payers.

But until that happens, the laws are the laws. As attorneys, we can’t help you based on what we think the law should be, we can only tell you what it is.  That’s true whether you are fighting a speeding ticket or trying to run a daily fantasy website.

So I expect that within the next few months these sites will all be shut down. I don’t think it’s a good result other than it leading to us not being bombarded with all of the ads for these services.  But I do think it’s the right result based on how the law is currently written.  If they want these laws changed or you want an unfair law switched, you don’t need a lawyer, you need a lobbyist.