Author Topic: Lawyers: blood-sucking devils...  (Read 1595 times)

Offline kuyeekee

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Lawyers: blood-sucking devils...
« on: March 19, 2007, 10:53:44 AM »
Construction lawyers make it their business to prevaricate, obfuscate and complicate, argues Nick Johnson
 
Lawyers: blood-sucking devils...
16 March, 2007

At Urban Splash, our legal director’s called Andrew Waugh. I have this little Frankie Goes to Hollywood moment with him every now and again (or Edwin Starr depending on your age – for me it’s Frankie, of course), it goes like this: I ring his mobile, he picks it up, I go “Waugh? What is he good for?” and he says “absolutely nothing”….how we laugh. It’s beginning to wear a bit thin

Actually it’s not strictly speaking true. He’s probably one of the single most useful people that we’ve recruited to the company in the last ten years (but don’t tell him I told you so). There’s a bitter irony that belies our threadbare little exchange and it’s this: we’ve employed a legal director to protect us from our lawyers.

We can all be thankful for small mercies. Mostly, I give thanks for the fact that I’m not a lawyer, that my parents didn’t want me to be a lawyer, that I never met a lawyer who inspired me in my younger, more impressionable days, that nobody at school felt that ‘Johnson would make a good lawyer’.

It’s not that lawyers are intrinsically bad – no, that’s the job of chartered surveyors - its that lawyers, especially property lawyers, are one of the few ‘professions’ left that make more money the longer something goes on. Prevarication, obfuscation, complication are their stock in trade, the tools they have in their overweight flight cases to make sure that whatever they’re tasked with, it won’t be easy.

They talk in terms of ‘clock time’. In the office we joke about one lawyer who has only to be within ‘billing radius’ – we fantasize that he has a subcutaneous silicone chip that detects clients presence and, hey presto back at HQ out pops another debit on the fee account – imagine how profitable he is on the packed property Pendolino.

Last year we probably spent over a million pounds on lawyers fees, the year before it was even worse because the “Waugh machine” as we now like to call him (that makes us sound like men who play ‘rugger’ – but I can assure you we don’t) wasn’t on the payroll.

We’ve just got to the end of the negotiating our legal agreement for Park Hill, Sheffield’s monument to modernism. Even before the ascent, before we stepped out of our metaphorical base camp (thoroughly modern basecamp of course, Koolhas no doubt) we were into 3 figures. Imagine the sheer feat – 4 sets of lawyers, 5 if you include our “Waughyer’ (geddit). It all finished at 4am on Christmas eve in a car park on the M56, would you believe.

I can’t begin to image what the legal bill for the gig was. And this is the rub, had we not had the deadline imposed by a threatened change in state aid rules, the legals would have run to September at very best, because with all the will in the world, lawyers make more money by spending more time on things. Period.

Compare that with you young architects, you spend twice as long qualifying only to find you get paid less than your office cleaner, unless of course you’ve ascended into the ranks of a ‘starchitect’ and make money, amongst other things. from licensing your own typeface to your own practice for the right to use it,

Now, as a client, I’m not suggesting for one minute you up your fees. What I am suggesting is that lawyers need to reform the way in which they go about their business. It’s old fashioned, its out-of-date and soon, as more people invest in their own ‘Waugh machines’, they might find themselves out of business.

Having re-read this bloggocks, its given me an idea,…I’m off to buy Waugh a new ringtone for his omnipotent mobile, no prizes for guessing what track it’ll be….

Click on the related articles link "...or guardian angels?" (above right) to read construction lawyer Tony Blackler's defence of his profession

I have reasons to believe this is the calling in my life.... yeekee ku
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Offline segumpal_tanah

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Re: Lawyers: blood-sucking devils...
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2007, 06:10:25 PM »
Legal Director? What's that? Is that sort of like an inhouse lawyer of your design firm? So, technically he is a lawyer, but on your side of the turf. Am I right? Is this a norm in our kind of work or has it just been introduced as a counter-measure to our fast-increasing legal needs?

I certainly agree that over-complication is the trademark of law practice. I mean it's understandable given the fact that they are being paid ridiculously ammount of money over a period of time. Exploitation is the key word here. If you can milk every cent of the client's pocket, then why not? This in itself is the major cause of all this. I'm sure the lawyers would change their game play if, and only if, we change the way they get paid. Maybe if they only get paid on a per-case basis, they might alter their twisted ways. Now, if they don't hasten the legal process it is them who are going to be at a loss. Longer time equals fewer cases which in turn equals fewer income. They of all people wouldn't want that would they?

p/s: I'm having trouble finding your link, yeekee. Which one is it?
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