Re: deadbeat family member
Posted by Carol on 5/01/06
On 4/28/06, Steven wrote:
> Dear All:
> I am working at a law firm, but occasionally do some
> moonlighting (minor legal work for friends, family). This
> is ok with my firm.
> I try not to work with family, but last year my wife's
> cousin (a young kid) asked me to write a consulting
> agreement that he would use for someone he was working
> with, sort of a consultant to procure business for his
> webdesign company. I usually charge around $220/hr
> (sometimes more, sometimes less), but promised him
> and we signed a contract to that effect. I drafted a very
> professional agreement (6 pages) for him, but he and the
> other party didn't like it (too long, too complicated),
> asked me to modify it. I did so, and went back and forth a
> bunch of times to accomodate them. I was asked to delete
> various sections (non compete clauses etc), and I
> reluctantly did so, but advised him of various issues with
> regards to working with consultants.
> In all, I spent over 10 hours on this matter. I finally
> billed him (months after providing the service, because I
> wanted to give the kid a chance to make money), and from a
> total of $2400, I billed him $1300, which I thought was a
> bargain for 10 hours of work.
> Last month he sent me a nasty email stating that he does
> not want to pay because he didnt use the complicated
> contract, and that he didnt get what he asked for, because
> he wanted a 2 page contract. I explained to him that in
> order to protect his interest I had to make it longer and
> cover all the bases, but he didnt agree, stating that he
> has a right to have crap if he asks for crap.
> I'm thinking I'll never get my time's worth, which is
> after all it was a lesson for me not work with family
> (deadbeats!). But I'd like to close this, and hold my head
> high, so I wanted to solicit someone's views: do I ask for
> all the money? do I make him understand I'll sue him if he
> doesnt pay me? What else would you do?
Steven, I've been there myself. Defended my cousin in
several criminal cases. She thinks because we're related I
should have done it for free. First off, I'd tell him what
it actually worked out to and that i'd given him almost 50%
off because he was family. As for the "if I ask for
crap..." nope, won't fly, it would be malpractice to give
him crap, you know it and he knows it. Depending on family
relations I would simply ask him if he works for free. Ask
him if he buys a car but doesn't drive it, doesn't he still
have to pay for it? Then (again depending on how close you
family is or how judgment-proof he is) tell him you'll have
to resort to the courts to get your money. The alternative:
ask him how much he thinks 10 hours of labor is worth and
settle for that. Expensive lesson to learn about family and
friends. Also, I made the mistake of not sending out monthly
statements to a couple of clients and they freaked out when
they got the final bill. I had the same reasons you had,
wanted to give them time to get the $$ together but that
didn't matter, now they say they never agreed to so much,
it's unfair, etc. I love the Lincoln saying, a lawyer's time
and advice is his stock and trade.
Posts on this thread, including this one
- deadbeat family member, 4/28/06, by Steven.
- Re: deadbeat family member, 5/01/06, by Carol.