Your Price is Too High

Many folks are complaining about the high price demanded by lawyers. It was reflected in an article in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago and, more recently, by a few corporate counsel in suggesting that they will “fire” their outside counsel because of their hourly rates.

In its December 6th edition, the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal highlighted California’s “Top Neutrals.”  I read the supplement with great interest … and was struck by the very high prices demanded/commanded by these triers of fact. From a low of $400 per hour to the upper reaches of $12,000 per day, I don’t hear the complaints against these rates!

Years ago, our system of independent neutrals developed because of changes in the judiciary’s retirement system causing economic pain to judges who remained on the bench, I lamented the separation of the rich and poor … The poor folks had their matters heard by the judiciary, paid by taxpayers. The rich had their matters heard more quickly by independent neutrals, paid by the parties. Independent neutrals who work full-time earn far more than judges.

Our system of justice suffers when economics plays such a dominant role in the determination of disputes, when the poor receive different treatment than the rich. It’s bad enough when the rich can afford to gather a “dream team” for the assertion of their claims; but, it’s outrageous when economics can determine who will be the trier of the facts.

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