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Little Victory

(Not that it would be, but no mp, pls.)


We had a client who hired us more than 10 years ago for his divorce. He was kind of nuts. Very smart, but a complete narcissist and unable to consider the possibility that he could be wrong about anything. We told him from the get-go that things would probably be split 50-50 but he was convinced otherwise. He deluged us with emails and phone calls, all lengthy. Demanded a lot of work that we told him would not be fruitful, but he insisted. The other side offered to settle for 50-50, and we advised him to take it, but he turned it down.


We went to trial. He drove the judge nuts because he would not answer a direct question. In the end, things were pretty much split 50-50, except one thing went in the wife's favor. He insisted on appealing. The appeal lost.

Through the years this took he never, ever complained about our work. He paid our bills. He praised us to the heavens. But in the end, when the wife was able to force him to pay her, he still owed us some money and stopped paying. We filed a lien to get paid out of the sale of some assets. He asked to go to arbitration over our bill.

He brought a COUNTERCLAIM in the arbitration saying we had committed malpractice and overcharged him and asking for ALL the money he had paid over the years (actually, more than he had paid) to be refunded, more than $100k. (This was for more than 6 years of work, including out of pocket costs). We freaked and asked for our insurance carrier to give us a lawyer to defend us, since it was basically a malpractice case. We had to pay a $2500 deductible (what he still owed us was about $11k) and the lawyer started working on getting the counterclaim dismissed. I wanted him to argue the statute of limitations, but at first he resisted. Ultimately he did and we got the counterclaim dismissed, but because of this case and another matter, our insurance company refused to renew our policy. Our new policy costs nearly twice as much money.

We went forward on the arbitration and just got the decision. We won completely and will get the $11k. We should really get more, because our retainer says we are entitled to receive costs incurred for collecting money owed, and we spent a LOT on this, but at least it is over - I hope. He might still try to bring a frivolous lawsuit or make a frivolous complaint to the Bar, because he's crazy. He was making threats at the end of the arbitration. But it's nice to have been vindicated - this arbitration board tends to lean in favor of clients. That they gave us 100% of what we asked for says a lot.

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