Saturday, December 31, 2016, 08:23 AM
Posted by Administrator
Note: Blogs being blogs, earlier entries (like the one about the first lawyer I hired) appear below.

One day, many years ago, a letter came to me from another lawyer saying that my former client's President (the client was a corporation) was going to sue me for screwing something up. Here is what I did (or didn't do): I didn't tell the President that a money judgment he had (personally) against my client (the corporation) was void because it didn't have his (the President's) address on it as required by Florida law. A big, fabulous law firm here in West Palm Beach had sued the Corporation (that, the President owned all the stock in), obtained a judgment against it, but screwed up the preparation of the Judgment.

The President's lawyer was now writing to tell me that I had a duty to tell the President that his judgment against my client (the corporation) was void. This would have caused him not to have me file the Bankruptcy for (his) corporation.....and the bankruptcy was the thing that brought to light that his judgment was void and, supposedly, prevented him from collecting the judgment against (essentially, his own) corporation.


I told my malpractice carrier (I had one back then) about the possible claim and they wrote to me and said "Pay us the $5,000 co-pay and we'll hire a lawyer for you." I don't remember whether the $5,000 was called a co-pay, but, here is how it worked: Unlike the deductible you pay when your car is fixed after an accident, in which you were at fault (if you're not at fault, and you're lucky, the other driver's insurance will pay and there is no deductible), the malpractice insurance required a $5,000 payment as soon as a lawyer knew a claim was about to be made against them. The company used the $5,000 to hire a lawyer for their insured. (So, threaten a claim against a lawyer and he/she is out $5,000? These days, probably $10,000 or $15,000. Anyway, it is an obnoxious system.......don't pay the $5,000 and the malpractice carrier will deny coverage).

The upshot of all of this was my insurance company found a lawyer for me. The lawyer wrote to the other lawyer telling him that I had no duty to the corporation President, only to the corporation and that if I'd told the corporation President that his judgment was void, I would have been shirking my duty to the corporation to get it into bankruptcy regardless of the personal interest of the President (and to the detriment of the corporation's creditors who weren't getting paid and who had rights, too). The President's lawyer, by now realizing that he was an idiot, had asked another lawyer to look into it and that lawyer sent me a letter of apology.

I have certainly screwed stuff up...........but, not that one.

Having tortured the reader with the above explanation, one would think I'd quit this blog entry and move on..........but, one would be wrong....

The lawyer who represented me was Jay White. Jay began his career in a small downtown West Palm Beach law firm (back in the early 80's when West Palm Beach was small). I was....back in 1983....working for a small Palm Beach law firm which hired me after a larger West Palm Beach law firm sent me there.......the WPB law firm had interviewed me, liked me, but thought that I would do better at a firm that was run by Jewish people.

I didn't like the firm I was at.......I was young, I knew boss, knew everything. I was told to go into my windowless first floor office and dictate stuff for my secretary, Margreat, to do and to close the door and work. One day, I walked down the hall and told my boss "I quit." Then, I walked back to my office and closed the door. (Note: The building the firm was in, on Royal Palm Way, now has windows on the first floor.)

Within a few minutes, I got a phone call. It was Jay White......I sort of knew him. "Steve," he said, "I've got to leave my you know if they are looking for anyone at your firm?"

He got the job. I think he later became President of the Florida Bar.......but, I don't follow things like that too closely.

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