Not long ago I read that over 80% of individuals and small businesses go to court over basic needs without a lawyer. For the middle class it is about 40 to 60%. There are two possible reasons for this: people can't afford legal services, or people just love to DYI. My belief is people would choose reasonably priced, affordable legal services versus taking the risk of "doing it themselves" in court. Court is full of unfamiliar terms and complicated rules such that a lawyer is more likely to win against someone doing it themselves.
There are free legal services for those who qualify. "Qualifying" generally means that a person or a family is at or about the poverty line (as defined by the federal government) or lower. Legal services are stretched thin and always in fear of funding that benefits indigent legal service providers being cut or eliminated by the legislature. The attorneys who provide these services work tirelessly for the those who need representation to stop domestic violence, to stop a foreclosure or eviction or to obtain basic needs like food, clothing and shelter.
There are market rate services for those who can pay. Rates range based on the lawyer, not the client. The argument goes: the better the lawyer, the higher the rate. Think about, is a lawyer who charges twice as much, always twice as good? Or does that lawyer just have too much overhead. At the end of the day, clients pay a lawyer's rent, utilities and taxes. And what good is a lawyer you can't afford in the first place?
To bridge the ever widening gap in legal services, I am dedicated to lower billable rates and serving those who are caught between qualifying for legal services and affording market rate services. In a country that prides itself on the "rule of law," it makes little sense that the rule of law is strictly for those who can't afford a lawyer and those who absolutely can.
I've had the privilege to work with some really great firms. And I've worked with some amazing lawyers who earn every cent of their billable rate. However, often these billable rates are not within reach of every day middle class people for every day problems. During the Recession of 2009 law firms didn't raise their rates. Yet people and small businesses were still hurting and still unable to afford the going rates of the day. Then once the Recession was over, rates started going up again. The wages for the middle class have remained mostly the same.
I've been in practice for over 27 years and been honored by my peers for the work that I have done. In my landlord-tenant practice, I encountered too many landlords that if they had a written lease at all, it wasn't worth the paper it was written on. Too many times the landlord had a bad lease that had been copied and pasted from something found on the internet. Why hadn't the landlord come to me in the first place? I submit it was because my billable rate was too high. I don't think it was really because the landlord wanted to incur the risk of writing the lease him or herself.
In the end, I went to law school because I wanted to help people and to help find solutions to their problems. I'm committed to providing quality legal services at an affordable price. Let's fix your problem. Let's bridge the gap together.