More on Vail

For reasons that escape me, the Nevada State Bar holds its annual convention outside of Nevada. This year Vail, last year Chicago, year before that Austin. Next year New Orleans. By careful budgeting, I generally am able to attend these annual meetings. The topics discussed are generally quite relevant to my practice.

This year, for example, one of the main topics was women and their recent emergence as a dominant force in the Nevada legislature. The question? Were the thousand of new laws passed this year different from laws that would have been passed by a male-dominated legislature?

Continue reading “More on Vail”

Attorney Fees

At this weekend’s Nevada State Bar convention in Vail, Colorado, one of the speakers hit upon a topic dear to the heart of clients and their lawyers. The speaker, a professor at Georgetown law school, started his lecture with maps. Yes, maps. He pointed out how the law is much like a map, in that the client and his lawyer go from place to place. But, unlike maps, there is little in the way of fee reference points. The lawyer simply says something like: “I will charge you $600 per hour but, since I have no clue how hard the other side will fight, I can’t fix the ultimate fee at this time.” So the client can’t budget or assess whether to settle or proceed. If its not a life-changing dispute, the client will often just capitulate or try to represent himself.

The professor told us attendees that help was on the way in the form of analytics…computer programs that show the average high and the average low number of attorney hours for that kind of dispute. I bought one of those programs and plan to learn to use it soon. Fairness to both the lawyer and the client involves some way of knowing the unknowable. At least its worth a try. I will report as I learn how to use the program.

Home equity caution

The media is full of ads trying to get homeowners to borrow on their home, at low interest, and to use the $ to pay off high-interest credit cards, etc.

Just remember: Over half a million dollars of home equity in Nevada is exempt from judgment creditors. To use exempt money to pay off debt, such a credit card debt, which is subject to being discharged in bankruptcy is at the top of the “poor money-management ideas” bucket and rightfully so.

2019 Nevada Legislature is about done

For much, if not most of our history, we allowed ourselves to be governed by the common law (judge made law). We still do to a lesser extent, as it is the courts which interpret the law. Some think it best if our representatives just put their feet up on their desk and sip mint juleps for the 90 days or so that the legislature meets every two years. But that is an unreasonable wish. There is much that needs addressing which cannot be addressed by the Courts, particularly when it comes to allocating money to schools, highways and the like. Normally, some of the new laws go into effect immediately upon passage (and, if appropriate) signed by the Governor. Others have a a specific effective date and still others go into effect at the beginning of next year (2020). So be careful. If you are going to rely on a new law, first make sure it has become effective.