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Solo In Chicago

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Risks of Taking Cases at Inconvenient Courthouses

I've always practiced in "volume" law firms. I don't say that as a criticism I simply mention it to explain that I've never worked in a big dollar trial practice where I think you essentially take the big money cases just about wherever you can find them because the potential payoff is worth the inconvenience. I've always worked in environments where you make your money by having a lot of say $2,500 to $10,000 cases going all the time.

In a volume practice you need to be careful not to take cases that waste a lot of travel time or to take cases at courthouses where you can't schedule multiple cases on court dates to really get good value out of your court appearances. You make your $ in a volume practice by scheduling 3-5+ cases for every day you're in court.

Because here's the risk....all it takes is one case where there's a lot junk and many, many court appearances at the inconvenient courthouse to be a huge drag on profitability. I have a case like that right now. We've had stupid problems with a Sheriff not properly returning an Affidavit for Service, a disagreement with the Court as to the definition of joint/several liability, an honest scrivener's error that nonetheless required another court date to repair. Now this sort of thing would be a pain-in-the-butt regardless but if it's at a courthouse where I have tons of other cases I can be scheduling other matters and making those mornings profitable. But when this is the lone case, then this turns into a big time waster and money loser.

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