Getting in, Getting out, and Getting paid, without Getting Sued
September 27, 2012
A CLE presentation on ethics by Marc Adelman ’77
By Jeremy M. Evans ’11
Alumni Association Board of Directors
As you may or may not know, the CLE presentation presented by the Alumni Association of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, included Wall of Fame Alumnus Marc Adelman. He has been practicing law for 30 plus years and has learned a thing or two. Adelman even referred to one of his sample retainer agreements during the presentation as a work of art because it included 30 years of mistakes and thus lessons learned. Some of these nuggets of wisdom will be discussed later in this article. Others may remember Adelman as the former President of both the State Bar of California and the San Diego County Bar Association. Marc is now considered an expert in his representation of attorneys and law firms in legal malpractice.
The presentation was well attended, 65 plus in attendance, and the demographics included young and more experienced attorneys. Adelman insisted throughout his presentation that he continues to learn and make mistakes…maybe there is a reason we call it the practice of law, as we are always practicing and learning new things. For if we are not learning, we are not growing our minds or our business. Adelman continued in his presentation that specific words and sentences in his sample retainer agreement were mistakes from actual cases where he had to learn the hard way.
For example, Adelman provided that we must, in the initial client interview, actually interview the client before quoting a price or agreeing to reduce your fee. He added that you should always know the situation, facts, and generally about the client before agreeing to representation. The last statement is hard to practice especially for attorneys trying to keep the Motel 6 we’ll leave the light on (i.e., pay the bills). HE continued that you should narrow the representation so you know what you are getting into, as does your client (remember to exclude appeals from representation where you are the trial lawyer).
It was a great and honest conversation from and with an attorney with much experience. For alums in all stages, Adelman is an attorney whom we should emulate. For me, I will take the advice and discuss it in my next client interview or place it in my next fee agreement.