Courtney Love: client from Hell

This is why we ask for retainers, folks.  (In this case, it should have been at least half a mil.)

Courtney Love is having more ex-lawyer problems. This time, she’s being sued by the attorney who represented her in the first Twitter defamation battle over alleged nonpayment of more than $400,000 in legal fees.

[…]

During this time, there were many battles for Love, says Fink. “A number of these disputes and lawsuits centered on Love’s alleged failure to pay various third parties for services rendered,” says his complaint. “Little did [Fink’s law firm] know that it would subsequently be forced [to] join their ranks.”

Among the matters handled included:

  • A breach of contract lawsuit and subsequent arbitration with Love’s former business manager.
  • A lawsuit stemming from purported nonpayment of $352,000 on an American Express credit card.
  • Arbitration over managerial control over the End of Music publishing catalog of Nirvana songs.
  • A lawsuit with a bank stemming from the End of Music arbitration.
  • A lawsuit over payment for security services.
  • A lawsuit with business partners over Japanese “manga” comic books centered on a Love-like character.
  • A case before the Labor Commissioner over wage claims by her former housekeeper.
  • Two lease disputes at her former residence in Los Angeles and the negotiation of a new residence.
  • Claims with insurers over a robbery and artwork allegedly destroyed by her former housekeeper.
  • Advice to continue touring under the name “Hole” after her band partnership was dissolved.

Fink makes it sound as if Love wasn’t the easiest client to maintain. He says that during the time he represented her, she sent the firm hundreds upon hundreds of text messages, which were “difficult and time-consuming” to interpret. She allegedly refused to meet in person but would telephone at bizarre and late hours of the night, and one time, she supposedly summoned Fink to her hotel room and made him wait in the lobby for hours with no meeting taking place.

There was some gratitude sent Fink’s way in the form of framed Nirvana and Hole gold records, Las Vegas concert tickets and a bouquet of flowers.

But the money allegedly stopped coming to Fink in July 2009. Love already had made payments of more than $82,000, according to the lawsuit, but wouldn’t pay the rest, even though she was racking up months-long stays at hotels in New York and Los Angeles as well as paying personal assistants hundreds of dollars at a time to fetch her coffee.

Fink says he stopped working for Love in October 2009. He now demands $436,029.32, plus interest, in the outstanding balance of legal fees incurred.

9 Questions For Your Family Lawyer

Making Divorce Work author Diana Mercer, at HuffPost Divorce:

If your lawyer is being honest, he or she will answer the following 9 questions:

1. What is my best case scenario in this case? If the Judge agreed with everything I say, and nothing that my spouse says, what do you predict the outcome to be?

2. What’s my worst case scenario in this case? If the Judge doesn’t agree with anything I say, but agrees with everything my spouse says, what do you predict the outcome to be?

3. What’s an optimistic, but realistic outcome?: Let’s say the Judge agrees with a good part of what I have to say, and some of what my spouse has to say, what do you predict the outcome to be?

4. What’s a pessimistic, but realistic outcome?: If the Judge agrees with a good part of what my spouse has to say, and only some of what I have to say, what do you predict the outcome to be?

Read ’em all.  A lawyer who only tells you what you want to hear is not doing her job.

Fake lawyers, real scam

The Law Society of British Columbia warns lawyers about a sophisticated con involving a phony law firm website:

Wagner Elliot LLP is not a real law firm, but in yet another twist on the bad cheque scam, a sophisticated fraudulent website (www.wagnerelliot.com) is used to fool you into believing that it is. The scamsters hope to trick you into paying out on a phony trust cheque, certified cheque or bank draft.

Although Wagner Elliott LLP is used as the bogus site in this scam, the details — including the fake law firm used — may vary. Here’s generally how the scam works:

  • You are contacted by a new client who claims to live in another country (e.g. Japan) and wants you to act on a conveyance.
  • The client has used a BC realtor to make an offer to purchase with subjects on a residential property in BC.
  • The realtor sends you the signed contract of purchase and sale.
  • The client tells you that they will have their Wagner Elliot LLP lawyer, based in Toronto, send you the funds.
  • You receive a well made but phony instrument for deposit into your trust account.
  • Soon after you deposit the funds into trust, the client contacts you to say that they aren’t removing the subjects and to please return the funds.
  • If you write a trust cheque before learning that the instrument was bad, you’ve been scammed.
The “Wagner Elliott LLP” website is here.  It would have fooled me, until I noticed that their address was listed as “123 Fake Street.”

How to be a great lawyer

Some wise advice from Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler, courtesy of Gail J. Cohen at Canadian Lawyer‘s Legal Feeds blog:

1.    Law is a helping profession. Help others without looking for something in return.

2.    People want to help you. Graciously give them the opportunity to do so. “Everything good that happened to me came from others,” said Winkler. As far as he’s concerened, there’s no such thing as climbing the ladder to success. Success comes from getting a hand from above to help pull you up the ladder.

3.    Respect your elders. Respect your youngers. Respect those of the same age. Respect your peers. Basically, treat everyone with kindness and respect.

4.    Be loyal. Loyalty begets loyalty.

5.    Do not exaggerate. Do not mislead the court.

6.    Get a mentor. Get several mentors.

7.    Be a mentor. Mentoring is a two-way street and you are never too old or too young to have or be a mentor.

8.    Always go to events early. That way the next person who comes in has to meet you and they’ll most likely remember you.

9.    Join organizations and speak at any event that you’re asked to. Winkler said he often got new clients that way.

10.    If you have no work, go to your office anyway. You never know what will crop up.

11.    Take advice from your mother, your grandmother, your granddaughter. . . .

12.    Get a dog. Buy a lot of CDs. Read a lot of books. Clients want you to be balanced. And following on that, Winkler said: “If you have doing doing what you’re doing, people will want to work with you.”