Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Pink Houses?

I've been doing some legal research for a patent litigation case our firm is working on, and looking at the file for the litigation, it is not hard to see why lawyers can make a lot of money, and why litigation can cost so much. Our case is very early in the preliminary stage (not even really into discovery, just a lot of preliminary motions and stuff) and the file is already about 1 1/2 inches thick, and has 25 separate sets of documents (and that's just the official documents that have been filed with the court). That may not sound like a ton of documents... but it starts to sound more expensive when you realize that each document, even the most mundane and small, took the attorney at least an hour or two of time... billed at $300 to $500 an hour (or more). Most of the documents in that stack probably represent at least $10,000 worth of legal work, so we're talking a total of $250,000 (total for both sides) of legal work since January. I myself have spent about 15 to 20 hours just on my legal research, and writing up the memo summarizing the research, and while my billing rate is nowhere near as high as my bosses is, that's still a few thousand in services... and we aren't even into the "heavy lifting" yet, where each side could ring up $100,000 per month in legal bills... just for the privilege of maybe winning and not having to pay more.

Ain't that America, home of the free (just not the free legal service)... it kind of brings a tear to your eye.

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