A frequent question I am asked by clients new to The Colvin Law Firm is why most attorneys take 33% (or 40% if it goes to trial) of the client’s settlement or judgment.  Of course, I immediately explain that under the Reduced Attorney Fee Program at The Colvin Law Firm, we never take more than a 25% fee.  Most clients are appreciative of the significant discount, but inevitably may think that even that is too much.


So, why the large fee?  As I discussed in a previous blog post, getting to trial is liable to take well over one year.  During that time, there will be numerous motions, hearings, court appearances, and significant amounts of research being conducted.  And that is just what occurs prior to trial.  Not to mention the amount of time that will be necessary for an effective trial preparation.   Defense firms usually bill their corporate defendant clients by the hour.  And it is not unusual for a good attorney to charge over $700 per hour for their defense work.  We plaintiff’s attorneys, however, usually are paid only if we are successful.  So since we are putting forth all of our time and effort, we take a contingent fee to recoup the time that we spent on the case.   Sometimes the contingency fee covers what we would have made had we charged an hourly rate for the case and sometimes it doesn’t.  But I am sure that there are a large number of attorneys who would be more than willing to take every plaintiff’s case at their normal billable hours, payable in advance, by a frequently replenishing retainer.


I enjoy legal shows on television as much as the next person, but they have really distorted the public’s perceptions and expectations regarding the law.  I won’t even discuss the leeway that television superlawyers are given to badger witnesses into confessing.  Nor will I discuss the complete disregard of real trial technique.  What most clients are shocked to learn when first experiencing the judicial system is how long it actually takes to get to trial.

On TV the discovery process is quick, and usually occurs immediately before (or frequently during) trial.  And, more often than not, it involves the lead attorney or his/her investigator uncovering extremely useful information at the 11<sup>th</sup> hour.

So to all my future Personal Injury or Employment clients, know this.  If we meet, and there is a general agreement that I think you have a good case and you would like for me to handle it, we will be working together for at least the next year.  Probably closer to two.  I know in today’s fast food world that a year is an eternity, but expect to spend at least that long before we get to trial.  And that’s only if a rarity occurs and there are no delays or continuances.  While I wish the District had something similar to Virginia’s <em>Rocket Docket, </em>which gets litigants through the entire trial process in three or four months, unfortunately we do not.


First off, I’ll acknowledge that because the economy is in the state it is, there are quite a few companies resorting to reductions-in-force.  And there is nothing wrong with a company utilizing whatever measures it can, in order to sustain itself for the future.  That having been said, what I’ve noticed a significant bit of lately is that large corporations that are going through restructuring are laying off quite a few pregnant employees.

And again, should there be a sound basis for the layoff, there is nothing in the law, indicating that pregnant women can’t be laid off as a result of an official reduction-in-force.  But what I’m seeing is bordering on the ridiculous.  Many employers are laying off exemplary pregnant employees under the guise that the position is being eliminated, only to replace that individual within two months.  In one particular case, the exact job that a pregnant woman was relieved of was reposted the very next week.  And they didn’t even have the common0sense to try and hide what they did by changing the job title or description.  Nope, they used the exact same title and description of the job that the pregnant employee had just been relieved of.


Susan* came to The Colvin Law Firm two weeks before her maternity leave was supposed to end at her employer.  She was scheduled to report back to work, but that day, she had received a letter from her employer indicating that her job position had been terminated.  Susan’s employer had offered her two weeks pay, and nothing more.  Susan was effectively now unemployed and without health care benefits.

The Colvin Law Firm took her case and quickly swung into action.  After putting our investigation team to work, it was obvious to our attorneys that Susan’s employer had violated numerous laws under both the Family and Medical Leave Act and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act  statutes.  We begin lining up witnesses and preparing to file a Complaint against Susan’s employer.

In the interim, during one of several meetings with The Colvin Law Firm, Susan indicated that she didn’t want to return to work for an employer who treated her unfairly.  She stated that because she had children, she was obviously in need of the money and the health care benefits that the job provided and unfortunately might be forced to take the one-month salary offer because she was not in a position to wait over a year for the case to go to trial.**

Utilizing that information Within two weeks, The Colvin Law Firm had negotiated a substantial six-figure settlement with her employer.  In addition to the cash portion of the settlement, The Colvin Law Firm negotiated to include the employer covering Susan’s complete health care costs for over one year, for both Susan and her children.  In addition, monies were also paid to allow Susan to receive employment counseling to find another position.  Even though the attorneys at The Colvin Law Firm each believed that the case was potentially worth more at trial, we presented Susan with the options that allowed her to best choose what was right for her and her family.

In addition, our Reduced Fee Program resulted in Susan receiving over an additional  $30,000.00 recovery, in comparison to what she would have received had another firm charged her 33% (or worse yet %40).

The bottom line is no matter what type of discrimination you may have faced, The Colvin Law Firm will fight on your behalf.  No matter how old (or young) you are, whatever your race, creed, or national origin, regardless what religion you adhere to, or your sexual orientation, no matter if you are male or female, pregnant or not, and regardless of any disability you may have, The Colvin Law Firm is here for you.


*   Not her real name.

** Unfortunately, the typical time between filing a civil case and actually going to trial, for both the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is well over one year.  The Colvin Law Firm, however, prides itself on its’ courtroom performance and prepares every case as if it were going to trial.


Wise King Solomon was acting in the <em>best interests of the child</em> when he deciding against splitting the baby in half, and instead gave the baby to the woman who would rather see the baby live with another than be killed.  Unfortunately, many of the cases involving family law are not that simple.  Which is why it is helps to have experienced trial lawyers like the The Colvin Law Firm on your side.

Kelly* came to The Colvin Law Firm because her ex, who was now living in another state, was no longer contributing for the care of their child.  Kelly didn’t want to “rock the boat” but she was disappointed that her ex continuously broke the terms of their oral agreement regarding support.

The Colvin Law firm took her case and proceeded in getting her ex served in his new home state.   After several court appearances and hearings, Kelly found out that her ex was now making substantially more than he had originally claimed.  The court ordered him to pay three times what their original oral agreement had called for.  In addition, he was required to pay retroactive support for their child.

We, at The Colvin Law Firm understand that when you come to us for family law matters, it is most likely am difficult and emotional time for you.  Whether you are dealing with an impeding divorce, child custody issues, or child support, we help you navigate through these difficult times and get you the resolution that is necessary for you to move on.


As of late, I’ve had quite a few clients and potential/future clients approach me about software start-ups.  Not surprising considering I’ve dealt with quite a few internet businesses and taught Cyberspace Law for a half-dozen years at a local university.  The big surprise is that a substantial number of these individuals have come to me to discuss software companies where they want to provide the software for free.  As is nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.

Now, I’m not against free stuff.  In fact, like most, I enjoy the use of many free applications on my iPhone.  But the app store bastardization of the software industry has me perplexed.  Many of these free apps and software have no verifiable way to monetize the product.  So, I am trying to understand.  You spend numerous hours creating useful (hopefully) software only to give it away for nothing?  Ok.  Maybe it makes sense if you use the free software as a loss leader, in order to gain market share for an add-on piece of software.  But just to gift it to us?  Wait, I still don’t understand.

And perhaps the biggest issue I have with these free apps/software is the customer service is severely lacking.  For instance, I enjoy the use of an iPhone app called The Chive from thechive.com.  Unfortunately, the app is an utter failure at times.  It sometimes goes nearly a week without updating the content (should occur several times daily) and it constantly includes content is not viewable by iPhone owners.  The worst part is that many of us paid the $.99 for an ad-free app, so it’s not as if we didn’t pay for the app, but it probably costs <em>The Chive</em> much more to pay for support and updates than it rakes in for the inexpensive app.

So in the case of software, you frequently get what you pay for.  And in the case of software design, if you provide free software, free updates, and free support…then what will you get paid to do?