I am presently offering free initial phone consultations on all consumer cases, free group trainings for self represented litigants, and a low cost personalized training in the specifics of defending your lawsuit in District Court.
Of course I also offer traditional full representation of consumers in bench trials, jury trials, and class actions. But I am also painfully aware that the vast majority of people cannot afford a lawyer, and that there are not enough lawyers to go around to handle even the profitable consumer fraud cases.
To combat the problem of the lack of affordable lawyers, and to increase access to justice, I also encourage other lawyers to start offering free or low cost Brief Advice and Legal and Court Coaching to Maryland residents.
Traditionally, clients retain attorneys for “full service representation”: their attorney advises them, examines and drafts documents, communicates with opposing counsel and represents them in court. However, full service representation is expensive, and often cost prohibitive.
Brief advice, limited scope services allow clients to consult with an attorney for only parts of a case. For example, if you are sued by a debt buyer and can’t afford to hire a lawyer to represent you in court, it might still be helpful to have a lawyer give you an overview of the substance and procedures of a debt collection lawsuit. Or, perhaps you can use some verbal guidance in how to prepare Answers to Interrogatories, or responding to a Motion to Compel, or propounding discovery on the Plaintiff.
Why Unbundled For Collection Cases?
Over the past few years more than 50,000 Maryland consumers were sued by debt buyers. Fewer than two percent of them had a lawyer. According to the Federal Trade Commission, debt buyers pay on average 4 cents on the dollar (sometimes less than a penny on the dollar), and they then seek to recover 100 cents on the dollar: a massive windfall. The accounts are sold so cheap because there is little or no documentation to support any legal claims, and the Banks have often specifically disclaimed any warranties of accuracy, completeness, or validity. I have found that with some hard work and a little coaching, consumers can successfully defend themselves against these lawsuits. By “success” I mean that they can win at trial, or settle out of court for far less than someone with no coaching can. Here are some examples of court coaching:
- Filing the Notice of Intention to Defend, listing certain defenses
- Interrogatories to Plaintiff
- Answers to Interrogatories
- Making and responding to motions
- Demands for Plaintiff to Produce Proof
- Responding to the “Business Records Certificate”
- How to make and respond to objections
- A checklist of “points to tell the court” based on a guided review of the Complaint and supporting documents
- Where to sit, what to say, how to say it, when to stop at the trial