No surprise, I didn’t have much say about hiring/not hiring a lawyer. If it had been up to me, I would have prayed a lot and gone with a court-appointed attorney. However, DH was warned by his former fellow inmates not to go that route. So…we were headed for more expense and greater stress. Fortunately, I did have some input about who was put on the payroll.
As soon as DH was “sprung”, there were business cards thrust into his hands and we found the term “solicitor” is not a mistake. We didn’t have the luxury of the Internet so we started making the rounds of offices. There were some swanky ones and some that were bare-bones. Having had very little experience with lawyers as a whole, the only ones I had for the sake of comparison were some my mother had dealings with and my divorce lawyer (which was one of the former, too). Of those, the smarmiest had the nicest office and the one who was more or less a straight-shooter had one of those wooden desk, a desk chair, a couple of chairs for clients, a coat rack and filing cabinet, sort of shabby offices. With that frame of reference, I was armed to be The Adviser.
We, as usual, prayed before we left DD with my sister-in-law and sallied forth.
There was a long line of prospects but three stand out. The first was very pudgy around the middle, sweaty and chain-smoked cigarettes. His fee seemed reasonable but he was out because he didn’t “seem” right. The second had a nice office and a staff that gave the impression of efficiency. What I had against him was he spouted profanity every other word. Plus he smoked, too. Sorry, Charlie. Only two strikes but you’re out.
The last place we’d go was in the less exclusive part of the business section of New Orleans. It might be called “picturesque” kind of like a realtor would say a rundown house has “potential”. I was a little put off by the area but we pressed on. No one had passed muster. We had to.
The third was a man in his late fifties, probably. His office was run-down around the edges but had lots of interesting oddments here and there. The day we interviewed him, he had two of the largest kiwifruit I’d ever seen on his desk. A client had sent them over. That, to me, was a good sign that someone cared enough about him to give him fruit. He was soft-spoken and knowledgeable without being condescending. His staff consisted of two ladies who were very nice, too, and went about their work without any fuss. One of them had her hutch festooned with Post-It Notes. I’d never seen them before. They were a novelty.
His retainer was $2,000 which would go toward his fee of $25,000. Period. The end. We told him we’d get back to him. At least we knew where we stood since the other lawyers charged by the hour and we could end up owing no telling how much. But where to get the money?
We couldn’t go back to our Nebraska grandma. We still owed her what we’d borrowed for DD and me to live on. As long as DH had the lawsuit hanging over his head there would be no way for him to fly and make anything. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! It might as well be the $23,000,000 all over again.
We kept praying and DH decided to talk to his parents. They weren’t wealthy people but they’d managed to save a little. My father-in-law went to his brother who had made some shrewd investments and borrowed the rest. We went back to the lawyer and gave him the $2,000 his parents had already sent. DH officially had an attorney.
There was meeting after meeting and every one of them reinforced my thinking we’d made the right choice. In “prepping” DH, he never asked him to do anything devious. We took DD to the office with us after the initial visit and he was charmed by her which was also in his favor. One thing I took away from all the long talks we had was his saying, “Remember, it’s ‘justice’—just us against them.” It’s sad to say but I’ve felt that way many times since.
My in-laws were kept informed via telephone and letters. They were nervous about their youngest boy and wanted everything to be resolved quickly. DS2 was still with my mother and DS1 was going more and more into debt to the college and there was nothing we could do to help.
The other defendants had retained their lawyers and all five (including DH) were to be tried simultaneously. That seemed a little strange to me but our lawyer (I always thought of him as mine, too) assured me it wasn’t unusual. The case was scheduled to come up soon. I wondered if there would be enough time to prepare but our lawyer had an air of confidence about him that put any misgivings to rest. We were going to trial.