If you got my last blog where I talked about how to find the right attorney, I realized I did not tell you what happens when you get the wrong attorney. Let me give you a few examples.
- I have been on cases where buyers are suing the seller but their attorney doesn't advise them to also sue their own agents. Ouch, you might say but remember, you have E/O insurance. You will probably get sued anyway by the Seller, so step up. Often, the buyers agent, because of their fiduciary duty, has much of the liability when it comes to non-disclosure issues
- I had someone come to me AFTER their case had gone to trial. Their attorney did not hire an expert witness, even though the case involved really bad agent negligence. So, who testified in front of the judge of what the agent could or should have done. I am sure the attorney thought he could do it in his closing argument, but I doubt it.
- Hiring the expert too late. I have been brought into cases 30 days before the trial. I have to scramble to get prepared but the real problem is that discovery is over. That means I can't request additional documents and since depositions are over, I can't find out what the other agent did or didn't do because itwas never asked in deposition. And, attorneys are not going to ask a question in court that they don't already know the answer to.
- Just had a case, where I represented a lady regarding a family trust and real estate holdings. The Trust was managed by her sister and I was testifying as to how the real estate should have been managed, the properies sold and the monies properly managed. One one property, the agent/lender double-ended the property and collected over $70,000 in commission and loan fees. What's the problem, you say? The Trustee sold it to her husband. Any of you out there collect full commission and exessive loan fees on a family transaction. The Trustee was represented by a very smart young lawyer but she didn't really know real estate. So, the first couple of hours of my four and one half hour deposition was wasted on asking questions about where I went to school, what real estate offices I managed, etc, etc. Too bad for here cleint who was paying me $250 per hour and her attorney a lot more to answer benign questions
- In one case, the attorney hired me on a case of whether the buyer had a right of cancellation and the Seller was entitled to the buyre deposit. My position was that the Buyer had a right to walk. As I was reading the document, I noticed that the Seller Disclosure was not properly completed, nor signed by one of the agents. In California law, this means that it was not legally given to the buyer. I suggested to the attorney that he raise this argument. No, he said, we are too far into this case. Had he been a real estate attorney, he could have settled the case with a phone call to opposing counsel before there ever was a lawsuit, if he had hired me or another expert sooner
- I also remember a situation where I was teaching a contact class to real estate agents. One of the agents raised his hand and asked a question. Since it was so basic, I immediatley answered him. He laughed and said that is exactly what his attorney had said. Everyone laughed. The only difference, he said, was that I answered it immediatley and his attorney took a week and charged him $700 for 2 hours work. Obviously, the attorney was not a real estate attorney. So, he either asked another attorney or spent 2 hours researching. Either way, the client lost.
I have many more of these but you understand this issue.