Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thoughts on per diem work

About 10 years ago, I started focusing my practice on "per diem" court coverage for other attorneys. Essentially, I cover court appearances on civil cases in Queens County, New York. There appeared to be a demand for this service, which I had noticed in my own practice, especially when I had to appear in Court outside of Queens. Every time I would go to another County for a motion, or a scheduling conference, or a pre-trial conference, several things would happen: I would spend the entire morning there, I didn't know the local rules and customs, I didn't know the Judges or clerks or adversaries, I didn't know where to park or eat, and I was tired when I got back to Queens. When I covered my own cases in Queens, I found these problems weren't so bad, and I also noticed how much my adversaries generally hated being there. I started thinking about what I (they) would pay, not to have to do these appearances, and $75 - $150 seemed to be the range.

Another thing I noticed was that if planned right, one attorney could handle multiple appearances in the same building (I used to actually cover two buildings next door to each other, but I'm kinda nuts). All this takes is knowing the local practices, such as which Judges have a second call at what times, which Parts allow you to just "check in", etc. It also doesn't hurt to have the Court staff helping you (or at least not hurting you). Then, all I needed was a marketing plan and we'd be in "business".....

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