More Great Moments In Legal Marketing: MyMotionCalendar.Com

I have a partner here in my office in Los Angeles. Today he got an email from MyMotionCalendar.com, an outfit that offers independent contractor attorneys to cover court hearings.

From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:05 PM
Subject: Hearing Wednesday July 17, 2013 @ 10:45- Marianna, Jackson County.

Hello,

I was inquiring on if you were available to cover a hearing for us on Wednesday July 17, 2013 at 10:45 pm In Marianna, Jackson County. [Note: that part is highlighted in yellow in the original email.] This hearing simply involves a motion to dismiss. Please let me know if you will accept covering this hearing for us for the flat rate of $75.00. [Ditto] I will attach all relevant documents and information to assist you if you can confirm that you can attend. Please confirm that you accept covering this hearing for us with a response to this email. Thank you.

In re: US Bank National Assoc vs. [Unfortunate Person] Case No. 209CA1262 Internal Case ID 12-003054

Type of hearing Hearing Court's Motion Type: Motion for Summary Judgment
Representing Plaintiff City Defuniak Springs, FL Walton County
Location
Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 2:00pm (orderID:76446)

Best Regards,

Lisa Marie Rodriguez,
MyMotionCalendar
1001 W. Cypress Creek Road, Suite 407
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309
[phone numbers]
www.mymotioncalendar.com
[email protected]

Note that Ms. Rodriguez seems confused: the text refers to a motion to dismiss hearing in Jackson County, but the case information block refers to a summary judgment hearing in Walton County.

So: MyMotionCalendar.com would like my partner to fly to somewhere in Floria to represent U.S. Bank at hearing — maybe a motion to dismiss, maybe a motion for summary judgment — for $75. Or would it?

I have a few questions for MyMotionCalendar.com.

1. Is this a real solicitation for an attorney to join you as one of your contract attorneys for a real hearing? Or is this an advertisement, using a fake hearing, to solicit either our business (to pay you for hearing coverage) or participation (as contract attorneys)? If it is an advertisement, does U.S. Bank know that you are using a (real or fake) case bearing its name to solicit business?

2. If it's an advertisement, disguised as a shout for help on a real hearing, then why would anyone — contract attorney or customer — want to do business with a company that advertises by fraud? Also, if it's an advertisement, why haven't you — a company nominally providing legal services — complied with the CAN-SPAM Act?

3. If, on the other hand, this is a real solicitation, genuinely seeking help from some attorney on a hearing:

a. Why would any contract attorney, or any customer, want to trust a company that is so freakishly incompetent that it is soliciting Los Angeles attorneys to got to Florida to handle hearings for $75?

b. Why would any contract attorney, or any customer, want to trust a company that is so freakishly incompetent that it can't keep straight what county the hearing is in, or what type of hearing it is?

c. Do you honestly think that any competent attorney can prepare for, and attend, a hearing on a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgement for $75? Either of those motions can result in the permanent end of the case, or the wrongful continuation of the case, to the substantial detriment of one side or the other. For $75? Really? How much time do you think that attorney is going to spend, for $75, preparing to argue what may be the incredibly complex matters presented in the motion? What kind of lawyer, or client, would trust a business that says "simply involves a motion to dismiss?"

Also:

4. Who the holy hell hires you people? If lawyers or law firms use you, do they disclose to their clients that they are subcontracting out their legal and ethical obligations at $75 per hearing to a company that doesn't know how far Los Angeles is from Florida, or, alternatively, to a company that gets business by lying? Do they know that they are trusting their cases to a company that sends $75 lawyers to handle "simply" a motion to dismiss?

This is what the marketeers are doing to the legal profession.

Edited to add: If you share my questions, perhaps you could ask company founder Jonathan Broder at [email protected]

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. says

    As for (4), it might actually be worth taking one of these crazy matters in exchange for being able to interview the client and finally answering the other questions.

  2. jb says

    Yes, #4 is what interests me the most. The fact that these spammers exist suggests that there is a market for their services, the minimum size of which depends on the spammers' overhead. I am very curious who that market consists of.

  3. Dan Weber says

    I'm sort of skeptical the client even exists — they want to hook you in with the promise of a case and then sell you more.

    Or can you look up the case information in Florida?

  4. Dan Weber says

    Sorry to double-post, but how do you even know it's US Bank that you would be representing, and not [Unfortunate Person]?

  5. Ron Larson says

    I think you are confused. From what I read, the defendant is the city of DeFuniak Springs, which is in Walton County, FL.

    The case is being heard in a court in the nearby city of Marianna, which is in Jackson County, FL.

    Perhaps they stick the county names in the legal files in case there are two cities with the same name, but in different counties, in FL.

    It sounds like they want to just find an attorney who will file their motion on their behalf for lunch money.

  6. Ron Larson says

    And to answer your bigger question. Yes, there are law firms who are nothing but paper mills. They take cases cheap. They have an army of minimum wage staff who fill out the forms and file all the standard appeals and pleas with the court. An attorney never actually looks at the case, despite his signature. In other words, they just go through the motions.

    The business model is volume with zero quality. They spend a lot of advertising because the customers who respond to bus-bench ads for a lawyer are also the ones stupid enough to think a $250 fee to defend against a DUI, or a wage garnishment, is more then enough.

    My mom briefly worked as a secretary in a New Orleans law firm. She said that they lawyers never read anything. Everything was done by secretaries and legal assistants. The lawyers took long 3-martini lunches followed by golf games, then came in and signed all the forms and went home (or back to the bar).

    I had to hire two lawyers when my now ex-wife got DUI's. I quickly learned how those TOP GUN DUI law firms really work. They just file all the standard appeals, they lose, they tell you "Too bad… you lost", and call it a day. The CHP, DMV, and the courts all recognize their letterhead and pretty much ignore anything they put on it. They know it is going to be baseless BS. The exact same BS they said in the last 100 cases they represented. All they did was change the defendant's name.

  7. Ron Larson says

    That is why I declined by employer's benefit of legal insurance. For a monthly fee, I get legal advice from a large legal firm. But I can't wrap my head around the idea that this firm isn't going to do everything it can to get me to go away if I bring them a problem. Spending time and effort on any case takes away from their profit margin. They would have zero incentive to help me.

    So I suspect I would get nothing but lip service from them and I would frankly be better off without them.

  8. anne mouse says

    Does Florida have some extremely liberal rules on pro hac vice appearances, or something? I mean, it's one thing to ask a lawyer to show up in court in violation of all standards of ethics (you know, like the duty to investigate the case, maybe by actually talking to the client), but is it even *possible* to put in an appearance on the other side of the country on a few days' notice?

  9. David says

    Ron, the city in Walton County is listed as the plaintiff, not the defendant. Which is odd, because the plaintiff is earlier stated as U.S. Bank.

  10. N. Easton says

    It is absolutely standard, out in the sticks where I live, for local attorneys to take $75 a pop to show up and continue pissant collections cases. My office is literally across the street from the courthouse, so if I can pick up two or three on law day and sit there for a one-hour docket, it's not a bad deal.

    The part I am uncomfortable with is that I am presented with some affidavits of investigation and so forth (which I have never actually had to present to the court, even when the firm I was appearing on behalf of got a default judgment because the defendant did not show up) that I frankly don't have much confidence in.

  11. Nicholas Weaver says

    Do what we do with spammers for the V-word and other things: Actually attempt to participate…

    Email back, and ask for something. Don't end up agreeing in the end, but play along enough to get the case # info. When you do, contact the client directly and ask if they consented to this behavior.

  12. Kevin says

    To play devil's advocate here, is it possible there was a typo in your friend's email address and this was actually intended for someone with whom they have a relationship with in FL?

    Still a joke, but that may explain some of it.

  13. says

    I've had a friend who knows something abut how scammers operate say that especially moronic spam is deliberate — quite simply, they're fishing for dumb people. REALLY dumb people. By making sure only the stupidest of the stupidest will reply to their ads, they save time dealing with the fish who might wriggle off the hook. Sending spam is virtually free, but it can take hours of work to get money from someone who actually nibbles, and if those hours don't produce anything, that's an incredible waste of their time. If YOU had the time, you could cost these scumwads a lot of money by wasting theirs, because the same psychology that drives the suckers drives the scammers — once they get the idea there's a big payoff, they'll keep pursuing it, no matter what, and the more time they invest with no payoff, the more compelled they are to keep going — the "sunk money" fallacy.

  14. Troutwaxer says

    You should engage with these people and document the fun! Not just ponies, either; play dumb but not incredibly so and see how much time and money you can cost them!

  15. Sam Browning says

    The last time I appeared in Federal Court and argued against a motion for Summary Judgement that was directed against my client, I put in a minimum of 15 hours prep time.

    It's hard for me to believe someone would be able to carry out this assigment for more then minimum wage.

  16. AlphaCentauri says

    It sounds like a lot of it is laid-off attorneys handling hearings related to foreclosures. A sign of the times.

  17. AlphaCentauri says

    They also sound like they're pretty much limited to Florida. They may have been less interested in hiring Ken's partner than they were at putting the bug in his ear in case he has a friend/relative who is a lawyer in Florida who is un/underemployed.

  18. ZarroTsu says

    I wonder if it would be more efficient to send advice to this spam-firm through their support email than their tangible emails. It'll sit there and stagnate with no results – but we gotta follow their example, right?

  19. says

    It sounds like a lot of it is laid-off attorneys handling hearings related to foreclosures. A sign of the times.

    I'm suddenly getting this image of a pickup truck pulling up behind a courthouse, and a dozen lawyers scrambling up, and the guy in the trick shouting, over the ruckus, "Three! I need THREE! Three guys who can do probate! You, you there, the big one… can you do probate? OK! Two more! TWO! Just two more! That's it! Done! No more for today! No more! Come back tomorrow!"

  20. Clifford says

    @Brian Tannebaum

    C'mon, what's one more dollar? You guys almost have a contract.

  21. That Anonymous Coward says

    Prenda uses/used Craigslist.
    The Germans looking for a legal dream team snailmailed tons of people (recent grads mostly IIRC).

    So is this email a prime example of what happens to a business when the CEO feels compelled to cut overhead and costs so he can earn 3000 times what an employee does?

  22. says

    According to the article Ken referenced:

    "The hearings covered by MyMotionCalendar.com are nondispositive, meaning they are procedural and don't typically have an impact on the broader case."

    Now I am a Texas litigator and know nothing about Florida procedure, but I am pretty sure even in Florida a "motion to dismiss" or a "motion for summary judgment" is dispositive.

  23. Charley says

    maybe they have you listed by county, and their database is so bad that they don't differentiate between orange county florida and orange county california?

    Not that orange county florida is close enough to make taking a case in the panhandle reasonable.

  24. nlp says

    For some reason, instead of MyMotionCalendar, I keep reading that as MyLittleMotion.

  25. manybellsdown says

    Everyone else is making these witty comments, and I still can't get past the fact they want you to buy a $500 plane ticket for a job that pays $75.

  26. JTG says

    I wonder if they simply had a form that had blanks, and they simply fill in the blanks with semi-random values. But then, then forgot to have the value in the "blank" before the "vs." be the same as the value in the "blank" after the "Representing Plaintiff". Not a good sign if they forgot about a detail like that.

  27. Ken Mencher says

    And I thought I got some weird emails to one of my accounts (I've got one where about a half-dozen people seem to think it's theirs, so I get phone bills from three different countries, job offers, and notices to bring a car in for service every so often)….

    I can't believe someone involved with the legal profession being that sloppy (The time of the hearing is different, depending on which section of the email you're reading, and the plaintiff changes, too)…

    This has got to be some idiot spammer who knows nothing about legal matters…

  28. Anony Mouse says

    "They also sound like they're pretty much limited to Florida."

    When I closed on my house, my agent told me that you can't hardly sneeze in Florida without hitting a lawyer (or a billboard for one), and that they're used for almost everything. If Florida has such an absolute glut of lawyers, it's possible that the market's been depressed so that there's a lot who'll work for $75.

  29. Sterling Archer says

    If they only charge $75 for a hearing, what else will they do for $75? Can I hire them to go and yell at some guy for $75? I could get someone to do it cheaper from Craigslist, but I don't think they would show up in a suit.