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» lawyers » Priorities


When Nick Martin at Heat City put up a link to this on Twitter, I started thinking.

Nobody’s going to feel too sorry for lawyers making $250 an hour. If they work 40 hours a week at that rate for a year, they’ll be earning roughly ten times the median household income in the United States. It’s nothing like $450 an hour, where they’d be pushing a million in fees each year working less than I do, but it isn’t bad.

In all fairness, I imagine it’s larger firms doing all the work, so nobody in particular gets all that money. Take out a chunk for a top-floor office with lots of marble, throw in a few expensive associates who don’t contribute anything valuable to the representation, and maybe you need that $450 an hour to make sure the partners don’t default on their Porsche payments. Some firms may be worried.

I’m digging deep, but I’m not finding any sympathy. I’ll tell you why.

Take a look at this, Maricopa County’s contract for indigent defense representation. Scroll to page 18, and you’ll see that the county pay $125 an hour for lead counsel in a capital case and $95 an hour for co-counsel.

When the government wants to murder someone, the county is now willing to shell out exactly half of what it’s willing to shell out to defend itself against a civil suit. Before the new cap, the government thought the cost of trying to save a human life from the state murder machine should be less than a third as much as the cost of defending the bad decisions of Sheriff Joe and Andrew Thomas.

The government has made its priorities clear. Protecting its money is more important than protecting the lives of the legally innocent.

I’m disgusted, but I’m not surprised.

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