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Have you had trouble finding a lawyer to help you?


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In my experience, attorneys told me, "The amount is far too small to be worth the fight, settle it," and passed on the case. I'm curious how many other people hear this.

I think lots of people do. Right or wrong, the thought process might include something like, "This guy couldn't make minimum payments on a credit card, how is he going to pay me $200/hr?

If you have a claim that allows for the recovery of attorney's fees, I suspect the reponse may be somewhat different.

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It all comes down to money. Defending people who can't pay their bills means you won't get paid either. Even so, at 2-300 per hour, how long would it be before your legal bills exceed the debt? Better you learn the info and do it yourself. It's like the old "good news-bad news" thing. Good news is I got you a 100,000 win. The bad news is the legal bill is 140,000. Litigation is very time consuming and expensive.

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How many of these lawsuits are just a calculated risk?

As a CC company, it's easier to get $2000 from 10 people than one judgment for $20,000 where the defendant is more inclined to fight the complaint.

For those 10 people, the companies don't even need to file a 'proper' complaint because they don't have to, they're relying on the scariness of the experience to help them win. These are credit cards with usually smaller credit lines, given to sub-prime borrowers. I'm curious what the distribution of these account is like, geographically and demographically.

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I met with an atty over some junk debt buyers hounding me. He said he would feel bad taking my money because the best he could do was settle for about 30 cents on the dollar, and I could really do that myself.

I asked about fighting and counterclaims. He said to please take the money I would pay him and apply it to a settlement. You will benefit so much more from that then a long and costly legal battle that you will probably lose.

I thanked him for his time, honesty, and what appeared not wanting to take advantage of someone. I then went out, learned the law, fought the junk debt buyers, counter sued, sued, and used the motivation of somebody telling me that I could not do it or it could be done as the driving force.

You say it can't be done? Watch this.

I met with that same atty four years later. He admitted that I "beat the odds."

The problem, as it was told to me, with getting awarded atty fees, is that they are awarded but what the court decides is reasonable, not what is billed. In other words the court is not going to award an hour of time the atty bills to review the complaint and pleadings on a four page lawsuit that is a cookie cutter, fill in the blanks, type lawsuit, they look over as they are walking into the courtroom as the judge is taking the bench.

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How many of these lawsuits are just a calculated risk?

All of them. They are pursuing people who no longer are able to pay their bills, for various reasons. The odd case is the one where the defendant just says blank you, I won't pay and there is nothing you can do about it. I have no job, no income, no assets, nothing you can take. Get your judgment and use it for toilet paper.

That aside, the vigor with which they will pursue you depends on what they think they can get. Usually they do some homework before bringing suit. If you appear to be a good target with a nice home and cars, income, they'll go for it. If all they see in their databases is a blank screen, they may think twice.

Usually they roll the dice until they see if you have legal expertise and will fight. Then, they have to make a decision. Do I pay an attorney 10-20 grand to fight a credit card case in which I have zero chance of getting a recovery? Often they will not. If it is a junk debt buyer, the chances are even less.

It can go either way. That's their problem, not yours. Your job is to make it as impossible as you can for them to either win, or to collect if they do.

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Do I pay an attorney 10-20 grand to fight a credit card case in which I have zero chance of getting a recovery?

That's pretty much it, but realize collection attorneys generally work on contingency. The plaintiff fronts the money for the filing of complaint and service of process, and the attorney doesn't make a dime unless he collects from the defendant. Every now and then, you'll find a collection attorney who charges a non-contingent suit fee (maybe 5% or so), but that is the exception.

If the consumer files a counterclaim, the plaintiff has to decide whether to use the collection attorney to defend the suit (now, on an hourly basis), or to use another firm (lots of them have firms they use only for defense).

And, collection attorneys do not like to get involved in protracted litigation when they're suing a consumer with no assets. They aren't going to get paid. The pretty much have to though, because of the volume of other work they get from the collector.

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