“Anatomy of a Disaster.”
Have you ever witnessed something so terrible that even as it is unfolding in front of you, your mind fights against accepting it as truth?
I was in a pretty bad rafting accident in college. After the boat flipped I remained trapped underneath it for what felt like an eternity.
As fought to get out from under the Rubber Vehicle of Terror, I realized:
This could be how I die.
When I finally became free of the raft, what I saw looming ominously in front of me was “Oh Shit Rock.”
“Oh Shit Rock” enjoys this moniker because if you are in the water and end up pinned against it, you are toast.
The power of the river can trap you inches below the surface and you will drown. All the lifejackets in the world won’t save you and your final thought is very likely to be:
“Oh shit. I sure wish I had gone hiking today!”
So there I was: bobbing down the river, coughing up the water I had inhaled while trapped under the raft, and straight ahead of me I saw an object our guide specifically warned us to stay the fuck away from.
And for just a moment, I didn’t believe any of it was happening. For just a moment, I thought the whole thing was a terrible nightmare and I would wake up soon, safe and dry in my bed at home.
If I had remained in that fantasy, I almost certainly would have died that day.
But I didn’t. I woke up and swam my little heart out – away from Oh Shit Rock and to the banks of the Deschutes River that had just tried to kill me.
That reminds me:
Fuck you, Deschutes River. Fuck you, White Horse Rapids! Fuck you, Oh Shit Rock! Fuck all of you!
Sorry. I’ve been meaning to get that out for a while.
Robin Gets to the Point
“What is she on about? Has she lost her mind? Where are we going with this?”
Relax. I’m getting there.
“Anatomy of a Disaster” is a series I am working on that explores two specific domestic relations cases and the obscene billing practices of one firm in both cases. This is a big project with many moving parts that I hope to begin publishing sometime next week.
So why the rafting story?
Because even though I know these obscene billing practices go on every single day all across America, and even though I know this firm in particular struggles with accurate and fair billing, I still almost can’t believe some of the things I am reading in these documents.
It’s that bad.
It’s that obscene.
“Why do you keep using that word ‘obscene,’ Robin?”
Because that’s the word used by an expert witness to describe the creative way one firm chose to bill their client for their “legal services,” which I like to call “The Karma Fucking You Get for Choosing a Lawyer Out of Anger Towards Your Spouse.”
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it...
-Justice Potter Stewart, Jacobellis v. Ohio
I know it when I see it too, only this obscenity is not meant to titillate or to arouse prurient interests.
This obscenity is meant to enrich greedy lawyers so obsessed with money that they would engage in the type of financial violence against their own clients that shocks the conscience.
Not theirs, of course.
One of the prerequisites to work at this firm is to have either been born without a conscience or to agree to have the founder remove it with the rusty bloody blade she keeps in her desk drawer, along with a bottle of Gray Goose® and a Costco-sized bag of Cheetos.®
(apologies to these two brands for what amounts to an anti-endorsement)
“Obscene” is the word used to describe the billing practices of a lawyer who is currently on double-secret probation with the Oregon State Bar (also known as a “Diversion Agreement,” or a “Slap on the Wrist so People Think We Care“).
I concur with this expert’s opinion but I would go further, because when I look at these billing statements what I see, in my opinion, is theft.
- How else do you define lawyers billing you for telephone calls that never happened?
- How do you define multiple lawyers charging to do the same work over and over and over again?
- How else do you define lawyers charging you attorney rates to deliver documents and perform clerical work?
And when, pray tell, is the Oregon State Bar going to do a god-damned thing about this unrelenting assault on Oregon legal consumers?