Okay, so here I am minding my own business (and yours) when up pops this little story from the New York Lawyer:
L.I. Attorney Censured Over High Fees
New York LawyerAugust 29, 2006
By Michael SchollNew York Law Journal
MINEOLA - Patent lawyer Michael I. Kroll of Syosset has been publicly censured for charging excessive fees to 75 clients.
The Appellate Division, Second Department, last week unanimously voted to confirm a special referee's report that had sustained two counts of professional misconduct against Mr. Kroll. The court found in Matter of Michael I. Knoll, 2005-00782, that Mr. Kroll violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by charging excessive fees for preparing patent applications.
A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office investigation into Mr. Kroll's fees was begun in 2000 after one of his clients, Lynn Svevad, complained to the office. Ms. Svevad had been seeking to patent a computer software program that allows users to have simulated conversations with deceased relatives.
The Appellate Division said the investigation found that the average fee charged in the New York City area for preparation of an application was $700. It also found that Mr. Kroll charged and collected $11,500 for the same service from Ms. Svevad.The investigation also identified 75 clients who were charged similar fees by Mr. Knoll for the same work.
Naturally, my short attention span distills this whole sorid affair into a
Daily News headline:
PREDATORY LAWYER GETS HOOKED BY OVERCHARGRING PREDATORY BOTTOM-FISHING MORBID COMPUTER GEEK - No Survivors Worth Mentioning
But what of the bait?
Seriously, this woman tries to patent a program that simulates you having an email conversation with long-dead Aunt Haddie, and then complains that her lawyer charged her too much to license such stupidity? Why couldn't she find a reputable attorney to prosecute a patent application that permits people to chat-room with dead folks?
(Um...nevermind. I figured it out by myself.)
The Court (wisely) held that the stupid lawyer in this case is liable for stupidly overcharging his stupid client amounts beyond the stupid level of their obvious stupidity. No verdict was returned as to whether Ms. Svevad (say that three times fast) was liable for luring the desperate into a place where her digital clouds obscured those last few lights remaining in the safe harbor of reason.
Ubi mel ibi apes . (Where there is honey, there are bees.) And where there are bees, there are bears. That's life as I know it. And that's ok.
But tomorrow is another day.