Hot Dog Lawyers And The Courthouse Scam

Greenfield posted this morning about lawyers advertising their services on hot dog stands outside the courthouse. Reminded me of a few things that only I would consider blawgworthy, but then I make the decisions around this place, so here goes.

First, we used to have a Porfirio’s Tacos truck serving muy delicioso tacos, including my favorite, the al carbon. (My favorite might have been the al pastor, but they didn’t serve that.) They would pull up in a little truck and park halfway onto the sidewalk outside “the annex” – that is, what we used to call the criminal courthouse.

They disappeared many years ago, around the time the new building was constructed, and one of the less charitable rumors was that they didn’t voluntarily abandon us, but that new rules and stricter enforcement of the health and safety regulations prohibited their continued existence. I for one miss them. (The best places – as well as the worst – are dives, and you don’t get much dive-ier than selling tacos out of the back of a pickup/camper top.)

Second, we’ve never had a hot dog stand anywhere near our Travis County Courthouse, old or new, but I did have one of my best frankfurters of the last decade outside the federal prosecutor’s office. It’s an off topic memory, but my mind wanders when I start thinking about food.

Third, and somewhat back on topic, is Scott’s general point:

Of course, putting a sign up on the umbrella stand has its down side as well. It's as certain a way of letting the rest of your fellow lawyers know how desperate you are for business, and how low you'll go to get it. It's, well, embarrassing.

Do you really want to broadcast to the world that you're the sort of lawyer who does misdemeanors for $99? But for those who do, and are unashamed of doing anything and everything to make a quick buck, it's definitely a high exposure location.

And never mind the humiliation, do you even want clients that find their lawyers at a portable snack bar? If they don’t put much thought into whom they hire, instinct might tell you this ain’t gonna be a top notch client. And I’m not just talking about low fees. There are few things more annoying than working out some XYZ = dismissal deal, or prepping a suppression hearing for a client that will ultimately bond forfeit and disappear entirely because he can’t bother to wake up before noon.

This brings me to point number four: I fell for a courthouse scam myself the other day. Every once in a while, you can spot a guy searching for a lawyer in the hallways outside the courtrooms. These people should typically be avoided at all costs. They have shown up for the second or third time without a lawyer, and the judge has yelled at them and told them they must hire a lawyer ASAP. If you can’t see the warning signs, I’m not articulate enough to explain them to you.

So, I’m standing in line for the elevator, and a random guy comes up and asks me if I have a card. Great. I’m a captive audience, and I don’t feel like lying and saying “no,” so I say, “yes,” and fumble for one while hoping he’s not going to explain the intricacies of his fascinating hot check case to me. Maybe he will lose it before he calls my assistant to set up a free consultation.

And then as I hand it to him… he hands me his! “I’m a process server, I work for lawyers all the time, let me know when you need a subpoena served.” Not a bad scam. He’s taking my card; I can’t just say, “I already have one I use/trust”. Nope, I gotta take it. And it made it all the way back to my office where I wrote a note on it to remind me to write this post.

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Windypundit - March 10, 2010 12:17 PM

That last one was cool. I mean, it's kind of a sneaky, manipulative trick...but is that a bad thing in a process server?

Jamie - March 10, 2010 3:52 PM

Yeah well, I tried to warn you the post was gonna suck :)

And no, it's not a bad thing, it's a great advertisement, "Look how sneaky I can be!"

Paul Walcutt - March 13, 2010 3:42 PM

I like it. You gotta be creative and convincing, and he knows that lawyers cannot resist the "Are you a lawyer?"-guy at the courthouse despite our better judgment.

Las Vegas Divorce Attorney - April 15, 2010 1:03 AM

criminal lawyer is very good to decrease crime rate.

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