Do You Want Fries With That Lawyer? - Articles

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Posted by: William Haltom on Sep 7, 2011

Journal Issue Date: Aug 2011

Journal Name: August 2011 - Vol. 47, No. 8

In the second decade of the 21st century, we Americans have become very impatient. We absolutely refuse to wait for anything. When we’re hungry, we want our food fast, or more accurately, fast food. We don’t have time to wait for a table at a restaurant and then wait for the waiter and then wait for our food. And above all, we can’t waste a billable hour having a casual lunch with a friend or colleague.

No, we just pull up next to the drive-by window at McWindy’s, grab a supersized McWhopper, and then snarf it down while we head to our next important meeting.

When we need to send a letter to a friend or client, we no longer pull out a fountain pen and paper, or sit at a typewriter or even talk into a dictaphone. Letters take time and thought to compose, and then it takes at least a day or two before they are even delivered! Who has time for that?

No, nowadays we either email, text, tweet, bark, meow or moo. There is absolutely no time for detached reflection. In fact, we no longer filter our messages. A thought just pops into our head and then rolls out to the entire world in the form of an instant message, email or tweet.

President Harry S. Truman was known as “Give ’Em Hell Harry” in part because of his habit of dictating letters when he was angry. But more often than not, when President Truman saw the draft of one of his give-’em-hell letters, he simply tore it in half rather than mailing it out.

Too bad Congressman Anthony Weiner didn’t follow the same example, although to my knowledge President Truman never had to tear up a photograph.

We Americans won’t even stand in line for a movie anymore. We can order a flick instantly from our cable TV company, and while I’ve never done it, I’ve been told that if I wanted to, I could actually watch a movie on my iPhone. I always thought the whole idea of a movie was to watch it on a big screen. Watch a movie on my telephone? Surely you must be kidding, and as Leslie Nielsen never said on my telephone, “No, and don’t call me Shirley!”

We don’t even waste time with our friends anymore. Thanks to “Facebook” and other so-called “social networking” sites, we can use our really smart phones to “friend” everybody we know on the planet (and even some folks we don’t know) with a quick message such as, “I’m sitting in traffic eating my McWhopper with cheese as I head to an important meeting! GGN!”

Well, my fellow busy lawyers, you’ll never guess the latest thing that is now available in just 15 minutes. Are you ready for this? A lawyer! That’s right, we lawyers can now be delivered in 15 minutes, just like a pizza!

According to a recent article in The New York Times (which I read on my raspberry smart phone while sitting in my car eating a taco), a new company called “Lawyer Up” now promises it can get a lawyer on your case within 15 minutes. There is even an app for this service now available on Android phones and under development for iPhones.

You can subscribe to Lawyer Up for just $4.95 a month. If you don’t have a subscription, you can pay a flat rate fee of $100 for your first call to Lawyer Up. Let me quickly add that this does not mean the attorney you access through Lawyer Up is going to work for $4.95 a month or a flat-rate fee of $100. Those fees just get you access to a lawyer. When you call Lawyer Up, you will first talk to an operator who will obtain credit card information to pay the fee for the insta-lawyer who is about to represent you in 15 minutes or your money back!

I’m not totally sure how this will work. There’s got to be a whole lot of McEthical issues involved. And you also have to wonder if Lawyer Up may end up outsourcing all calls to a lawyer in New Delhi or Calcutta.

Also, who would pay $4.95 a month to have a lawyer on a virtual retainer within 15 minutes, 24/7? Don’t all those lawyers who advertise on TV promise they are just “one call away”?

But I wouldn’t bet against Lawyer Up. They will probably soon be joined in the “fast lawyer” industry by McLawyers, Lawyer King, and Godfather’s Lawyers. Don’t be surprised if the next time you pull up to the drive-by window at McWindy’s, you are asked, “Do you want fries with your lawyer?”

Bill Haltom BILL HALTOM is a partner with the Memphis firm of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell. He is past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and is a past president of the Memphis Bar Association.