I saved a family farm today. My piece of California law is a game of legalized extortion. My client is a lovely Dutch dairy family, and the guy on the other side wanted $800,000 from them. Their prior attorneys (A big, fancy-pants national firm) charged them $55000 in fees and told them to be prepared to settle for $400,000. That was just before Christmas, and they called me to see what I thought.

I may just be a small-time lawyer in Fresno, but dairy is what I do and no one knies better than me how to defend these cases. I took over the case and got my people on the ground to talk to witnesses the big boys had missed, and asked questions they had not thought to ask.

I settled it for $60000 today, and the dairyman insisted on shaking my hand twice before we left. What I do is often frustrating and discouraging, but days like today are sweet. It feels good when I can help someone in a real way. I’m treating myself with a beer and a nice dinner to celebrate.

I am ashamed of my profession that my big firm brethren charged so much for so little. My bill will be about $10k, maybe a little less. Lawyers deserve how the public sees us. One of my clients once told me I was the cheapest lawyer he uses, and I liked that. It is stupidly easy to be profitable in a law firm if you have enough work, so there is no need to be greedy.