2008-03-05

My future in Athens

It is all on the line now. I graduate from law school in May. Will I find a job, or will I become yet another Athenian who fled from our stagnant economy in this town? Employment opportunities for lawyers are limited in Athens, and this is why I am interested in running my own practice. However, law can't be practiced well in isolation; I need to find a potential mentor and colleague with whom to share responsibilities. There are lawyers who are busy enough to need help, and I have a lot to offer in the way of my client relations skills and fresh training. Will this happen? Or will I be blogging in Atlanta World soon?

6 comments:

Model Consumer said...

You gots to stay!

Polusplagchnos said...

You've got to be kidding me. I remember when you were an undergraduate...

Mike-El said...

Have you considered costumed crimefighting after dark? We could sure use you.

Polusplagchnos said...

Just to not be unclear, I'm happy you will be graduated soon, Adrian. I just can't believe I've been such a slacker.

Winfield J. Abbe said...

Adrian: Over the years I have dealt with many lawyers in Athens;
The late Phil Duderwicz, Gary Pledger, Ken Packer, Suzanne Burton, Bill Bushnell, Gary Blasingame, Bobby Gibson and many others. One of them used to mark various cases with colors, varying from green, blue, yellow, orange, and red. Green represented the "easy" money; wills, real estate transfer, name changes etc., usually involving little more than copying preprinted standard forms.
Red represented the "difficult" money, landlord tenant disputes. These are the cases which require all the time but usually provide no money to the lawyer unless it is paid by the landlord. The other colors represent everything else in between. This suggests an area you could specialize in and even address longstanding unfairness in the law at the same time. Because there is so little money in this, most lawyers have shunned landlord tenant disputes. Unless one already has a relationship with an attorney, most lawyers won't even answer telephone calls if the answer to the question posed by the secretary "What is the nature of your case?" is a landlord tenant dispute. Most lawyers have deserted landlords. The landlord tenant law in Georgia, and supporting case law, is totally unbalanced in favor of the tenant. The instant a tenancy is created, the landlord immediately loses control of his property. The tenant, regardless of what may have been agreed to in advance in writing, can only be removed by the landlord being forced to pay money to the Magistrate's court and the local Sheriff's office. Theoretically, while this does not often happen, a tenant could even appeal all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court and possibly elsewhere, all the while remaining in the premises and possibly not paying any rent while destroying the premises and dealing in drugs or engaging in a host of other illegal or improper activities. There is a golden opportunity for some lawyer to take up the rape of landlords by the Georgia Law and make money at the same time since most lawyers have abandoned the landlords. Store front businesses receive "free" and immediate "justice". If a customer remains in a store front business or a motel without paying or seeking to removing property unlawfully, the police will immediately arrest the suspect. And that businessman does not have to pay the police for the service. But if a tenant refuses to obey any rule even agreed to in writing in advance, the landlord has no choice but to pay money to the Magistrates Court to remove the tenant, which could, theoretically, appeal the case all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court if they had the resources to do so or the "free" legal aid, to accomplish that. This is discusting stuff Adrian. Just place yourself in the position of the landlord for a minute.
Best wishes for the future in whatever you choose to do Adrian. I am sure you will be a good and honest lawyer.

Winfield J. Abbe
150 Raintree Ct.
Athens, GA 30607

Adrian said...

Winfield, thanks for your kind words. I do hope to be honest and all those other cliched, ideal things that are important. It almost rings hollow to say I want to be honest and all that, but at the end of the day that is all that matters.

I respectfully disagree with your assessment of Georgia landlord-tenant law. If you compare Georgia with certain other states, it appears we favor the landlords. Once a dispute gets into court, the landlords have the upper hand; without a lease, tenants do not have a right to keep their home for longer than the notice period. An exception is when federal assistance and federal regulation get involved in the lease terms.

As for the rights that tenants do have, they are practically impossible to enforce. Lawyers are generally too expensive; their fees are higher than the amounts in dispute. Low-income tenants often rent substandard housing on a month to month basis, and if they stand up for their rights, the landlord is likely to terminate the tenancy. I have advised a number of clients on their rights as tenants, but they all either could not afford to litigate or did not want to lose their home by complaining.

If you're a landlord, it does appear to be a burden to have to go to court to enforce your property rights to kick out a delinquent tenant. However, I have two responses to this. First, tenants have access to no corresponding summary proceeding to enforce the landlord's duties -- for example, you can't get the sheriff to serve a court order to fix a leaking roof. Second, there is a long judicial history concerning repossession and self-help that should be respected, and in Georgia the General Assembly has never enacted a law enabling self help, but it has enacted a law providing for a writ of possession in a summary proceeding, so we've had two branches of government consider this problem over the centuries.