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On his podcast he said he spent it all and over 100k on top of it on the pre-trial legal and expert fees.

That is insane. $600k in legal fees for a case that didn't even go to trial? Is this normal?

Yes. Think of it this way at $2000 USD an hour ( cheap for a top law firm with the relevant expertise ) $600K USD is only 300 hours of representation. Figure roughly 10 hours a week and suddenly 6 months of negotiations looks damn near impossible for anyone less than a multinational.

Patents are one of the few areas of the law where it's cheaper to attack than defend. And at present they are the greatest threat to the most dynamic sectors of an otherwise sclerotic economy.

Any politician that is not actively pushing to reform the patent issuance and defense process is blasting the seed corn with a blowtorch. Burning the future.

you can hire a very very good patent litigator for $700 an hour. Some big names charge as much as $1000 but I know of no one who charges anything close to $2000. my rate as a fifth year associate at a 'top' firm varies a little by case and client but is generally around $500.

I was thinking that, and the $2k/hour does seem high on the estimate side, but consider how many people may have been on the case.

A colleague was telling me a story of using an area firm to collect a debt, and complained about the billing. Their attorneys were >$200/hour, and they'd often do 'status update' phone calls with more than one attorney on the line. My colleague just grimaced on these calls doing mental accounting of ... "well, that was a $600 call.... there was an $800 call, etc".

If there were, say, 3 people doing some work at... $250/hr, $600k can still go pretty fast (definitely less than 6 months of part time work).

Wasn't there a story just a few days ago about the huge oversupply of lawyers right now? Why isn't this driving legal costs down?

Because legal talent has a power distribution. Here are words litigants will hear: "get the best attorney you can afford, this isn't an area where you want to cut costs. A great attorney can save you money." Get the picture?

The huge oversupply of lawyers is coming from lower-tier law schools.

> The huge oversupply of lawyers is coming from lower-tier law schools.

Is there a relationship/correlation between a lawyer's capability and the school they come from? I'm sure informally it's something people assume but I have no practical experience dealing with or knowing about the quality of lawyers' work.

In my experience, there's only a weak correlation. You're much better off looking at their repeat clients. If they serve sophisticated parties on a repeat basis, it's about the best indicator you'll get.

It is driving legal costs down for the simple tasks.

The average salary for a lawyer in the UK is well below the national average salary. For the average UK lawyer, starting at the floor at McDonalds and working your way up is more profitable when factoring in the cost of law school.

But when you're facing a lawsuit, people tend to not look for "the cheapest that'll do", but "the best you can afford". If supply increases and prices drop, then that means you hire a better lawyer, not a cheaper one, and the worse ones end up doing simpler tasks.

It is. Just not on stated rates. Clients negotiate for lower budgets/rates more successfully now that a few years ago. Many firms keep their nominal rates high to maintain the appearance of demand and prestige.

Are you really going to replace a lawyer with 20 years of experience in their field with a fresh graduate?

Remember how aarowsw basically went broke (~$2mm) fighting the DA for his case? :(

yes. $2 million through trial is pretty standard.

This is how we still have Patent Trolls! They know that no one can afford to go to trial. Broken System!!!!

The patent-game fundamentally changed last year. New administrative law procedures are killing patents with about an 85% kill rate for 1/5 the cost of district court trials. It's the biggest patent law story right now. Many highly-regarded plaintiff's firms have stopped taking contingency patent cases in recent months as a result of the stats we're seeing. http://www.insidecounsel.com/2014/03/19/patent-owners-beware...

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