Litigation

Rent-a-Judge

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I love my job. I opened up my email just now and found this press release:

[RENT-A-JUDGE] is designed to cut through bureaucratic procedures and eliminate unnecessary legal wrangling. With RENT-A-JUDGE's approach, each party focuses on the core issues of their case and submits a fixed number of pages of documents to prepare for the one-day hearing, which starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. Presided over by a seasoned attorney with at least 20 years of experience, the hearing culminates in a written, reasoned opinion from RENT-A-JUDGE within five business days. The price is a fixed $10,000 per case, with the plaintiff and the defendant each paying $5,000 of the fee. The process is non-binding, unless both parties agree in advance to make it binding.

This might sound ridiculous, but is actually a great idea. It's competition for a pretty confusing (and often confused) judicial system that frequently fails to meet the needs of many of its users. In cases where both parties want speedy resolution, private arbitration has long been an option. Rent-a-Judge simply refines that concept further, putting a slightly silly advertising campaign on a product that could pretty obviously be useful in certain kinds of cases.

This won't be the right mode of arbitration for complex legal questions involving many players and multiple jurisdictions. But it's fast, it's cheap, and even though somebody loses—everybody wins.

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  1. But why rent when you can own?

  2. That’s pretty neat, have to say.

  3. I wonder how long things like Rent-A-Judge will last before the existing legal system decides this cuts into their prominence.

    “Hey, you’re makin’ us look bad ova’ here.”

  4. It will be shut down, it is an affront to our current legal system, so it’s probably illegal. Like this

    The process is non-binding, unless both parties agree in advance to make it binding.

    How do they have legal authority to make it binding? It doesn’t seem right to take this serious of a responsibility away from the government.

  5. Arbitration is a rather old and accepted practice. Ask Judge Judy.

  6. How do they have legal authority to make it binding?

    They sign a contract where both sides wave their right to sue in court.

  7. Judge Judy is a real judge though…sheesh.

  8. Hate to rain on the “government ruins everything” parade, but nearly every jurisdiction in the country already offers this, typically ranging in cost from anywhere from free for small claims courts to a couple hundred bucks for more specialized claims. You take a 50 hour class in mediation, get a certificate, and go to the court house on a specified date, and you’re a mediatior, which means that you do just exactly what these lawyers are doing, usually for about 50 bucks a case. I got certified as part of my MS in dispute resolution. It’s mostly semi-retired lawyers looking to keep their skills sharp and younger mediators looking to get some experience on the cheap and easy. And I daresay it works about as well as the above service would.

  9. I should add, typically with the exception of rendering judgment, which the mediator is not actually there to do. The idea is to facilitate the process to the point where the two parties can come to an agreement. Which is not actually as difficult as it sounds, once you know how it’s done.

  10. I wonder how long things like Rent-A-Judge will last before the existing legal system decides this cuts into their prominence.

    You beat me to it.

    Shem,

    If you had a better marketing plan you could have been making $10,000/case instead of $50 🙂

  11. Is kleinfan92 a spoof troll?

  12. It isn’t illegal. It’s your basic arbitration/mediation firm with a marketing twist. And is it me, or is that the most expensive arbitration/mediation firm you’ve ever seen. $10,000 per case (one day only)? Assuming 8 hours of mediation, plus, say, three hours to write an opinion, and we’re talking close to $1,000 per hour. Holy moly!

  13. Coming soon to your neighborhood Wal-Mart!

  14. I prefer Judge Dredd Arbitration, Inc.

  15. “I prefer Judge Dredd Arbitration, Inc.”

    I knew you would say that.

  16. What’s great is that Judge Dredd’s decisions are final.

  17. Crap! Ricardo Montalban has died, too! What is this, Kill Off Actors Pro Libertate Likes Day?

  18. Assuming 8 hours of mediation, plus, say, three hours to write an opinion, and we’re talking close to $1,000 per hour.

    [lights Cuban cigar with $100 bill while polishing monocle AND adjusting top hat]

    I ain’t takin’ a pay cut for a crap job like that.

  19. And it is the end of rich corinthian leather too . . .

  20. The Rent a Judge thing confuses me.

    They use a low rent name like that then want 10g?

  21. Sounds like someone invented fixed-price arbitration. I wonder how it compares to the typical costs of going through the American Arbitration Association.

    -jcr

  22. Yes, this is just like current mediation/arbitration. I guess the high price tag is so that your arbitrator actually puts out a decision quickly instead of making you wait for two months.

  23. Mock Trial with J. Reinhold!

  24. Crap! Ricardo Montalban has died, too! What is this, Kill Off Actors Pro Libertate Likes Day?

    WTF!

    KHAAAAAAAAN!

  25. THE URKOBOLD IS DISPLEASED. HIS PLANS TO MATE
    RICARDO MONTALBAN AND SALMA HAYEK, IN ORDER TO BREED THE PERFECT MEXICAN ACTOR, HAVE RECEIVED A SIGNIFICANT SETBACK.

  26. Just thinking out loud here, but why not Rent-a-Judgment? Instead of all of the cost in time and money in going through protracted arbitration, why not just pay, say, me to judge you? Sum up your side in five minutes, give me a few pages of evidence, ditto the other side, and I’ll come to a snap conclusion within thirty minutes. That includes the ten minutes of argument. For the low, low price of $1,000!

  27. PL,

    I think the ‘mob’ has that method locked up.

  28. I’ll do it for $750.

  29. Ignore Silentz. Go with the licensed attorney, and the one with the better blog commenter cognomen.

  30. THE URKOBOLD IS DISPLEASED. HIS PLANS TO MATE
    RICARDO MONTALBAN AND SALMA HAYEK, IN ORDER TO BREED THE PERFECT MEXICAN ACTOR, HAVE RECEIVED A SIGNIFICANT SETBACK.

    Out of my keenly honed sense of duty and sacrifice, I will volunteer to stand in for Mr. Montalban. I can pretend to be Mexican for a few hours. Or days.

  31. Pro Liberate,

    I’m beginning to think you are a licensed attorney. Picking on the little guy, huh?

  32. ?Quien Es Mas Macho? ?Fernado Lamas ou Ricardo Montalban?

  33. THE URKOBOLD IS DISPLEASED. HIS PLANS TO MATE
    RICARDO MONTALBAN AND SALMA HAYEK, IN ORDER TO BREED THE PERFECT MEXICAN ACTOR, HAVE RECEIVED A SIGNIFICANT SETBACK.

    Trying to act on the same stage as a man with the voice of Ricardo Montalban and the breasts of Salma Hayek would be like trying to have sex surrounded by aroused male elephants.

  34. Out of my keenly honed sense of duty and sacrifice, I will volunteer to stand in for Mr. Montalban. I can pretend to be Mexican for a few hours. Or days.

    Bah. I can put in a much better offer. I’m actually a quarter Mexican, and, trust me, with Ms. Hayak I wouldn’t take more than five minutes, tops.

  35. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress….

    Justice is expensive!

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