I’ve been providing per diem services to other lawyers for many years, generally to rave reviews. I can do the research and writing you don’t have time for, or be in court for you when you can’t be in two places at once, or be that second set of eyes and ears, that second trained legal mind to review your issue or theory and give you feedback and suggestions. So if you’re a lawyer, and you need this kind of help, send me an email and let’s see how I can help!
But what if you’re not a lawyer? I’ve had a number of people get in touch with me because they are self-represented and want some help drafting legal papers or researching a legal issue. That’s not what I set this site up for, and it’s not what it means to be a per diem lawyer. However, in fact, I can help with that too. That’s called help with self-representation, or unbundled legal services, or legal coaching. I am licensed to practice law in New Jersey, and I can advise you or help you with your legal issue, as a lawyer. We can be specific about the limits of what I will or won’t be doing for you, and we can generally keep the costs low. I won’t advise you outside of areas I have experience in. I will still give you my honest opinion about whether your position has legal merit, and I won’t represent you in court unless you are litigating in a court I practice in, and unless I am convinced your position has legal merit. But if you want to represent yourself, and you want some limited form of help like I’ve described, get in touch with me and we’ll see what we can do! Just keep in mind that I will not be writing a brief for you that is due tomorrow.
In over a dozen years of legal practice, I have developed expertise in family law, divorce, mediation, and employment law, to name a few. But the great advantage of being a per diem attorney is that I can be a true generalist. I may be working on a divorce case this week, determining tricky choice of law issues, but next week I may be opposing a summary judgment motion in a personal injury case, and the week after representing debtor in a bankruptcy meeting. I have worked on criminal matters, foreclosures, general equity, guardianships. I get to call on my law school course-work (I’m so glad I saved those texts) to bring a fresh perspective to the attorneys I serve. Although I practice in New Jersey, I bring in the perspective of what’s happening in other states.
Happy Holidays! As we approach a new year, I’m ready to bring on some changes here at Per Diem New Jersey. I will be adding profiles of some other highly skilled per diem attorneys, so we can serve more attorneys in need of per diem legal help. Soon I hope we will be able to serve the short-term staffing needs of attorneys all over New Jersey, as well as those in neighboring states who need per diem help from a NJ attorney. If you use per diem help please check back often as we add more attorneys. If you do per diem work, or would like to add per diem work to your list of professional offerings, please use the contact me form to get in touch and I’ll tell you all about the opportunity. I hope you all have peaceful holidays and wish you a prosperous start to 2013!
- Megan Oltman
I’ve been getting to know a number of per diem attorneys around New Jersey. I can’t always handle the per diem assignments that come my way, whether because you need a 9 am appearance in Bergen or Cape May and I can’t get up at 4 am to make that happen, or because my plate of per diem projects is full at the moment. But please get in touch anyway because I know some quality per diem attorneys to refer you to.
Here’s a heads up to what’s coming - a new site design. I’m looking for a few good per diem attorneys, who practice in New Jersey, and who’d like to take advantage of the great web placement I’m getting here on perdiemnewjersey.com. I have a limited number of slots for attorneys who would like to be the beta test group for my new site. Use the contact me link and let me know if you’re interested.
- Megan Oltman
Exercising the brain keeps you young, doesn’t it? Per diem legal work is a fountain of youth, then. There’s nothing like reasoning through a nice meaty choice of law issue to keep the synapses firing! I’m working on choice of law in insurance coverage where multiple states have a connection to the accident.
Recently I have been researching a number of questions for a personal injury attorney-client. As a per diem attorney I enjoy being a generalist and gaining experience and knowledge in many different areas of practice. In the 1990’s I wrote a number of plaintiff’s side insurance settlement letters in personal injury cases for another attorney-client. Lately I have been helping an attorney-client to evaluate potential claims by researching New Jersey law on various personal injury scenarios.
Of course I am glad to have my client’s ideas about where to start the research, but beyond that it is fun to explore the area. It takes me back to first semester research and writing class at NYU School of Law, where we were let loose with a research issue and little guidance as to where to start. It was like a scavenger hunt through the law library. Today the stakes are different (a real client’s needs versus an abstract research assignment) and I have much more knowledge about where to look and how to analyze what I find. I still get a thrill, though, teasing out the real issue and relevant law, reviewing the underlying doctrines, wandering through the maze of statutes, treatises and case law, to reach a recommendation for my client.
- Megan Oltman
Both state and federal bankruptcy judges in New Jersey have recently dismissed residential foreclosure actions where the lender could not produce the actual mortgage note in a timely fashion. I am looking forward to reading the cases in more detail - it appears there should be help for distressed homeowners here. If any attorneys out there could use research on this point, I’m about to do it anyway.
When you are work in a large firm, there is always another attorney or two with whom you can check your impressions or judgment about a case, and get some additional strategy ideas. If you are a solo practitioner or in a quite small firm, you often have to proceed without those eyes and ears. I was recently asked to write a brief on a possible instance of judicial bias. I was given the transcript of what was said at trial to review by the attorney of record. I was able to not only confirm her hearing of the implications of what the judge had said, but also to write up a concise motion for the judge to recuse herself, enabling the attorney to continue her busy week of client meetings and court appearances.
When a client is looking for an attorney, they are not looking for detachment. They are probably looking for a zealous advocate. Your ability to advocate for your clients is your virtue. It is also your headache, as it may keep you up at night and have a deleterious effect on your stomach lining.
One of the hidden virtues of a per diem attorney is detachment. Your client is not my client - you are. You can be a zealous advocate for your client; my job is to give you the material you need to do that. I do the research and legal analysis without the client, the adversary, or the court breathing down my neck. I review your file and the relevant law and give you my honest judgment of the best way for you to proceed. It’s your case, and you get the final say, but sometimes my perspective opens things up.
In one hotly contested motion I worked on recently, the vituperative language in opposing counsel’s brief put me in mind of a quote from a popular comedian. Pointing it out to the attorney of record (my client) enabled her to get a little perspective on counsel’s blow-hard tactics, and we wrote our reply brief with lightened minds, able to point out just how ridiculous he was being.
It can be hard to keep an eye on the bigger picture in the midst of aggressive motion practice. In another recent case where motions upon motions have been flying thick and fast, I was able to point out to my attorney-client the reasons that one particular motion needed no opposition from him, saving him and his client some time and money.
When you bring me in you get the value of my legal experience and expertise, but you also get the perspective of someone a step removed from the fray.
- Megan Oltman