Collector- June 2018 - 40

BUSINESSOPERATIONS

Did You Hire the Right Lawyer?
A new ACA Hot Topic seminar answers all your questions about how to work most effectively with your attorney.

E

very business needs legal counsel,
and nobody more so than a debt
collection agency. More than 15,400
lawsuits were filed against collection
agencies in 2017, according to WebRecon. A
good lawyer can provide smart strategy so
you can avoid costly mistakes.
Mike Frost, chief legal officer and
general counsel for The CBE Group Inc.,
and Richard Perr, Esq., partner at Fineman
Krekstein & Harris, P.C., will present a
new ACA International Hot Topic online
seminar, It's Time to Fire Your Lawyer, on
June 14.
We spoke with Frost about how agencies
can develop effective legal strategies in this
highly charged litigious atmosphere.

Q
A

Why is good legal representation
so important in the credit and
collection industry?
Not only is good legal representation
important to your bottom line in terms
of dollars spent selecting the right cases
to fight, fighting the case and obtaining
a positive outcome, but also getting the
right advice in order to avoid unnecessary
expenses in cases that will not have a longterm positive ROI.

40

Good legal representation also has an
impact on the industry as a whole, not just
the individual company involved in the
litigation. We have all seen those cases that
should have been settled for one reason
or another impacting the entire industry
in a negative way for years following
the judicial decision. The right legal
representation will assist in determining
when to fold the hand, which oftentimes is
more important than a win.

Q
A

What are some warning signs that
your lawyer is not the right fit?
At the end of the day, the most
important element of a good legal
partnership is understanding each other's
needs. For me, those are:
Budget: Similar to operations
departments, legal departments have budgets
and goals. If the fees charged by the outside
counsel are too steep to allow me to hit my
budget numbers, I will not be able to use
them for many cases or any claims at all.
Effectiveness: When I decide to put my
money at risk on a case, I have to know
I am going into battle with an effective
litigator. I am not seeking a teacher or a
good presenter. I need someone who will

walk into the courtroom and give me the
best chance to win.
My Interests First: My outside counsel
needs to know that I come first. That
doesn't mean that they have to suck up to
me-it means they have to keep my end
goal in mind, both on a case-by-case basis
and from a long-term objective. Handling a
one-off case to a quick settlement may have
long-term negative effects on my litigation
budget. I can't allow blood to be thrown
into the water in quick, easy settlements
when I am dealing with volume filers, and
I can't afford for counsel to treat a one-off
minor claim as the next U.S. Supreme Court
decision that will rock the industry. There
is a balance in the process, and my outside
counsel needs to understand that balance.

Q
A

How can a good lawyer save
you money?
The most expensive case you will ever
endure are those you fight that you
shouldn't. Not just in terms of real dollars,
but also in opportunity cost and operational
expense. As Matt Damon said in the movie
Rounders: "Few players recall big pots they
have won-strange as it seems-but every
player can remember with remarkable

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