Why all the money to lawyers?

There have been several contracts recently awarded to lawyers. The Independent Candidates suggested that the county could cut the spending on legal fees in half by creating a legal department.  However, Lou Magazzu would not be able to reward his political friends with legal services contracts.

Sam Serata, a Republican, campaigned for the Al Kelly Democrat slate in Bridgeton. He was awarded an open-ended contract at $125/ hour.

WHEREAS, the County of Cumberland Purchasing Department properly advertised seeking “fair and open” proposals to furnish and deliver professional services for legal counsel services for the Cumberland County Agriculture Development Board in accordance with N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.4 et seq.

Brendan Kavanaugh already serves as county counsel. So why are we duplicating services that Kavanaugh is surely able to perform? What is he getting paid for?

Another curious expenditure is another contract to Beth Lincow Cole at $145/hour for “for furnishing and delivering professional services for providing harassment investigation services for the County of Cumberland in accordance with N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.4 et seq.”

But the clincher is yet even more money dumped into Jim Florio’s lap.  Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader; Woodbury, NJ were awarded $125.00/hour for professional services, in an open-ended bid, and that “the resolution authorize the award of contract for “Professional Services” without competitive bids”.

How much is this going to cost taxpayers? How long is the county going to continue spending millions annually when the expense can readily be cut in half with the creation of a county legal department?

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31 Responses to Why all the money to lawyers?

  1. Calhoun says:

    Ah lawyers. It was Dick in Shakespeare’s Henry VI who famously said, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Dick’s statement was a compliment to lawyers, as he viewed them as a threat to the revolution he wanted to effect. Today this line has taken on a new meaning, being used by those who are frustrated with our legal system. These contracts show this frustration is not misplaced. Here we are in a near depression, public workers are being laid off or furloughed, programs are being scaled back or eliminated, and yet, the contracts for lawyers continue with no apparent reduction. The legal system richly rewards lawyers; however, for the rest of us, the following Dickens’ (Oliver Twist) quote is relevant: “The law is a[n] ass.”

  2. Samuel J. Serata says:

    Two plus two equals five. I, Sam Serata, have always been a Republican and remain one, although not in agreement with the radical right and other crazies of the party. I have also known Albert Kelly since 1982 when he was the Municipal Court liason for the vicinage and found him to be a bright and honorable person. I really don’t believe he had anything to do with my selection by the Board of Freeholders.

    The slate headed by Albert Kelly in Bridgeton had three Republicans as Council candidates – hardly Democrat. Further, Bridgeton has non-partisan elections by statute, although this has not always been the practice in the past – unfortunately.

    I have been counsel for the Agriculture Development Board since 2002, have a degree in agriculture, and firmly believe in the process and purpose of that Board to preserve farm land since soil is an irreplaceable natural resource.

    The Board of Freeholders fixes the hourly rate and it is contained in the request for proposals. The position was posted and advertised in November, 2009 and again in 2010. Both time I submitted for the position. I do not know if anyone else desired the position or applied for it. I believe the Board has requested the freeholders to select me.

    Finally, I like the work, know something about what is happening, and feel the compensation is inadequate for the work done.

    I do agree there should be a legal department with full time County Counsel, and Assistant Counsel, and a secretarial staff of two. As County Counsel for two years I suggested and recommended this because it would provide development of greater legal expertise in county affairs, but was told it was too expensive. There would still be a need for special counsel in some areas, and the Planning Board and some of the other county boards would require independent attorneys because of conflicts of interest.

  3. Mall Ninja says:

    Imagine that a lawyer justifing a job for a lawyer!

    “Finally, I like the work, know something about what is happening, and feel the compensation is inadequate for the work done.” I’m sorry, but I’m confused. $125 an hour is inadequate? And $66 thousand for a part time job isn’t enough (Brendan)… and the popular belief is the unions are greedy?

  4. Mall Ninja says:

    I think its funny the county is laying off county workers under the guise of their continued refusal to open up previously negotiated contracts, but these guys get open ended contracts!

  5. a-pauled says:

    How about the part-time attorney @ 89,000 doing same job he is collecting a state pension for?

  6. Bridgeton Gary says:

    It’s not surprising that a Mall Ninja considers their time worth the same as a professional. It’s an age old problem. Class warfare. Everybody is equal. Education and experience means nothing in the new world order.

  7. Calhoun says:

    Not class warfare Bridgeton Gary but rather people speaking up against the way in which sacrifice is unfairly being meted out by our freeholder board. Everyone is saying we need to make do with less, people are being furloughed, and important programs scaled back. Yet, here we see over and over again, more contracts being given to attorneys, who, yes, based on their education and experience, command high salaries. I am not complaining about their salaries; I am questioning whether such open ended contracts should be awarded in these tough fiscal times. Lawyers should not be immune from the call that we must make do with less employees.

    Gary criticizing these contracts as “class warfare” has no more merit than your recent charge that referring to a rabbi as, well, a rabbi was anti-Semitic. Nice try, though. Education and experience still mean plenty in the new world order. However, your diversionary tactics of making bogus claims of bias, class warfare, etc. have less currency in the new world, instant media, like this website, giving others a chance to rebut them before they stick.

  8. WuLi says:

    Gary is a Lou apologist, and has a duty as such to find any reason to divert attention away from the crux of whatever pertinent story we are discussing.

    Public employees (if they are lucky enough to still have a job) are being forced to take up to 17% cuts in annual salary throughout the state. Private employees are just being fired.

    Is it really outlandish to request that laywers, too, accept a 10% cut in their hourly rate (based on previous years average payments) in order to ease the strain on the taxpayers?

  9. Bridgeton Gary says:

    Calhoun, you miss the point. Despite what MW says, the legal profession has lost momentum like most other professions. When did 125 an hour become big bucks? Have you ever been to a lawyer? they charge 200 per hour or more if they are established. Just criticizing the “contract” is lame. You know nothing about the work to be done or the value of the advice or experience. I wish my lawyer charged 125 per hour.

    Open ended contracts attract criticism because the uninitiated think open ended means unlimited. Wrong. I bet they bill every week or month so someone is monitoring the cash flow. Every professional I know is doing more with less, with the exception of the medical profession and the government unions. It is class warfare to target anyone who has a higher hourly wage than you may have. It’s like a street sweeper hating a teacher because the teacher works only 10 months and gets off every other day for holidays and has medical for life and a big pension etc, etc, etc.

  10. Calhoun says:

    I think I am on point here. While the legal profession may have lost momentum during the recession, it has lost no steam with our freeholder board. Thus, it is fair to ask “where is the shared sacrifice?” when it comes to attorneys. I am not seeing it. I did not criticize the salary of the attorneys; you’re right it is a low hourly wage for a counselor. Nor am I criticizing the individual contract awarded to Mr. Serata. What I am criticizing here is the bigger picture of “business as usual” when it come to attorney contracting (incredible amounts of money when you add up all the contracts) when others are being asked to sacrifice. What’s lame Gary is to try and make this a discussion simply on a single contract, such as the one awarded to Mr. Serata. This divide and conquer tactic is again diversionary. Look at the small picture (a single uneventful contract) and there is no reason to be alarmed. However, all these small pictures (contracts) add up to a terrible big picture that is killing us. I think it’s called death by a thousand (legal size paper) cuts.

  11. WuLi says:

    I’m happy that Mr. Serata chimed in, it is an honor. And, I am pleased that he, as a lawyer that would likely be negatively impacted by such a move, approves of the concept of a County Legal Department.

    A move such as that would take the politics out of hiring law firms – it seems Lou loves to push quite a bit of money to Camden law firms and even to Hudson County!

    Such a move would also, by most educated reports, cut the legal expenditures of the county in half. And – the county would be paying lawyers for a days work rather than paying $125 for a 10 minute phone call. The hourly rate is for any work up to an hour – even if that work is 2 minutes.

    B-Gary, I don’t see too many lawyers driving Hyundais. They aren’t losing their houses. So boo-hoo is the profession has had to tighten their belts a little – everyone else in this country has.

  12. Samuel J. Serata says:

    None of the commentators seems to understand the business end of the legal profession. As a public employed lawyer, I bill for time expended with a minimun of one-tenth of an hour, which is the way most lawyers I know bill.

    Secondly, an open ended contract provides no minimum or maximum amount because in the case of most legal representation on a time basis neither the client nor the attorney can tell how much time will be spent. Good lawyers can usually get the job done in less time thus saving the client money and aggravation. Sometimes the other side is difficult and that leads to additional expense.

    Thirdly, the hourly rate may seem high to a wage earner, but don’t overlook overhead: the costs of doing business like telephone; electricity; supplies; employees and their attendant “incidental costs, such as social security, Workers Compensation, vacation and sick time, etc; equipment; books and internet access; continuing education; and on and on – about $85.00 an hour.

  13. jobba says:

    Sam, don’t confuse Wuli with the facts. You are a lawyer so you are to be reviled. End of story.

    PS: Wuli, maybe you should take a census of Lawyer cars. I heard Lou has the information but is keeping it in a secret location.

  14. Guess-Who says:

    jobba:
    Which computer does LOU keep the Census of Lawyer Cars information on (His or the County’s or was IT someone else)?

    Is IT the same one he kept his NACo Records on,
    Do U know the Facts about IT or Don’t U?

    If so he might have a HARD time Booting that Computer UP;
    IF the Story is TRUE that someone said to me this week.

    N.A.C.o. = $81,000.00 for WHAT for Who or Whom?

    Is Lou Talking about the FACTS as too his previous NACo Campaign & the Contributions from some LUCKY donors that knew he could use the Money in the form of a DONATION towards his 2nd Vice President Candidacy of a Non-Profit Org?

    Hey Lou, was that u in B.V.Twp yesterday, If NOT he sure could have passed for your stunt double.

    ——————————————–
    Checks and Balance make the County a Better Place

  15. Bridgeton Gary says:

    If a lawyer drives a $30,000.00 Mercedes are they worse than a teacher driving a $45,000.00 Escalade? Inquiring minds want to know.

  16. Mall Ninja says:

    The sacrifice is staggering! $125 an hour. You guys make Mother Theresa look like a profiteer! Subtract all those nasty costs and it’s a mere $85 an hour. The horror! How do you feed your family? When did $125 hour become big bucks? Seriously? Where was I when it became chump change?

    “Class warfare. Everybody is equal.” No Bridgeton Gary, I am not a Democrat. I believe everyone is a commodity and what you invest in yourself dictates your financial worth.

    You cry about class warfare. Yet you attack teachers and government workers. You are embracing the new clarion call of the government worker vs the private worker. Is that not a brand of class warfare? Or because it is popular it’s OK?

    Open ended contracts attract criticism from the uninitiated? Are you really going to suggest such things are not open for abuse and have never been abused? Are you suggesting lawyers are that ethical? One, from Vineland, was missing upon her sentencing for distribution recently? And no she was not distributing legal advice for $125 an hour! So…. are they all ethical? Or was her “sacrifice” of $125 too much and she had to pick up a side job?

    “It’s not surprising that a Mall Ninja considers their time worth the same as a professional.” That hurts. Are you suggesting my time stalking evil doers at the area malls is not a profession? I am hell with a Bo staff and nunchuck or as we call them, Nunchaku!

  17. Bridgeton Gary says:

    The claim that certain posters are Magazzu Apologists, me included is par for the course. After reading Mall Ninga I am certain that class warfare is really at the heart of some of the MW faithful. Placing every profession in a category compared with your own is juvenile. If I was a lawyer I would say “those who can do, those who can’t, teach”. If I was a teacher I would say “we earned it, it;’s a hard job, why don’t you try it some time” All bull in the total. MW lives on the emotion of the moment and that usually boils down to who is earning the money. Mall Ninga says people are worth what they invest (except if they know Lou). What Mall Ninga refuses to admit is that they are righteous about their own worth and ignorant about what others are worth. Do you think if someone gave you an extra 4 million dollars you would be able to hit like Jason Werth or if you got 10 million like Ryan Howard? You probably do. We all know the truth. Why do you think certain engineers get bigger projects? Do they donate? sure, but there is a difference whether you want to admit it or not. That’s why when govt workers cry and complain I don’t buy it. It’s not the whole problem or the whole solution but giving these people a reality check is a step in the right direction. Did you see the Press today? How many cops fired (not one under 58K) how many earning over 100k forced to give up 9-11K?, How many demoted from Sargent to patrolman? Wake up MW. Blind hatred of Lou doesn’t make your misguided personal feelings right. And yes If Mall ninga had bow staff skills I would have more respect.

  18. Mall Ninja says:

    “Do they donate? Sure…”. So pay to play is OK? What if I am the little engine that could, but because I don’t have the money it goes to the company that paid off… er paid to play the county freeloaders.

    You suggest class warfare. “But giving these people a reality check is a step in the right direction…”. Got it. Lawyers need not worry about the economy; everyone else needs to tighten up. Because… they went to law school? So that’s the barometer? Law school… gotcha!

    I do have mad Bo staff skills…

    And for the record a little HGH, steriods, and some time in the cage and I will walk circles around Werth and Howard.

  19. Bridgeton Gary says:

    What a loser. Give it a rest.

  20. Guess-Who says:

    Blah Blah Blah b-Gary!

    This & That is WHY that & this only amounts to This & That.

    THINK about IT b-Gary!

    ————————————————-
    Checks and Balance make the County a Better Place

  21. Mall Ninja says:

    I am so disappointed in you Bridgeton “Gary”. I make a few wity comments; which you clearly could not handle and you resort to calling me, “a loser”? Wow!?

    I thought you might have been capable of a good debate, but you resorted to name calling WAY too early in the game. My 9 year old niece is a more capable adversary. I guess I have to stick with debating the kid that makes the icing that sits on top of the Cinnabon?!

    But it’s good to see you flash your Democrat credentials… when in doubt call ’em names… racist, sexist, loser…. What’s next fat? I know perhaps a crack at my mom? Or is that too advanced? Man this is tough thinking like a tween!

    Perhaps you should be blogging on Sesame Street.com. I’ll call ahead and tell them to take it easy on you, Sport!

    Don’t sweat the power of the Bo staff!

  22. Bridgeton Gary says:

    Ninga, You’re right. I have been bested by your superior skills. All of you comments were so witty that I couldn’t think of a comeback. I am so beat up I can hardly walk.

    Ninga , really, there is an antidote for what ails you. Put the computer down and turn off the blackberry. Turn off the TV and hide the I Pod. Go outside and look at the sky, preferably at night and imagine you are not the center of the universe. When you come out of your coma take a deep breath and imagine that Lou isn’t the center of the universe either. Once you have made that leap, and I do mean leap because it will take some honesty on your part, you can start relating to the people around you again. Maybe you can even entertain new ideas. Good luck.

  23. Bridgeton Gary says:

    PS: Ninga, you aren’t the Little Engine That Could, you are the little engine that Couldn’t. That’s why you are here. We all feel the pain only some of us get over it and move on. You can do it too.

  24. Mall Ninja says:

    I know somewhere in what you said is a point, but…. I ‘ll have to get my niece to read it.

    But I know a good retort… you are a loser, right? that one works? Or is that only good for lawyers to use?

  25. Mall Ninja says:

    upon further review, I thought I was discussing lawyers… yup, I just reviewed my previous posts in this section and I can’t find anything about Lou? I thought I was addressing my issues over lawyers crying the blues over $125? Or “part time” at $66 grand. While “everyone” else, excluding the freeloaders, must shoulder the burden of these financial times.

    I thought it was a bit hypocritical to cry the blues over that kind of money when others are losing their jobs. You set me straight though; lawyers don’t count. They are above such things.

    It’s kind of why I have no sympathy for professional athletes that hold out because 5, 10 15 or 20 mil is just not enough. And billionare owners cry the blues over “only” making a few million or billion.

    Do you really need to defend Lou when he is not being questioned?

    So… get your head out of your rectum, your lips off Lou’s butt, go get a clue, preferably sooner rather than later, imagine you are not a tool (This one may take time, but don’t give up). Change your pad. When you realize you are a part of the problem and not a part of the solution. And you have made the leap of faith that you are not responsible for Lou’s PR (that’s for the DJ and Bridgeton Snews). You can start relating to people who differ from your skewered view. Maybe, just maybe, you can listen to views other than yours without the cloud of arrogance that drips off your ever post.

    I would address the center of the universe comment but I fail to see your point? This may be a bit of projection… look that up if your confused. I’ll wait.

    Or every time you disagree with someone call them a loser… this may show your true colors.

    WULI, you mat have to get a dictionary of some sort on here BG may be a while….

  26. Bridgeton Gary says:

    your comments are so very pathetic. No more soup for you.

  27. Mall Ninja says:

    It’s all perspective. I enjoyed your immediate dismissal and insults. You’re not too hard to read.

    I may be a loser with pathetic comments in your small world view, but I didn’t have to resort to insults. As a matter of fact I efforted to make the banter light by interjecting humor about my nunchucks and Bo Staff skills.

    P.S. Stopping short is my move!

    I too know of the Seinfeld!

  28. Bridgeton Gary says:

    LIGHTEN UP DUDE. Just messing with you.

  29. Mall Ninja says:

    Seriously? Lighten up? I make a reference to Seinfeld to match your reference.

    All joking aside, which is 90 percent of my post, do you even read my posts?

  30. Bridgeton Gary says:

    not really.

  31. Mall Ninja says:

    Nice…

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