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When to Sue Co-Counsel: Only If It Hurts

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Good lawyers know to tell clients not to sue if it's not worth it -- financially.

Especially those clients who say it's about principal; they better have more dollars than sense.

So the same should apply when an attorney considers suing co-counsel. Don't do it unless you got really hurt -- financially.

Do the Math

Cheryl Maples had to do the math after winning a gay-marriage case. She and her co-counsel Jack Wagoner successfully challenged a gay-marriage ban in Arkansas.

But when it came time to request attorney's fees, everything went sideways. Wagoner said Maples inflated her fees, and she says it cost her about $375,000.

Those are 375,000 fighting words in any jurisdiction, so she sued. She alleges Wagoner, his law firm, and an associate defamed her in pleadings and press interviews.

Not to be a noodge, but a yiddish advocate would say it will be a difficult case. Even Arkansas recognizes the litigation privilege.

Fill In the Blanks

Still, Maples has a chance. According to reports, Wagoner's comments bled out online to say Maples "tried to rape the taxpayer for $345,00" and that she was a "liberal, bloodsucking piece of s---."

You fill in the banks, but you don't have to take them literally to get the factual message. Wagoner meant it, so an opinion defense might not work.

Ultimately, a court will decide whether it was worth it for Maples to sue her co-counsel. Unfortunately for her, a judge already said her efforts in the same-sex case were worth about $30,000 -- not $375,000

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