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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New York Electrician Will Leave Light on for Divorce Attorney

By: Peter J. Lamont, Esq. | UTLRadio.com
October 20, 2015

Take a walk around the Staten Island and Brooklyn Courthouses and you will find hundreds of flyers posted on sign posts, parking meters and in other prominent places all seeking one thing, a qualified divorce attorney willing to barter services with a licensed electrician. Anthony Davino, a 49-year-old electrician, licensed in New York and New Jersey, has taken to the streets in the hopes of finding an attorney to help him through the remainder of, what has turned out to be, an emotionally and financially draining divorce.

Davino has been without legal representation since his second lawyer quit because Davino was unable to afford the $30,000 fee requested by the attorney for continued representation. According to Nicholas Rizzi (@nickr15), in an article posted on dnainfo.com, Davino said, "I'm pretty much dead in the water. The only thing I have left is my skill, and there's got to be a lawyer who I can barter my services with." (https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151016/st- george/local-electrician-trying-barter-his-services-for-divorce-lawyer)

Reportedly, Davino has been battling his wife through divorce proceedings after he allegedly caught her “cheating”. Davino is reported to have spent over $200,000 on legal fees, alimony and child support as he continues to fight for custody of his 11-year-old daughter and 9-year old son.

While Davino has taken a unique approach to finding representation, this unfortunate scenario is played out daily throughout the country. Every day good people who cannot afford an attorney find themselves mired in legal troubles. While there are times that non-lawyers can do a good job representing themselves, there are so many legal matters that require the assistance of an attorney. For example, small business owners are required by law to be represented by an attorney. It is also extremely difficult to represent yourself in divorce proceedings as they are complicated and extremely emotional.

As an attorney myself, I understand the need to be compensated for your skill, effort and time. However, should greed override compassion? I say, “No.” The unfortunate reality is that some attorneys see clients as a revenue stream only. They charge excessive fees and as quickly as they sign up the client they also terminate representation when the client can no longer pay the bill.

So how can attorneys strike a balance between being fairly compensated for their work and providing quality representation to clients whose pockets may not be that deep? One solution is by providing alternate fee arrangements to certain clients. Alternate fee arrangements can include hybrid billing, where a client pays a flat fee for some services and an hourly fee for others; value or success based fees; and even through bartering agreements.

Many attorneys scoff at the idea of bartering services while others mistakenly believe that bartering is unethical. The reality is that it is not. In a recent ethics opinion, the Connecticut Bar Association Standing Committee on Professional Ethics advised that "lawyers may participate in
a barter exchange program and provide legal services to clients in exchange for receiving barter currency . . . rather than being paid for the services in cash by the client." http://www.thelawforlawyerstoday.com/2015/10/can-lawyers-barter-their-services-ethics- opinion-says-yes-and-it-may-be-a-trend/

The recent Connecticut opinion follows other states’ ethics opinions, including the New York State Bar Association (1994), the Utah State Bar (1997) and the North Carolina State Bar (2010). See also Alabama State Bar Office of General Counsel (2001); Florida Bar (1984, rev. 2011).
So, in the case of Anthony Davino it is possible for an attorney to trade services with him so long as the attorney complies with New York Rules of Professional Conduct. Now he simply needs to find an attorney who needs to have some electrical work done. Hopefully, for Anthony Davino his innovative, yet "old-school" approach pays off. In fact, it already may have as reports suggest that at least one attorney has already contacted Davino. (https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151016/st-george/local-electrician-trying-barter-his- services-for-divorce-lawyer)

Peter J. Lamont, Esq. is a New Jersey Business & Contract attorney and the host of UTLRadio.com, a business and legal podcast and video program. Contact: pl@pjlesq.com. Visit UTLRadio.com for business and legal information.
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