Since I started Thompson Appeals, I have found that some clients are confused about why I’m doing what I’m doing. I provide a full range of appellate services geared toward low-income and middle-income clients in Utah. To do this effectively, I usually charge a rate that is much lower than the standard rate. To the skeptic who’s wondering what I’m getting out of it, let me explain.
I spent the last year clerking at the Utah Court of Appeals. When I say I was a clerk, people often think that I was a clerk in the sense of the movie Clerks. Clerking for a court, however, is much more like being an assistant for a judge. Based on the judge’s guidance, you get to write the first draft of the opinions. You also get to read a lot of briefs and see a lot of cases move through the appellate process.
Doing this, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a wide range in the quality of representation. If the clients were indigent, they could often get help from Utah Legal Services or from the Legal Defender Association, both of which have a lot of experience and do a consistently good job representing their clients on appeal. If the clients were wealthy, they could afford top-tier appellate representation. Many of the clients in the middle, however, were braving the appellate courts without an attorney who understood the appeals process or without an attorney at all.
To put it in the cold, hard terms of American capitalism, I saw an underserved demographic and decided to make that my niche in the marketplace. My rate is reduced to make it accessible to my target demographic, bit it’s still enough to cover my overhead and make a reasonable profit. I think that providing quality appellate services at an affordable rate is an inevitable market disruption, and I want to be ahead of the curve.
To put it in the bleeding-heart terms of American idealism, I saw an underserved population that was not always getting the justice it deserved. I wanted to help make the legal system more just, and I wanted to help people who didn’t have any other options.
I also love working with important legal issues. I love nerding out about the minutia of the law and obsessing over the subtleties of statutory language.
So, what’s in it for me? I get to establish a niche in a competitive marketplace. I get to help people. And I get to work with important legal issues. In return, my clients get quality appellate services at an affordable rate. Sounds like a good deal to me.