As a self-professed foodie, I always relate everything in life to food. As far-fetched as it sounds, the per-diem business can be compared to food.
What’s the key to a quality meal? Ingredients. Good ingredients. Fresh ingredients. And the TLC involved in making the meal – by an experienced and passionate chef who enjoys and savors every minute of what they’re doing. Take the restaurant Rao’s, for example. Rao’s has been around since 1896 in a teeny space in Harlem having only approximately 10 tables. The New York Post describes the restaurant as “one of the hardest places to get into in the city.” Why is that? It’s because of the quality and the reputation the restaurant has enjoyed for over 100 years. The same can be said for the per diem business and the firms and attorneys who support it. Most want and expect results. Quality results. For those who just want a warm body to cover an appearance – well, I guess they can go dine and wipe the grease off their chin at a fast food chain.
Quality work comes from the top. My model is that just because I may not be personally covering an assignment in another county that my careful review and preparation (ingredients) and choice of sous chef in another county will still make for a delicious quality meal and my client will be satisfied.
My grandfather once said “Dani, like Caesar’s wife, you always want to be above reproach.” His words forever remain with me as I practice law. I never take an assignment I can’t handle and I never assign an assignment that I don’t understand because if I can’t make heads or tails of it I cannot expect someone who is covering it for me to do so. I’m never afraid of asking questions. More is more when you do what we do as per diems. Knowledge is power and the worst thing is when a judge asks you a question and you have to say “I don’t know, I’m just covering.” Judges don’t want to hear that – it’s like nails on a chalkboard to them. In the rare chance that happens to me, my answer is “Your Honor, may we please second call the case so I may obtain that information?” Most judges appreciate the candor and oblige.
When one takes on a per diem assignment it’s not just an “assignment” – you are a member of the bar and the face of the firm that day. I take my work seriously and consider it a privilege to represent the clients I do. And they appreciate me. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
The word “per diem” in Latin literally means “per day” or “for each day” and the term per diem, in my opinion, really dilutes and minimizes the services we perform as attorneys. We are experienced attorneys in a specialized service industry to assist other attorneys and firms on a daily basis for their needs both in and out of court. Being familiar with the local court rules and practices of the court system gives us the advantage that others will lack. Would you ever travel to a foreign country for the first time without either a tour guide or at the very least a Fodor’s or Frommer’s travel guide book, perhaps a Rosetta Stone/language guide as well? Probably not.
Even if attorneys happen to be familiar with the local court rules as sometimes they may cover their own cases without use of a per diem, they still depend on us. Additionally, many attorney clients know we have an arms length relationship with their client and are not emotionally connected to the case. This enables us to conduct their business more quickly, efficiently and amicably. Per diems make things run like a “well-oiled” machine. Firms still use and should use per diem services because in the long run it will save them time, money and unnecessary stress. As we all know, time is money.
The per diem industry can be said to be Darwinian – survival of the fittest. Many per diem attorneys think of their job as just that, a job. For me it’s a specialized profession that is only getting bigger by top feeders. Like Rao’s mass-producing their sauce and specialty products to supermarkets, the sweet spot is to do so without sacrificing quality. With Have U Covered, LLC that’s exactly what you’ll get. On that note, Bon appetit!
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