As anyone who has taken a fairly close review of my work knows, I look for, find, and seek to find harmony. This includes harmony in patterns. There is one pattern which has emerged so many times that I have decided to give it a name – the title of this post – Boundary Disputes’: “Three Multitudes of Ten Times Five.”
What are the “Three Multitudes of Ten Times Five” exactly? They are respectively $500; $5,000; and $50,000.
- $500. After having read and spread-sheeted the majority of Washington State’s adverse possession cases, this is about what it costs for me to render an opinion as to the outcome of a case with an 80% likelihood of success. To do this, I seek to speak with people about the facts. Barring new information, this is a great way to get a sense of your chances should your matter go to trial.
- $5,000. One magnitude higher is roughly the amount of money most people are willing to pay to enforce their rights when their neighbor is seeking to railroad them into succumbing to a meritless claim. However …
- $50,000. A mere magnitude higer is what it generally will cost – at least in King County – to litigate a boundary dispute all the way to trial.
[Notably, this doesn’t even begin to speak to cases which after trial are later appealed in order to secure one’s boundary and with it (purported) justice which in some case may start to approach the next multiple – $500,00.]
There is a lot of meaning to unpack here.
First, If you think you may have a shot at winning, but are unsure and speak to me, I’ll charge you $500 $450 to go over your case merits for an hour and if not in your favor you will likely save $45,000.
This is in specific contrast to going to an attorney – even some who know real property law – who will give you a “free consultation” and then seek to convince you that they should be the one to hold your hand as you embark on your legal course.
DON’T BELIEVE IT! YOU ARE ALLOWING THEM TO PUT THEIR OTHER HAND IN YOUR POCKET AND ARE TAKING (OR PERHAPS MORE APTLY SHAKING YOU DOWN) FOR A “TRY ALL.”
Essentially you are giving them your money, time, and angst, so that they can take a gamble for you. Not a smart play!
Second, if the merits are favorable, we will figure out a way or perhaps options to move forward. In doing so, one of the things that I try to keep in mind is how will the other side react if they know I am backing you up.
In many cases it is best to have the knowledge from your lawyer as counselor instead of representing that you have “lawyer-ed up.” Never forget that lawyers have egos too and they may be bigger than your own.
Regardless, we will do our best to resolve the battle without resort to court in an attempt to keep expenses less than $5,000.
Third, if you have the merits – which explicitly means that your originally presented facts have held consistent AND they are not contradicted by the opposing parties facts – and you have an obstinate, belligerent neighbor who is unwilling to recognize that he or she must yield, you may then want to consider litigation.
Because of legislation – for which I was the only practicing real property attorney who testified at both the Washington House and Senate Judiciary committee – RCW 7.28.083, you now have a choice to move forward with your claim and hope that the judge will both properly award you your land AND provide you with reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
So, moving forward with litigation is then a decision you must make. In the end you won’t have a good relationship with your neighbor, a truth that must be recognized. But guess what, there is one other insight that I have found in all this. Just like in the animal kingdom when two ferocious beasts go at it over land, the victor roars and the vanquished drops tail and moves away!
Overall, the choice is simple:
Do you want to have a lawyer who gives you a “free consultation” which serves to sell you on taking you straight to the highest multitude – a risk of $50,000 – and likely then work down the “Three Multitudes of Ten Times Five?”
Do you want a lawyer who will walk with you up the “Three Multitudes of Ten Times Five?”