Asked and Answered!
“Asked and Answered!” is our form of “Frequently Asked Questions” (“FAQ”) because during trials and depositions it is a common objection to a question that has already been asked. If you didn’t know that, there’s a good chance you are not a licensed attorney and thus this website is not for you.
Okay, first some terminology as it is used on Court House Regular.
“Appearance” – This is the “Assignment” (a term used interchangeably with “Appearance”) to appear in court or otherwise, such as at a deposition, on behalf of a law firm that cannot, or will not, make the appearance themselves.
In some cases, law firms from another jurisdiction may need someone in a particular jurisdiction to not only appear, but to file the case under their own name, as that law firm is not licensed in that jurisdiction. This is called being “Local Counsel.”
“Appearance Attorney” – This is someone who appears on behalf of a law firm. That’s because the law firm either could not send an attorney to appear, or just didn’t want to lose the day waiting for a brief appearance before a judge.
These attorneys are also known as “Step-up” or “Coverage” attorneys. Sometimes they are called "Per Diem", although that term also covers attorneys hired for transactional and drafting work. This terminology applies only to attorneys licensed to practice in the jurisdiction that the appearance occurs in.
“Law firm” - This is who places the assignment. A subscriber can be both a law firm and an appearance attorney. For the purposes of this website, we will use “law firm” to mean the people who place assignments and “appearance attorney” to mean those who accept the assignment.
Insofar as placing an assignment for local counsel, the law firm does not need to be licensed in that jurisdiction. However, the law firm must be licensed in at least one U.S. jurisdiction per the terms and conditions of this website.
“Courthouse” – This is a building that court takes place in. These buildings can also be known as a “Court House.”
We mean this term to cover not just formal courthouses, like the typical County Courthouse, but any building that court takes place in such as town halls, storefronts and jails. In Pittsburgh there is a court in a garage!
The thrust of this website is working on listing all trial courthouses in the United States as that is where the lion’s share of appearance work is. Here and there we have listed appellate courts, especially if they are in the same building as a trial court. Of course, some trial courts have inherent appellate jurisdiction over inferior courts.
“Outlying Courthouses” – This is a kind of courthouse that, generally speaking, is a minor court (e.g. “municipal”) that does not share a building with another court, especially not one that is a court of general jurisdiction. In an effort to keep the entries to a manageable size, these are often grouped together.
Now to some questions;
Are the assignments in civil or criminal court?
Both, as well as courts that may not belong in either category such as Probate in some jurisdictions.
How do I get paid?
You bill the law firm that gave you the assignment. You are your own business – you do not work through us.
How much can I make?
We are aware of an appearance attorney who made $5,000 during a slow week. That is not likely to happen to you (although great if it does!)
If you average $60 per assignment and average four assignments each business day during a five day week, that is a $1,200 week - a much more reasonable goal.
Most appearance attorneys either want to work part-time (e.g., a stay-at-home parent) or need some additional income while they try to find and build a niche. In either case, this allows flexibility as most appearance work is finished by noon or one o’clock.
How do law firms find appearance attorneys?
Traditionally, before Court House Regular, either appearance attorneys contacted law firms and asked for assignments, or more often got work through “appearance brokers.”
What is an appearance broker?
These are businesses that find law firms an appearance attorney to make the appearance. They charge law firms a premium often twice over or more what the appearance attorney makes to send that appearance attorney to the assignment.
How does Court House Regular differ?
Court House Regular allows law firms to search for appearance attorneys without intermediaries.
This gets rid of the need for an appearance broker. That eliminates the need for the broker’s premium and the firm pays less while the appearance attorney makes more. In addition, it eliminates a level of potential confusion.
Win-Win-Lose for the law firm, appearance attorney and the appearance broker respectively.
Can I sign up with Court House Regular as well as various appearance brokers?
Yes. Even though you might get paid less for an individual assignment, at least you get paid.
How much does it cost to register with Court House Regular?
It is free for both law firms and appearance brokers.
It’s really free?
Yes. It will always be free for law firms that only place assignments. For the foreseeable future, we will offer free subscriptions, even if we offer a paid subscription alongside those - the paid subscriptions will get a couple of extra benefits of course. Note - you never have to present any payment information to sign up for free subscriptions. No credit card, no debit card, no payment information at all.
Can I take a tour of the website without signing up?
No. We are working to keep spambots, hackers and non-lawyers away from the website. Allowing tours is one way they get in.
How many jurisdictions do you have court houses listed for?
We have listed virtually all courthouses in about a thousand jurisdictions including virtually all counties with a population greater than 100,000. Among those are listings for the 500 largest counties and county equivalents including the four most populous counties in each State. Also, a bunch of others that were listed for various reasons including almost all court houses in the States of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawai’i, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming.
We are still working on new listings (and always will – it is a big country out there!), but have better than two-thirds of the U.S. population covered as far as jurisdictions of the listed courthouses so far.
We also have virtually all the federal courthouses (Bankruptcy and District) listed as well as territorial courts and D.C. We have added all EOIR locations and the main ODAR locations.
Within these courthouses, we are working on listing individual courts and their respective components (e.g. “parts,” “divisions,” etc.)
You don’t have listings for the County/Court House/Court/Division that I want to appear in. Can it be added?
No problem. Register and write us, telling what you would like to be added. If it exists, we will put it on the website.
The website doesn’t have much in the way of subscribers at this point. Why should I sign up?
The more subscribers the website gets, the more useful it will be to both law firms and appearance attorneys. So, by signing up, the likelihood of the website possibly being useful to you goes up. Look up "Metcalfe's law."
It will take you maybe five minutes of your time to register.
Also, when a law firm searches for an appearance attorney, the earlier the subscriber, the higher in the search results. Once we have a critical mass of subscribers, the ones that have been with us the longest will be the most likely to be contacted as they will be at the top of the list.
I already have a pretty good appearance practice. Is there any reason for me to sign up?
Yes, because there could be a law firm that is unaware of your practice. They will search and not find you. They may find a competitor, though.
Also – as noted above - when a law firm searches for an appearance attorney, the earlier the subscriber, the higher in the search results.
Wow. Your website is really slow….
Yeah. Working on that. Be patient as it loads – takes ten to fifteen seconds at times.
As written above, a main purpose of this website is leaning how to build them – and site speed seems to be a most difficult lesson. Lessons have been learned so far through the "fail forward" model.