I am an avid fan of Grey’s Anatomy and I have followed all of its episodes at least twice in my life time. I have learnt phrases, medical terms, behaviour and ethics that I sometimes feel like I could be a doctor (a quack one though) despite my being a lawyer. I am very sure many watchers of this series feel the same way.One episode that stood out for me was the Upscaling episode where Miranda Bailey who had become the new Medical Chief at the Hospital had to increase sales due to a crisis that had rocked the hospital before her term. She introduced a practice she called ‘upscaling’ and I wasn’t sure if this was a real thing or just fictional.
However, one thing I can promise you is that, the term never left me because I had questions as to whether this upscaling practice was ethical or otherwise.Medically, the practice pretty much involves treating a patient not only for what he/she checked in for but for other possible medical concerns. Let us take for example, a patient with a headache comes in and consults with a general doctor, the patient naturally should be prescribed with some pain medication but then it’s within carefulness or duty of care to also order a blood work, CT Scan and possibly ECG on the same patient. It becomes evident here that this patient with a common headache ends up doing a few more medical tests. The patient is sure there are no bigger complications because in all honesty, a little headache may a symptom of brain hemorrhage or a little pain in the left chest arm be a symptom of a failing heart. The hospital on the other hand smiles to the bank. It is an entirely a win-win situation.
A few days ago, I was feeling a little bit weak and was loosing my appetite, it wasn’t my first rodeo so I knew it had to be the usual malaria, I picked myself up and went to get an over the counter medication that shouldn’t cost more than 1,200 Naira but somehow I ended up leaving the pharmacy with malaria, typhoid, pain relief, multivitamins and de-worming medications.I knew I was being upscaled but rather than loosing my cool especially because of the increased financial implication, I was rather impressed, very much so.
The average legal protection index of a Nigerian should be less than a paltry 10% and this is to put it very generously. Many Nigerians take a reactive approach to legal problems rather than preventive one.So this had me thinking, a law office or legal practitioner may be able to improve their bottom line and at the same time rid Nigeria off the problem of low legal protection and on the wider perspective increase legal inclusion if upscaling becomes a practice adopted by most.
How can this be done?
I happen to have this one client, wealthy man by all standards who never reaches out to me when he has legal issues, he has a Ph.D in Accounting and we know how Accountants especially those in consulting like to sometimes think they can do all of the things a lawyer could do or even better. He would only call me when when he has written and negotiated without any success with his tenants who owe him rent in millions of naira.
For one, he knows I have got certifications in arbitration and negotiation and he also knows that one letter from a lawyer conveys much more seriousness than hundreds from a non lawyer. This is beside the point that most of the letters drafted by non lawyers are usually in-elegant.
Back to the point, my client neither has papers for his house nor do his tenants have tenancy agreements that bind them but I am called in to recover a year’s worth of rent for him. I swing into action and draft my very frank letters and the rest is history. They almost always comply after a few bout of reluctance and arrogance. I get paid. But, I could have gone ahead to diagnose my client and pegged his legal protection at ‘critical level’, the Zaphorizhiza kind. I could have gone ahead to draft a deed of assignment, sought permission to process a building permit and drafted a tenancy agreement for all of his tenants and sent him the invoice. I get paid and my client gets extra protection and reassured.
Another legal scenario that upscaling could apply is if you have got to any point in time bail your client’s ward from law enforcement custody for whatever reason especially financial improprieties, it behoves on you to go ahead and start the process of drafting your client’s Will or putting a codicil in place. This may sound a little bit judgemental but kids like that almost always take off with their parent’s had earned properties or even sell them. I have seen one too many of this particular reality.
Law leaves no room for sentiments. Lawyers have to face the facts, anticipate actions and inactions and turn them into opportunities for financial prosperity.
Upscaling isn’t eldorado though, I have many issues with this practice; some ethical, others professional, financial risk and moral turpitude.I shall discuss all of these in the concluding part of this piece.
To be continued….