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Author Topic: Attorney Mathew Higbee emails ELI's Matthew Chan  (Read 1797 times)

Matthew Chan

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Attorney Mathew Higbee emails ELI's Matthew Chan
« on: September 26, 2018, 07:08:02 PM »
Yesterday, I unexpectedly received an unsolicited "thank you" email from Mathew Higbee of Higbee & Associates. It was a cordial and respectful email for the supposed purpose of "thanking" me for giving "benefit of the doubt" of an ELI contributor who shared his story that he was receiving another demand letter over a matter that had been previously settled.

I appreciate your giving Higbee & Associates the benefit of the doubt in your answer to a recent post on your forum about us pursuing a claim that PicRights had previously settled.  We had a clerical error.  Those mistakes very rarely happen, but when they do, we apologize and fix it as fast as possible.

Mathew Higbee further wrote:

Your forum is in a unique place to provide information and to receive feedback from people who are interacting with Higbee & Associates.   You can feel confident in knowing that anyone, including you, can reach out to me directly if you ever have reason to believe that the H&A team has violated any of these key components of its training:

    Treat all people with respect and professionalism, no exceptions
    Never knowingly represent facts that are not true
    Never knowingly misstate the law
    Never do things to increase costs or make resolution less efficient or likely
    Do not pursue a claim without a good faith basis for doing so
    Earnestly try to resolve claims prior to litigating 
    Do not hold grudges or make cases personal

I base my opinions on what I have seen, been reported (or not reported) to me. I am not going to blindly accept his PR statements and talking points however nice and honorable they might sound. Actions speak way louder than words.  I have no love of Higbee & Associates but I can step back and look at the bigger picture.

1. His front line people are low-level clerks. I currently have no reason to believe they are paralegals but they could be law students/paralegal or lawyer-wannabes one day. My guess is they are hourly people who have an incentivized-bonus program in place. In all the communications that have been reported to me, most clerks do appear to exercise restraint, not overstep their boundaries, or engage in outrageous or egregious behavior.  That is smart because things have a way of going viral as has occurred in years past.

2. Despite what a lot of victims think, these demand letter cases are generally not personal. They are simply one of many. The Higbee operation is a full-time operation with a team in place. They don't generally have an axe to grind against anyone starting out. But I do believe they "lean on" some parties more than others over time.

3.  I think Higbee hugely inflates the upfront settlement numbers. Smart, informed, and educated folks know they have to aggressively argue their side and stand their ground if they want a more favorable settlement. Admittedly, there are some parties who get very good settlement amounts due to their personal circumstances and arguments.

4.  I think Higbee has a very liberal interpretation of the value of infringements that he goes after. PDF infringements come to mind. So do images that come through Twitter or other social media feed. Or those dumb Nick Youngson/RM Media $10 images.

5. I don't think he is particular fond of very challenging legal fights. I definitely believe he prefers to settle if he can.  Because litigation can get ugly, time-consuming, and an energy suck. My guess is he can inadvertently drag his clients into a bad public situation if he is not careful. Not all clients are the same. Not all values of images or infringements are the same.

6.  I posted the principles he and his law firm supposedly follows so people can hold him accountable. Sending it to me does very little good if I don't share them. It requires many eyeballs and an extended period of time to assess if those principles are followed. Time will tell.

Mathew Higbee took the time to address a big criticism of how he operates his "national law firm"  from California and rents large numbers of virtual offices throughout the U.S. I wrote what we thought of his network of virtual offices:'national-law-firm'/

He claims in his email to me it is "common practice" with law firms. I don't buy it. Many law firms may rent an executive suite/virtual suite or two or partner with other lawyers/law firms to expand their presence but not to the degree he does it. And they don't say they are a "national law firm". He claims it is to accommodate immigration clients. But I don't see many immigration law firms engaging in such practices.

Let us not forget that the NY Supreme Court informed his law firm that virtual offices are insufficient:

I tend to believe that New York cannot be alone in that opinion that all it takes is to rent a virtual office and they can represent clients in that state, immigration practice or not.

Mathew Higbee has invited me to reach out to him directly for questions I might have. I don't really see that happening anytime soon because I don't encourage people to communicate with me over demand letter matters unless they are paid clients or reporting something notable or noteworthy. I am not his law firm's quality control person. That is his job. It is not my job to tell or inform him how he should operate his law firm. He is a grown man and can live and die by his business decisions.

Last but not least, his signature line includes this:

Serving all of Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Washington.

California Bar License # 241380
Illinois Bar License # 6319929
Michigan Bar License # P73890
Minnesota Bar License # 0388759
Nevada Bar License # 11158
Ohio Bar License # 0094107
Oregon Bar LIcense # 106514
Texas Bar License # 24076924
Utah Bar License # 11133
Washington Bar License # 42755

Admitted in several federal courts in additional states. 

1504 Brookhollow Suite 112
Santa Ana, CA 92705

I have to give the guy credit for having so many bar licenses. The downside to this is that if someone ever wanted to hit him with a state bar complaint, that is a lot of places to have to defend.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 08:08:09 PM by Matthew Chan »
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.


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Re: Attorney Mathew Higbee emails ELI's Matthew Chan
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2018, 10:33:13 AM »
RE: the list of state bar licenses held by Higbee, I note that he claims he serves FL, but there is no bar license listed, and as of 9/29, while I did find a virtual office address in Palm Beach Florida, there is no registration with the State's Dept of Professional Registration that I could find.

Ethan Seven

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Re: Attorney Mathew Higbee emails ELI's Matthew Chan
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2018, 12:05:11 PM »
That list of licenses looks like his personal list.  They have several other associates whose licenses cover other states, such as Florida.  They also occasionally partner on cases with law firms in states where they are not licensed; most federal courts will grant pro hac vice (for this occasion) motions that allow attorneys licensed in other states to handle a case. 
Even if I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer.  Copyright matters can have serious consequences.  If you have assets worth protecting, consult a lawyer who is familiar with copyright law and who can review the facts of your case. If you cannot afford one, call your state or county bar association.


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