1. DO I REALLY NEED AN ATTORNEY?
2. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES of TYPICAL LEGAL FEES?
3. DO YOU OFFER FREE or DISCOUNTED INITIAL CONSULTATIONS?
4. WHAT IS INVOLVED IN AN INITIAL LEGAL CONSULTATION?
5. HOW LONG DOES AN INITIAL CONSULTATION TAKE?
6. WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO MY FIRST APPOINTMENT?
Serious Injury and Death Matters
Business or Contract Matters
Probate – Estate Planning
Real Estate Matters
7. WILL I HAVE TO GO TO COURT?
Perhaps not. Without seeing exactly what you are dealing with, we can't be sure. If we think you can handle it yourself, we'll tell you. If you want, we likely can help you to more clearly see other less obvious issues that you will need to address.
Are you able to locate the various laws that apply to your situation? While you may have a copy of a document from someone else that was prepared for a situation similar to yours - does it really address your needs? If you are not sure that you understand it, would you be better off knowing what it really means?
We can offer guidance as to the different options that you may have and even how best to approach the matter to increase your likelihood of success.
Do you do all the repairs on your car, computer, or diagnose and treat your health issues? Likely not. While you may be comfortable handling some of your more basic legal needs, perhaps guidance or assistance from a capable attorney is just what you do need to save you money.
If you can benefit from good legal counsel and guidance, we will let you know. We can also show you how to get the best results the facts of your situation allow taking into consideration the costs to you.
Still want to do it yourself? It's your decision. Decide wisely.
Sometimes, you get what you pay for. Other times you pay far more than the value you receive. Know what you are getting into. Have your information and documents organized to save time and money.
Flat and Capped Fees are utilized for matters that are routine and that do not require special attention. There is one fee no matter how simple or complicated the legal matter is. Examples may include providing a basic contract, preparing simple will or power of attorney. The flat fee is used by many attorneys in criminal defense matters.
Advantages to you: Your legal fee is fixed.
Disadvantages to you: You are often limited to a basic legal service. Where complications are encountered, your revised objectives may go unaddressed without revising your budget as well.
Considerations: If you ask what is the most that legal representation might cost you, the answer may be your ‘Flat or Capped Fee’. Like anyone bidding on a job or project, they will bid high enough to cover all foreseeable expenses and the desired profit. If an attorney agreed to handle a matter over which he has limited control, there may be a tendency to put less effort into the work or some matters may not be handled appropriately to save time. For example, an attorney may quote a flat fee for handling a particular criminal charge while expecting to negotiate a plea taking three hours and thereby avoid a trial by jury that would take three days or 30 hours. If the plea negotiations fail and a jury trial is necessary the attorney may work ten times the hours for the same money. There is not a lot of motivation to do a good job. You should hope your attorney is ethical and that he will complete the job well though he may not have been good at estimating.
Payment: Advance payment is required
Hourly Fees are the most common form of legal fee. A specified rate of pay for each hour worked. The longer it takes, the greater the fee. These fees are utilized on matters where the attorney has limited control on how long it may take to accomplish your objectives.
Advantages to you: The better organized you are the lower fees you incur. If your legal matter is less complicated, your fees are less. You only pay for the services you need.
Disadvantage to you: The more difficult your adversary or the more complex your legal matter is - the more it can cost you to accomplish your objectives.
Considerations: Know in advance how much you are willing to spend if necessary. Have a budget. Determine in advance whether the attorney you are considering reasonably expects to be able to accomplish your objectives within your budgetary constraints. If not, you may need to adjust your objectives or find a less expensive (perhaps less experienced attorney). Payment: Typically a retainer is required payable in advance, all or part of which may be non-refundable and part of which may be fully refundable.
Reduced Flat and Capped Fees are utilized in a few areas of law where clients would find it cost-prohibitive to pay an attorney on an hourly basis, particularly where the amount in dispute is modest, and in compelling circumstances, where the attorney has sufficient advance notice to adequately prepare and still cover our other legal responsibilities.
Advantages to you: You get the same representation at a reduced rate – one you can better afford.
Disadvantage to you: Most attorneys are not in a position to provide reduced flat or capped fees and finding an attorney in a position to do so may be difficult.
Payment: Advance payment is required for reduced flat and capped fees.
Contingency Fees consist of a percentage of the amount recovered for the client. The client pays no fee if there is no recovery. However, the client is responsible for the costs (other than legal fees) of preparing for, bringing and maintaining such a legal claim. Contingency fees are typically utilized in cases that involve claims for loss of life or bodily function such as vehicle wrecks, dangerous business/residential locations, wrongful termination of employment, qui tam (whistle blower actions), workers compensation, social security, veteran’s benefits and other similar actions.
Advantages to you: You can get excellent legal representation and owe no legal fees if the efforts are unsuccessful. You pay only a pre-determined percentage of what is recovered as your legal fee. If there is no recovery, you pay no legal fee. Your attorney works on an incentive basis – the more your attorney recovers for you, the more your attorney gets.
Disadvantage to you: If the matter is concluded to your satisfaction without a lot of time and effort on the part of your attorney, your fee is the same percentage as if your attorney took your case though a jury trial.
Payment: Payment is made at the conclusion of the case when the money awarded or the amount of the settlement is paid.
Hybrid Fees are a special blend of two or more of the types of fees listed above. Some attorneys are willing, in some instances to provide hybrid fees, where they charge a specified hourly rate and a reduced contingent fee for certain types of matters. This is less common in that both attorneys and clients don’t find this to be as desirable.
Advantages to you: Your out of pocket payment of legal fees are reduced.
Disadvantage to you: You share in the risk of no recovery.
Payment: Advance payment up to a certain stage in litigation is required for hybrid fees.
Pro Bono representation may be provided where the client, who otherwise would pay an hourly or flat rate is unable to pay for needed legal services. Many attorneys provide legal services on a pro bono basis. However, because of the need for legal representation of persons who cannot afford it, most attorneys are very selective about what matters and what clients they will represent on a pro bono basis. Some attorneys work on a pro bono basis for charitable organizations.
Advantages to you: You get legal services without having to pay for them.
Disadvantage to you: You may get what you pay for.
Payment: No payment required.
A. Free initial consultations? Yes. Where your legal matter involves death, or serious physical, psychological, or personal injury caused or suspected to have been caused by negligence, we do not charge legal fees for the consultation.
If we agree to represent you, a written contract will be discussed. If you want us to represent you, we will both need to agree upon the terms of representation, including the amount of legal fees and how they are to be paid.
B. Discounted initial consultations? Yes. We do provide a discounted initial consultation for consultations in business, probate, property, criminal and other matters that do not involve death, or serious physical, psychological, or personal injury caused or suspected to have been caused by negligence.
This discounted initial consultation allows you to present your legal matter to an attorney and allows the attorney to review your information and to provide you with practical guidance at a significant discount. Then you will better understand what is involved in your legal matter and can better handle it yourself, leave it alone, or arrange for further legal representation.
When you make an appointment and come in for an initial consultation, you are asked to provide some basic information regarding your situation and objectives. You will then meet with an attorney.
Either the attorney will begin by asking you some key questions to better enable him to understand your situation and your objectives or, he may suggest that you ask questions of concern. Based upon the facts you provide by way of your explanation or documents you provide, the attorney will undertake to identify laws that apply to your situation. This is important because the laws affect what may or may not be possible for you to accomplish or they may affect the difficulty that is likely to be confronted in seeking to accomplish your objectives. You may choose to more clearly define your objectives.
Based upon the facts presented and the law, the attorney will work with you to identify possible strategies or plans for the accomplishment of your objectives. Strategies may vary depending upon your budget. Smaller budgets necessarily limit what can be done to accomplish your objectives. Regardless of the size of your budget, good business sense requires that efforts be made to limit spending as you undertake to accomplish your goals.
In some situations, you may be able to accomplish you objectives without further assistance from an attorney.
If you need an attorney to assist you in accomplishing your objectives, we can arrange to assist you to the extent that you desire. It is important to remember - it is your case (legal matter). We work with you not for you to guide or assist you in the accomplishment of your objectives.
How long depends upon several factors such as:
The attorney you meet with will be in a better position to provide you with sound advice and good guidance if he understands what you are dealing with, what the facts are and has the information necessary to see what you are talking about.
Documents are more likely to be accurate and are therefore more heavily relied upon by the courts in making decisions in issues where conflict is present.
Depending upon the type of legal matter for which you seek assistance, you should assemble and arrange to bring with you the following:
SERIOUS INJURY & DEATH Matters
Perhaps not - unless you have been properly served with a subpoena.
However, if you are concerned about having to go to court because of a dispute between you and someone else, you may not have to go to court. Each case is different.
Most legal matters are handled without a lawsuit ever being filed. Even when it is appropriate to file a lawsuit, most cases are settled without the case ever going to trial. In some situations where a lawsuit was filed, your physical presence in court may be required, though you may not have to testify or be questioned by a different lawyer.
In other cases, it may be necessary for you to be sworn as a witness to explain what you want and how you are entitled to what you are asking for. Regardless of whether you have to go to court, we can guide you and help you to understand the process.
When you understand what is going on and why things work the way they do, you will be more comfortable. We will help you to understand how to truthfully present your information so that you will be a more effective witness in your case should that be necessary.