How will I be kept informed of my case?
We understand the importance of communication and transparency between attorney and client. Although we would like to talk to you weekly by telephone, that would be neither practical nor productive. Legal matters have a way of stretching out over long periods of time. To you, it may often seem like ages have gone by without activity, however, in fact, much behind-the-scenes work is being completed so that on the day your matter is ready, nothing will be overlooked. In order to keep the cost of legal services down while maximizing communications, we will strive to keep you informed when anything important happens and to respond to your questions in a reasonable time. In addition, we will inform you when your presence is required, either in our office or in court.
What do I do when I have a question?
We are interested in your questions and we want you to ask them. Sometimes we are required to be out of the office, even for days at a time. When in the office, we meet with clients, complete research, review documents, or prepare contracts, briefs or pleadings. For the most efficient and quickest response please contact one of our legal assistants, as they have a working knowledge of all aspects of your case. If the assistant cannot answer your question, every attempt will be made get the answer for you, or arrange to have your attorney contact you as quickly as possible as we understand your concerns and issues. Above all, leave a message so we know your concern in advance. If you do that, we will always try to get an answer back to you even if your attorney is out of the office when you call.
What will the legal service cost?
You are entitled to know, to the extent that we can reasonably inform you at your first visit, what your fee will be. We encourage a frank, open discussion about our fees with each client at the time of the first interview.
Lawyers are paid under various fee arrangements.
On an hourly fee basis, fees are based on an hourly rate for services rendered. A detailed, itemized bill will be given to you showing all work done on your case. This explanation may come monthly or at the end of your case, whichever way you choose to be billed. Unless otherwise agreed, the hourly fee basis will be the presumed fee arrangement.
On a flat fee basis, your legal fee is a stated sum for agreed upon services. No accounting will be made.
On a contingency fee basis, your legal fees will be based on the amount of recovery we get for you; no recovery, no fee. You may have the option of choosing this plan in lieu of hourly charges. Not all cases qualify for the contingency basis; we will tell you if yours does. In either case, we will prepare for you an employment agreement setting forth the fee arrangement.
Other potential fees:
A pre-payment will often be required in order to begin to process your matter and you will be kept advised as to how that pre-payment is being used. Bills will be sent to you periodically showing your charges and payments.
Certain cases may have a minimum fee. This means that no hourly accounting will be made unless excess time is expended.
We try to keep legal fees as reasonable as possible. The amount of services required, however, is not fully within our control. We discuss with our client options for services and the benefits of services. Sometimes, however, services are directly related to an opposing party’s action or inaction. Please feel free to discuss fees with your lawyer.
What about litigation costs or out-of-pocket expenses?
|In addition to legal fees, there are various expenses that must be paid to others in order to prepare your legal matter. For example, payments must be made to obtain necessary reports or copies of necessary documents, to employ court reporters to take depositions, to obtain licenses or permits from governmental authorities, to file suits in courts of law, in addition to other outside entities that are necessary to help your cause. Generally, the amounts of these charges will be in direct proportion to the complexity of the matter involved. The easier your matter is to solve, the less these costs will ordinarily be.
At the start of your legal matter, we will try to estimate for you the amount of out-of-pocket expenses which may be incurred on your behalf. We will discuss with you whether or when you will be required to reimburse us for these expenditures which are made on your behalf to further your legal cause.
What do I do if I have a legal question on a different matter than any pending case?
A phone call to our office will direct you to the person who can best answer your question. Remember, no questions as to your rights, duties or obligations should go unanswered because you did not know which lawyer to call. Fees for these different matters will be charged in accordance with our regular practice.
Suppose my law firm cannot represent me?
From time to time, a potential conflict of interest may arise due to our representation of other clients or governmental bodies in the community. When this occurs, we will immediately withdraw from the matter, if it is already underway. You can be assured that at no time will we knowingly take part in a conflict of interest. If a potential conflict arises, we will fully disclose the facts to you, and remove ourselves from the matter and await further instructions concerning the transfer of your file to another attorney.
What about money to be held “in trust” by my attorney?
Certain legal matters require that monies be held “in trust” or “in escrow” for a client for weeks or months at a time. For example, a damage suit settlement may require us to hold the settlement proceeds “in escrow” until the settlement check had been cleared through normal banking procedures. We maintain a separate escrow account, and at no time is money from that account co-mingled with general funds. This is your money held in trust by your attorneys. Separate, detailed records are kept in connection with this account on your behalf.
What about special office hours?
All office visits are by appointment only. We encourage each of our clients to schedule meetings with us during regular business hours. From time to time you may request that we meet you in the evening if the matter cannot wait. While we do not encourage these “special visits,” we may arrange them where necessary. If we must meet with you in the evening, we must reserve the right to add a surcharge to our regular fee for the appointment. You will be advised, in advance, of the decision concerning the surcharge. Since “special visits” may be expensive, please avoid them wherever possible.