Why Hire an Attorney?
A knowledgeable, committed attorney is not only a critical asset in your legal case, but also an essential buffer against the turmoil that usually accompanies a legal case, a mediation or other settlement efforts. Look for a lawyer who not only has knowledge, experience and concern about you and your family, but one who is willing to show it by providing useful information about the law and legal proceedings, recommending practical solutions, managing expectations and providing reality-checks concerning your goals and perspectives. Look for the lawyer who returns your calls and emails, and keeps you informed on a timely basis. Also, ask attorneys about their fees and costs. Make sure the billing is transparent and understandable. No rules or laws specify how much an attorney can charge a client, except that the fees must be reasonable.
How to Retain My Services.
If you are thinking about hiring me, please contact me directly by phone or by email. I will be happy to answer any general questions you have. If we agree that I should handle your case then I will send you information about retaining my services and fees. I will begin work upon completion of the required paperwork and fee arrangements.
Paid Consultation. If needed, and if you desire, we can schedule a formal consultation by telephone, via Zoom or in person to more fully understand your position and perspective before you retain my services. I may request information and documentation to review in preparation for your consultation. During the discussion, I will identify and explain the legal issues, explore your options, and offer strategies for your case. Your ability to provide complete and accurate information will be crucial to the success of the consultation. The consultation fee will be charged based on my hourly rate and the number of hours that you request. Usually clients ask for a one-hour consultation. After the consultation, you may choose to retain my services or continue your search for an attorney you feel comfortable hiring.
Legal Fees & Costs.
The cost of legal services can be burdensome even for affluent families. My goal in setting fees and billing is to be as transparent as possible and to provide you with cost-effective service. It is impossible to predict the precise cost of a case. The amount of time I spend on your case will be the result of many factors, including positions taken by the other side, and the size and complexity of the case. For example divorce cases involving extensive assets and debts, or combative child custody issues, or complex spousal support issues, will incur higher fees. Criminal appeals from a lengthy trial and extensive sentencing proceedings will incur higher fees.
Costs. Clients pay costs in addition to fees. Costs are expenses incurred to represent you that are listed in the billing invoice. Normally occurring costs include postage, photocopying charges, messenger fees, fees to serve someone with a summons or subpoena and the court's filing fees. Significant unique costs could include hiring a custody evaluator, medical expert, private investigator, appraiser or forensic accountant.
How to Pay Fees and Costs
All clients pay an agreed-upon retainer fee. The retainer amount is paid in full before I begin working. All retainer funds are kept in a client trust account and remain the client's money until work is done for the client. At the end of the month, the client receives an invoice that: details the work completed; calculates the charges for fees and costs; and subtracts the total from the retainer already paid. If the retainer satisfies the total amount, no payment is due that month. If the retainer amount is exhausted or almost depleted, I will ask the client to replenish the client trust account to pay for future fees and costs. If the firm completes work for a client and a balance remains, it is returned to the client.
Clients can help to manage legal costs. I highly recommend a pamphlet written by the New York State Bar Association, entitled "You and Your Lawyer," which is very informative as to how to manage your legal affairs and costs. I have included key excerpts in the main menu to this website.