I get a large volume of calls from people who want to know in that first telephone call how much I am going to charge and what I think I can do. I am sorry but it is just irresponsible for me or any other lawyer to start calling out numbers and promises when I don’t know anything about the case, what I would need to do or what expenses for experts or investigation I need to plan for. I am willing to give away some free time talking to potential clients, as lawyers have always done, but I ask that you give me the information I need to give you accurate and complete answers to your questions. Whether we are talking on the telephone because you prefer that as a way of saving yourself time, or we are talking in my office, I will ask that you bring in or send me a copy of the criminal complaint, divorce petition or other legal documents that pertain to your case. I don’t want your originals; you need to keep those. I want copies I don’t have to return. At bare minimum, I will want to know what county the case is in and what the next court date is, if there is a pending court date.
You may choose to get that information to me by attaching the documents to an email, sending them via fax from your own machine or the one at your local copy shop or by regular mail if time permits using the mail. I will read the material I am given. Sometimes that is two pages and sometimes it is fifty pages. I’ll call you back. I like to talk to the client directly unless for some reason that is not possible or practical. Many of my cases do start by a conversation with a friend, partner or parent and I know that incarcerated people have a hard time getting numbers or making calls. After I get that initial information, I can give you a pretty good estimate of the total cost of your case, including investigation expenses and trial, if that is where we are headed. I’ll tell you what proportion of that sum you will need to pay in advance of my agreeing to start work. I can tell you now that I will ask you to bring in most, or all, of the entire sum I think we are going to need. Sorry, but there are ingrates out there who have failed to pay me in full after I won a jury trial in a case that would have sent them to prison for years if I had lost. In most cases, the total amount is divided into two parts: a minimum fee that I charge for all or a portion of my work, the work before trial, for example, and a second portion that is set aside for additional fees if they become necessary, and for the payment of expenses. I do not bill strictly by the hour in most cases. I am willing to use a flat fee and guarantee that I will charge nothing more than that number, in any case where I think I know enough about what the future holds that I can be fair to both of us in selecting an amount.
You will find in the drop down menu under getting started or via the following links, a copy of the Retainer Agreement and Memorandum that you would be given if we had an office appointment. You would also be given an introduction to the firm and philosophy in a document entitled About Us. I usually use exactly that retainer agreement with changes relating to cost, but I am open to talking about a different arrangement if desired.