1. Why should I have a lawyer?
Lawyers are trained professionals who can explain the laws to you; help you evaluate your options; negotiate or mediate conflicts with other people; prepare letters, court forms or other legal documents for you; and represent you in court.
Some cases are charged on a flat fee basis. If you have such a case, our attorneys can generally tell you up front how much your case will cost. Other cases are charged on a time and effort basis. Each attorney has an hourly billing rate and you will be billed on a monthly basis.
Generally, no. The purpose of an initial consultation is simply an opportunity for you to learn about our level of experience and expertise, or our philosophy and methods of handling cases, or seeing if you think we could work well together.
A retainer is a deposit, or advance payment from you, which we will deposit in a separate trust account, against which we will charge our work on your case, and for which we will account to you monthly. We may, in some cases, later ask for an additional retainer if the original sum deposited turns out to be inadequate. The amount of the retainer fee that we will request differs from case to case depending upon things like the anticipated complexity of the case, the amount of financial responsibility involved, the client's ability to pay, the amount of work that must be done at the outset, etc.
Yes, credit cards may be used both for retainers and monthly account payments.
There are filing fees charged by the court in most cases. In some cases expert witnesses might be needed. You will be expected to advance the funds for these expenses. We occasionally need to get certified copies of documents, or pay to have documents served. You will be expected to reimburse us for such items.
Having retainer agreements in writing helps avoid later misunderstandings. Moreover, the State Board or Professional Responsibility for Lawyers strongly encourages the use of such items.