I get this question many times weekly. I explain that it is equivalent to calling a doctor over the phone and asking what s/he would charge to see you, as well as prescribe a course of treatment that would ultimately cure you. A lawyer, like a doctor, needs more information to evaluate the matter.
Unfortunately, most matters are not resolved with just a letter and I don’t want to take money from a client who can’t afford to see the case to conclusion. As a rule a letter will result in an immediate response from the other party, or their lawyer, and if your client can’t afford to stay in the game why waste their money.
I believe a lawyer should educate clients that the only thing a lawyer has to sell is time. Thus when a client (or the other side) calls or sends an email the lawyer is billing for that time. In other words the client has to be judicious in the use of the attorney’s time and understand that the lawyer is billing in 10 or 15 minute segments.
Some lawyers are more ethical than others, and will quote a low amount for a letter, yet later demand a lot more money. There is “good and bad” in every profession and that is in part why the AVVO legal rating system was recently created where lawyers rate one another on 10.0 system. I am honored to have a 10.0 rating.
A quoted civil hourly fee is a guestimate of billable time. There is no way to know what the other side will do. Sometimes upon receiving an attorney’s letter, the opposition will fold their cards, and we will simply prevail.
Other times the opposition hires an attorney and the paper battle begins. Some defense lawyers will “milk” cases and paper us by filing various motions. This causes all fees to escalate.
There is nothing more expensive than Civil Litigation. Not only will it cost $600 to file a summons and complaint, but we may also need further funds to hire an investigator or serve the defendant.
If the defendant does not respond we file, serve and get a judgment. If the defendant’s lawyer moves to vacate the judgment six months later you start over again.
I ask prospective clients “Who has more money……….YOU or the other party?” If the client is not as well off as the other side, I explain it may be difficult for the client to stay in the game against a legal bully and maybe they should think twice before hiring a lawyer.
The Holidays are upon us. Don’t Drink and Drive. Call a Taxi or Uber. It is a lot cheaper than having an accident or DUI and calling me.
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“TOP LAWYER” – Palm Springs Life-(DUI/PI)-2011-18
“TOP LAWYER”- Inland Empire Magazine Nov. ’16
PERFECT 10.0 AVVO Peer Rating