We focus on more than just getting results – we also focus on the quality of our clients’ experience with us. Our philosophy is that we are in partnership with you on your legal journey. We know that results matter to you, but that they are not the only thing that matters. We know that your experience during your case is as important to you as the results you get. We strive to make your experience with us the best it possibly can be and we are always looking for ways that we can better serve you.
The results you get and the quality of your experience are both important to us – and that sets us apart.
What You Can Count On Us For
You can count on us to give you our best. By that, we mean our best efforts on your case, our best processes for handling your work, and our best ability to make your experience with us a good one. You can count on us to treat you with respect – including respecting you, your time, and your wishes. You can count on us to act with integrity and efficiency in handling your matter.
You can count on us to be your partner along the way.
What You Can Expect From Us
Communicating with our office
Calls to our office are answered personally from 8:30 to 5:00 Monday through Friday. After the receptionist answers, the person you’re call may not be readily available so your call may go to voicemail if we are unable to answer when your call transfers. We will call you back as soon as we can. If you have something to drop off to us, you can do so during our regular business hours or you can schedule a time for us to be available after hours. If you have mobility issues and cannot come to our office, let us know and we will set up a time to pick up the materials from you.
Your attorney is often out of the office or unavailable to take a call and you may be asked to leave a message for him or her. If your call is concerning the scheduling of an appointment or if you would like to schedule a return call, please ask for Shelley and she will set a time on the calendar for you.
We intend to return calls the same day that messages are left. If the attorney is unavailable and not able to personally return your call that day, you will get a return call as soon as that person is available. If you would like to schedule a specific time for your return call, ask for Shelley and she will get a time set on the calendar for you.
In our firm, we like to communicate by email and we are often able to check messages when we are out of the office and not available by phone. We encourage you to email us anytime. However, we will not always able to respond immediately to email messages so if you need immediate assistance you should call the office and let Shelley help you.
Regarding court cases, you may have gotten the impression that the legal system works swiftly and smoothly from television shows and movies that depict a client meeting a lawyer, then going to trial the next day. Good or bad, the reality is that the legal system does not operate swiftly, and only sometimes operates smoothly. It seems that clients expect things to move more quickly than they do and are often frustrated by that. We have had litigation cases that spanned months, and others that spanned years. How long a litigation case takes is often dependent on the number of parties, the complexity of the case, and the volume of evidence to be brought.
For business and real estate matters, the expected time frame varies widely depending on the nature of the work to be done. When you meet with us to get a sense of the scope of the work to be done, we will be glad to give you an estimate of the time that it will require.
For estate planning, legal work can be completed more quickly as it (generally) does not involve the court system. Nonetheless, we are constrained by the time it takes to gather all the pertinent information and documentation, weigh the options and make important decisions, and produce the documents and execute the plan. You can expect the process to take approximately three weeks from start to finish in many cases. Do not despair, though, if you need more time to gather your information or make important decisions. We work at your pace and your planning can take as much time as you need. If you have all your information and you know what you want, we can often get your plan done sooner than three weeks. Let us know what time frame you want to work and we will do our best to accommodate. We have done emergency plans in one day for those with pressing medical situations.
For probate matters, the time frames are largely driven by the court required notice periods, the court schedule in getting your case heard, the time it takes to marshal assets and make an inventory, the time it takes to discover creditors and give them an opportunity to make a claim, and sometimes the time it takes to sell property. This is assuming there is no dispute about any of this. You can expect a probate without property to take up to six months on average, and a probate with property to take up to a year on average. Sometimes they finish more quickly. Sometimes not.
Guardianships and conserservatorships are ongoing matters and you can expect to have multiple court appearances, even if the guardianship or conservatorship is granted on an emergency basis near the beginning of the case. The procedures in place are designed to protect the rights of the incapacitated adult or minor child who is the subject of the case (the ward), and to make sure that the people charged with being guardian or conservator are acting appropriately and in the best interests of the ward. Even after the initial flurry of activity at the start of the case has died down, annual reports and accountings must be made to the court. In some cases, the court wants to have periodic hearings to monitor how a case is proceeding. If you are part of a guardianship or conservatorship, you can expect to have an ongoing relationship with the court to some degree or another.
Billing and Account Statements
For most of the work we do, we have flat fee or fixed fee pricing. When we say flat fees, we mean that there is one price for the scope of work, and that price is inclusive of all the time and effort that we will put in for that scope of work. This is the case most often in setting up a business, drafting or reviewing contracts, registering trademarks, and estate planning. Fixed fees, on the other hand, are fees that are set as to the amount, but may be recurring based on the ongoing need for the legal work. This is the case for our fixed fee business litigation, commercial evictions, and our larger scale mergers & acquisitions (buying or selling a business).
Although we endeavor to do work on a flat fee or fixed fee basis so you can have certainty about your legal fees, some cases do not lend themselves to this type of fee structure. In those cases, you can expect to receive an invoice after significant milestones, like court appearances or completion of discovery. However, we are always happy to send you a current billing statement at any time – just ask. When you review your billing statement, you may notice that some months there is a lot of activity and some months there is not. It does not mean your case is not important to us. Often we are waiting for something – an upcoming court date, or to receive some documentation, or to get a response from opposing counsel or from you. You can expect us to let you know what is upcoming and keep you posted on the status of your case, no matter what.
When you go to court
When there is a matter to be decided before the court, sometimes the judge wants to hear the matter in open court and sometimes he or she wants to handle the matter in chambers. When we go to court, you may or may not get to participate depending on whether or not we are in open court or in chambers. We understand that it is frustrating to you to take off work, arrange your life to be at court, wear your Sunday best, and then sit in the hall while the lawyers are duking it out in chambers, only for us to come out and announce some result and that you are free to go. We know it is unfair, but that is what sometimes happens and we want you to know what to expect.
If we do have a hearing in open court, we will prepare you so that you know where to sit, when to stand, who’s doing what, and how it’s all going to proceed. We will not leave you wondering about what is going to happen.
What We Expect from Our Clients
Let us know if you need to reschedule
We understand that life happens. We simply ask that you let us know as soon as you know that you need to reschedule an appointment. We will be glad to accommodate, and we will appreciate the advance notice.
Don’t hold back
Sometimes people worry that we might think badly of them, if we really knew what was going on. Whatever situation you are in, we’ve probably seen its equal or worse already. And, we’re not really the condemning type, anyway. So hopefully we can earn your trust and make you feel comfortable sharing everything, even the stuff that makes you a bit uncomfortable.
As a practical matter, we can’t do our best work for you if we don’t know the hand we’ve been dealt. If we know all the facts, we can lean on the ones that benefit your case and work to minimize the ones that don’t help you. Hidden facts tend to come to light, and when that happens unexpectedly, we might not have the ability to line up a good defense.
And on a whole other level, we can’t put forth any falsehood to the court. Not only is that something we won’t personally do, it’s against our attorney ethics rules and we’re not willing to put our licenses and livelihoods on the line for a lie. Sorry (not sorry). Most of the time, we stop working with a client when we learn that they’ve been lying to us. If you want to keep us as your lawyers, it’s best to come clean on the front end.
For your sake and ours, please bring it all to us – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Dress nice for court
The world is getting more and more informal every day, but the court is not. If you are wondering if your attire is appropriate for court, then just wear your Sunday best and you cannot go wrong. Also, keep in mind that courthouse security is much like airport security, so leave your pocketknife at home and you probably want to wear shoes that are easy to take off and put on.
Be on time (or early) for court
The consequences of being late for court can be severe, including the possibility of having your case dismissed or having a default judgement made against you. You do not want to leave the judge waiting – not to mention that your attorney will be harried by your absence and that is no frame of mind for your lawyer to be in. Be on time for court – it will be better for everyone.
Remember that courthouse security is like airport security, and there are often long lines at busy times. Leave yourself plenty of time – it’s better to be there a little early than a little late.