The quick answer is no; most attorneys do not charge by the hour. In 2020, Melissa Pearce changed how we bill our clients for our services. Now, every matter that we handle is billed on a flat fee basis. This means that the price for your representation is determined at the end of your Pre-engagement Meeting. For family law matters, we have implemented a tier flat fee structure. There are three steps to a contested matter.
The first step is the initial fee and is based on an uncontested matter. We define an uncontested matter as where the defendant does not file an answer or agree with the settlement. This means that the parties are not conducting discovery or attending mediation. While the parties may have court hearings to attend, those hearings are either with the Friend of the Court for preliminary matters or the entry of a Consent Judgment of Divorce.
The second step is the discovery and mediation phase fee. Around 90 days after retaining the firm, you will be scheduled to meet with the attorney to review the case and determine the payment of the discovery and mediation phase fee. This can be in a lump sum or a payment plan. The attorney will advise you of the contested issues.
The third step is the trial phase. This is determined after the parties have attended mediation and cannot completely resolve the case with the mediator’s assistance. While the parties may have resolved some or most of the issues, some remain unresolved. The fee will be determined by how many issues are still contested.
Do you offer a free consultation?
We have a free 15-minute screening call with our client coordinators. Client coordinators are not attorneys and are there to screen a matter for a fit with the firm’s practice areas. The client coordinator will offer a paid pre-engagement meeting if a fit exists. While some attorneys will offer a free consultation, we do charge for initial meetings with potential clients. We call this meeting a pre-engagement meeting, and this meeting is to evaluate the potential client’s goals with the firm’s mission. If the potential client decides to hire the firm at the end of the pre-engagement meeting, we will apply the pre-engagement fee towards the flat fee to hire the firm. This is our thank you for making a quick decision on the next action step. Our client coordinators will offer a paid legal consultation if a potential client wants to have legal questions answered. In this meeting, the attorney will research the client’s specific issues against the law and provide legal analysis to the client at the scheduled meeting. Both meetings are protected by attorney-client privilege if no third parties are present during the meeting.