Do all attorneys charge by the hour? The quick answer is no, we do not charge by the hour. In 2020, Melissa Pearce decided to change the way 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 one where the defendant does not file an answer or agrees 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 for the entry of a Consent Judgment of Divorce.
The second step is the discovery and mediation phase fee. Around 90 days of retaining the firm, you will be scheduled to have a meeting 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 in a payment plan. The attorney will advise of you the contested issues.
The third step is the trial phase. This is determined after the parties have attended mediation and were not able to completely resolve the case with the assistance of the mediator. While the parties may have resolved some or most of the issues, there will be some issues that 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. If there is a fit, the client coordinator will offer a paid pre-engagement meeting. 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 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. If a potential client wants to have legal questions answer, our client coordinators will offer a paid legal consultation. In this meeting, the attorney will research the client’s specific issues against the law and provide a 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.