I understand that you have a lot of choice when hiring an attorney. I also recognize that it can be scary to think about calling an attorney. Family law is especially emotional, making a process that is otherwise fairly simple turn into a complex ordeal.
Why should you hire an attorney?
Family law involves a lot of forms and different forms are required depending on the issues in your case. When filing for dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership, there are certain forms that are only needed if children are involved. Other forms the court expects you to serve on your spouse and just file proof of service with the court.
You could with enough time do the research yourself and figure out the proper forms. You probably don’t have time to do that especially if you are employed. One of the main benefits of bringing in an attorney is the peace of mind that you are doing the right thing to advance your case. If you wait until you go before a judge you may get lucky and get some guidance but most judges will shy away from giving out legal advice.
I don’t give out free legal advice over the phone or in my free consultation though I may guide someone to the proper attorney if it is an issue outside my area of practice. The first thing I do once a client hires me is explain my perspective on the case and the next steps I expect the case to go through. Because I recognize your peace of mind is as valuable to you as my advice, I don’t let cases linger on without updating clients on the progress.
What is different about my location?
Most attorneys are Downtown or in a nearby area. I meet clients in an office in La Jolla near UTC & UCSD. This location is convenient for clients who live in Mira Mesa, Poway, or any of the nearby neighborhoods. I recognize that those clients don’t want to travel downtown just to speak with an attorney. For clients who prefer to meet downtown, I offer consultations at the San Diego County Bar Association conveniently located at the corner of Columbia and B street on the 11th floor. In some cases I have handled cases without ever meeting with the client in person if it makes sense based on the work I am doing.
How does my firm use technology?
These days people expect email access to people they deal with. You should have the same level of access to your attorney. Though I can’t do everything digitally I do as much as possible. I find I am more efficient when I get questions via e-mail because I don’t have to stop what I am doing to answer a question. When I do answer, I am able to give the question the time it deserves. I also store my client’s files in the cloud, which means less paper to deal with and documents available whenever I need them. This means that I have access to client files even when I am out of the office so I can work on your case while waiting around in court or out of town on a trip.
What can you expect when you call me?
I like to speak to every potential client over the phone before scheduling a paid consultation so that I don’t waste your time by having a meeting if your case isn’t something I handle. If you send me an e-mail requesting my help and it sounds like something I handle, I will ask you to call me the next day so that I can get more information before scheduling a paid consultation. I also find that scheduling is much easier for both of us if I have you on the phone so I prefer not to schedule meetings over e-mail. Meeting in person is important because it allows us both to determine if we can work well together. If you already have a hearing coming up I will ask you to bring any papers that have already been filed with the court to the meeting so that I can review them. I no longer offer free consultations except for a short 15-minute phone consultation. I expect the consultation fee to be paid in advance of our meeting.
Why is there a charge for in-person consultations?
I started charging for consultations because I devote a full hour of my time to discussing your case with you. If you already have a pending case, I may review some documents and give you some idea what they mean. Though I will not give you legal advise at the consultation, you will have a better understanding of the steps of the process after our meeting. Also, as I grow my practice, I no longer have the luxury of spending an hour with you if you don’t value my time and prioritize the meeting. I block off time to spend for a consultation when I could otherwise be working for other clients.
What happens if you decide to hire me?
If you decide to hire me, we will formalize the arrangement with an agreement that sets out the work you are hiring me to do and how much it will cost. If you expect that your divorce will be uncontested then I will set a price that will cover all of my work on the case as long as we don’t have to fight in court. For a more complex divorce case with children involved I will split the case up into phases and discuss fees as the case develops. I will send you the retainer agreement to sign over e-mail. Once that is signed, I will start working on your case as soon as I receive the initial payment we agree on. I accept checks directly and credit cards through Paypal.
The personal attention I provide to all my clients
People hire an attorney so that they no longer have to stress about their case, knowing someone else is handling things for them. But sometimes attorneys forget that clients don’t always understand how long the process takes. This is why I make myself available by e-mail to clients and typically respond quickly to questions about the status of the case or the next steps. I encourage my clients to send me any questions they have because it helps me to address their issues before they become something more. My clients are glad to be able to receive answers to their questions by e-mail so that they don’t have to waste time with phone tag.
For my clients I also provide a direct phone number so that they can reach me more quickly. Calls aren’t stuck with a secretary who always tells them I am busy. The cases I handle in Family Court are very personal and require a personal touch from an attorney who returns your calls quickly without leaving you wondering if I even check messages. Because of my fixed fee arrangement, I don’t charge clients extra for phone calls or e-mails. Those conversations are part of the service and important to help me understand exactly what is important to my clients.