We don’t know of many people who wake up one morning and say, ‘Gee, today’s a good day to blow a wad of cash on an attorney.’ Most of the time, you’ll need to hire an attorney when you think you really need one to help you out on some transaction, or you’re already in trouble, or you figure out that you need counsel to help you stay out of trouble.
Nope, we’re not talking about these bills.
Hiring an attorney to represent or advise you is a serious step, and one you should take carefully and thoughtfully. It’s also something that you should take after fully understanding the obligations of the attorney to you, and your obligations to the attorney. It’s a two-way street.
In most cases, at least in the states where we practice law, attorneys are not allowed to represent a paying client without first having a written fee agreement (sometimes inaccurately called a ‘retainer agreement’) signed by the client and attorney. The purpose of the fee agreement is to make sure that you as the client…and your attorney…are clear as to what is to be done by the attorney on your behalf, and the fees and expenses associated with the attorney’s services that you will be expected to promptly pay.
Legal fees are not fixed. They are negotiable.
When retaining an attorney, you should consider the fee you negotiate in at least two respects. First, is the attorney competent in the area of law you need? This would help you establish a base rate or fee amount. Second, and we think more important, does the attorney have some greater expertise or experience in the area of your legal need that would make a higher hourly rate more cost effective. This would usually be due to the fact that the attorney can more quickly identify and resolve the real issue, thereby (hopefully) reducing the overall cost, reducing the time, or producing some better result for you, the client. The bottom line on fees: If an attorney quotes you an hourly rate and fixed fee and you don’t like it, you have a right to negotiate a different rate or fee. Of course, the attorney also has a right to reject an engagement if the attorney doesn’t think the rate or fee properly reflects the services and skills required by the potential client.
When an attorney gives you a fee agreement to review and sign, you have a duty to yourself before signing it to carefully read the entire agreement. Ask questions of the attorney if you don’t understand each and every term in that agreement. Don’t sign if you don’t 100% understand and agree with all of the terms in the fee agreement.
Our fee agreements are designed to avoid the unnecessary use of legal jargon. Please note that each fee agreement is tailored for the particular client and matter.
If you decide to retain Telecom Law Firm, P.C. for legal representation or counsel you should expect that we will require you to provide a deposit against which we’ll deduct our billings. We generally require deposits of all new private and corporate clients, and occasionally from prior-existing clients.
All deposit money is held in an Attorney Client Trust Account in accordance with the rules of the State Bar of California. The Trust Account is completely separate from our regular operating account. Lawfully…and ethically…we can NOT co-mingle your Trust Deposit money with our law firm operating funds. Our Attorney Client Trust Account does not pay interest to our clients, nor does it pay interest to us. Under State Bar of California rules, any interest earned from the Attorney Client Trust Account is paid directly to the State Bar to help pay for programs providing access to legal services program by persons could not otherwise afford legal help. That’s a very good use of the interest money, and we hope you’ll agree.
If your Trust Account deposit is made by check, we are likely to wait for funds to clear prior to providing services.
For a faster start-up, you have the option of providing that Trust Deposit by using your Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards and a form we provide you to authorize the Trust Deposit. One hundred percent of the Trust Deposits made by Visa or Mastercard are credited to your Trust Account; we absorb the processing fees. For payments for our invoiced fees and expenses already earned, we accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express cards, as well as PayPal and BitCoin.