4. Can You Charge Me A Flat-Rate Fee?
In some cases, such as in business or immigration matters, lawyers can roughly estimate the amount of time needed to handle your cases.
“Flat-rate fees are great for clients because they help them plan their budget in advance and avoid unwanted surprises at the conclusion of the case,” Deryck Jordan, managing attorney at Jordan Counsel, LLC, in New York, says. “Flat-rate fees also make it easier for you to be a savvy shopper when comparing law firms.”
If you do agree on a flat-rate fee, be sure your lawyer clarifies upfront what expenses are not included in the fee, such as overnight delivery charges, travel expenses or fees paid to governmental agencies.
5. Where’s My Contract?
If your lawyer doesn’t offer you a contract, ask for one. This should clearly state what they will be doing for you, what they charge (be it an hourly rate or a flat rate), how they bill (monthly invoices, etc.) and when they will have your project
“If the lawyer won’t put it in writing, that’s a red flag and you should move on to the next lawyer on your list,” Savarese warns.
6. Can I Avoid Going To Court?
Many people push for legal action because they don’t think they can resolve their matter without going to court, but it’s often possible to achieve the best outcome without the help of a judge or jury. Arbitration, mediation and good old negotiation are all alternatives to formal court proceedings.
New York-based attorney Nance L. Schick uses the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process with many of her clients to help them look at both sides of the dispute.
“First, we explore what the dispute is triggering for them emotionally because that is what tends to hinder their ability to see possible resolutions,” she says. “Then, we can start looking at what might be going on with the other party. If more of us did this, there would probably be far fewer cases on the already backlogged court dockets!”