Board Certified, Estate Planning and Probate Law - Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Av Preeminent rated, Martindale Hubbell
There is a fixed $300.00 charge for a limited initial consultation (typically approximately one hour) regarding the client's circumstances, appropriate available legal alternatives, and whether the firm and client are a suitable match for the needs of the client. The firm will waive the consultation fee in appropriate circumstances upon request and by arrangement prior to the consultation.
It is the firm's policy to always have a specific representation contract regarding the work to be performed and the basis upon which fees are to be charged before work begins for which the client is expected to pay. This avoids surprises regarding the fees and expenses both the client and the firm. When work is to be performed on an hourly basis, the client may impose a maximum authorized fee, and decide when that limit is reached whether to proceed further.
The firm prefers, whenever possible, to work on a "flat fee" or "fixed fee" basis. When the necessary scope of the work is uncertain will an hourly basis be preferred.
Unless the representation contract provides for a fixed fee, the firm's service to clients is at the firm's customary hourly rate of compensation for the type of services rendered at the time rendered. The firm uses attorneys, legal assistants, and qualified technical support staff in order to represent clients in the most effective and cost-efficient manner possible. Currently the customary hourly rate is from $195 to $475 per hour of service for attorneys, from $95 to $150 per hour of service for legal assistants, and $45 to $150 per hour of service for billable staff. Billable staff includes only technical support staff performing non-clerical duties. The customary rate is adjusted from time to time. Our representation contract determines the period for which the firm agrees to apply the current rate to particular representation. Fees for services rendered outside of the Dallas metropolitan area, or at a location other than an office of the firm, are computed including travel time.
Generally hourly or fixed fees will result in the lowest cost of representation, although this result will vary from client to client. Where the client does not have adequate resources to proceed with a meritorious claim or prefers a contingent fee arrangement for such a claim, however, the firm may work with a client on a total or partial contingent fee arrangement.
Mediation and other ADR service fees are generally based upon a one-half day or full day basis. The rate for such services varies depending upon the number of parties, the complexity of the case, the amount in controversy, and the particular process chosen by the parties. Current mediation rates range from $250 per party per half-day to $1,500 per party per day. Generally, two hours of preparation and administrative time per party per day are included in the fee; additional preparation or administrative work required are charged at the firms customary hourly rate. All mediation and other ADR service fees are payable in advance.
Generally, one-half of any fixed fee agreed upon is due at the time the client asks the firm to begin work, with the balance of charges due upon the execution of necessary documents. The firm usually requires the payment of a retainer or non-refundable deposit at the inception of representation to be applied against accruing fees where work is to be performed on an hourly basis, typically in the amount of the fee estimated to be likely to accrue during the first two months of representation, which allows the firm to assure the availability of sufficient time and resources to handle the client's matter properly. All hourly fees are due upon the client's receipt of an invoice for services, and are subject to an account processing fee as set out in the engagement letter if not timely paid. When appropriate to the client's circumstances, however, the firm is often able to arrange an installment payment of fees. If invoiced fees are not paid in a timely fashion, the firm retains the right to withdraw from representation.
Estate planning, business transactions, and estate administration work for clients outside of the Dallas metropolitan area may require the participation of local counsel, depending upon the particular services to be rendered. Where a plan implemented requires on-going attention, the client can only expect prompt, efficient service if local counsel is readily available in the community. The firm's services also frequently require the active participation of the client's certified public accountant and other financial, professional and business advisors.
You should also know that the firm's compensation is always subject to adjustment based upon a person's needs and ability to pay. Our goal is to provide high-quality representation to all those with a need for such services.
Representation of a particular client is contingent upon acceptance of representation by the firm, in its sole discretion, and mutual agreement of the firm and client as evidenced by a written representation contract.
Legal representation, including estate planning, business transactions, real estate transactions, and tax planning usually occur in four stages. The first is information gathering and analysis. In simple situations it is often possible to accomplish this stage during the initial consultation. Where the client's circumstances and needs are more complex, this stage may take place in two steps: first, with general information and preliminary analysis regarding planning to be implemented accomplished during the initial consultation; second, with specific information accumulated during the course of the representation and decisions to be implemented as appropriate to the more detailed information accumulated. When this stage takes place during the initial consultation, analysis is generally included within the scope of a fixed fee, while fees for extensive information gathering, analysis, evaluation, and decision making are determined on an hourly basis.
The second stage is preparation of the necessary documents together with nominal funding, if applicable. In areas of practice in which the firm works extensively, it is able to provide a fixed fee for the preparation, review, and completion of most transactions documents. Where extensive negotiations or other decisions are necessary to arrive at a final agreement regarding the documentary implementation of a transaction, the firm customarily represents clients on an hourly basis.
The third phase is implementation, including transfers of ownership, an activity for which time requirements vary greatly and for which it has been difficult, if not impossible, to provide a fixed a fee. In unusual cases, the representation contract may include implementation. In general, however, services in the implementation stage are based upon an hourly rate of compensation.
The fourth phase of a business or estate planning transaction is maintenance. This service is provided either on a yearly fixed fee retainer or on an "as needed" basis at an hourly rate of compensation.