What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
Pricing is different depending upon your legal matter. Generally the attorneys in our firm charge $250 to $300 per hour. However a simple will package personalized for you is only $500 and Uncontested Divorces can be as low as $1,500 for the attorney's work. We do not charge for paralegal time nor for administrative work. We also do not count copies and charge by the page which seems to be often noticed and appreciated by clients.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
The first step with a new client is an initial consultation which gives the client an opportunity to tell their story. At that meeting we work together to design the best path toward a solution to the issue. Each area of law has multiple options for example family law issues may require a choice between a contested or an uncontested divorce or deciding if an aggressive approach to a child timesharing issue is best or if beginning with negotiation/offers is better. In estate planning the question of Do I need a trust? is common and their are pros and cons to creating vs. not creating a trust. I will help my client at every step and he/she will be involved in the processes as we move through the case.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I am a summa cum laude graduate of Florida Institute of Technology in psychology with a minor in business administration. My J.D. was obtained here in Florida and I also have worked as a professor of law teaching Introduction to Law to undergraduate pre-law and science / engineering students. I continue to serve as a member of the Advisory Board of the Pre-Law Program at the local university and am a member of the Vassar B. Carlton Inn of Court - a group dedicated to promoting ethics, professionalism and education in the legal community. I am also continually keeping my continuing education current and have many more CLE course credits than are required to maintain my license to practice law.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
Becoming a lawyer was a rewarding challenge and started with an undergraduate degree, several externships, a lot of schooling, and ending with the study required to take the Florida Bar Exam which I successfully passed on my first attempt. Beginning to work in the law years before becoming an attorney helped prepare me for this type of work. Serving people is part of my upbringing and this trait enhances the relationships I enjoy with my clients which often continue long after the legal matter is concluded. This is a part of the story that brought me to serve clients as an attorney.
What types of customers have you worked with?
Estate Planning; Family Law; Paternity; Dependency (DCF related), Real Estate, Landlord/Tenant, Probate, Misc. Legal Issues (such as a client that had difficulty with a state issued license holder - I quickly cleared the matter for issuance of proper approvals), Fraud by construction companies, Criminal matters, Elder law issues, and others.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
A particular family law case recently ended after approximately 13 months involving the parents and four children. It was complicated and the opposing party was not agreeable on any issue. We were successful in obtaining a favorable result for our client.
In another case I was able to secure a full return of all funds for an elder person who was taken advantage of by a local construction company. The total returned to her was $15,000 plus she was able to retain the products already installed in her home. I worked with the construction company then their lawyer, the county and city building officials to rework and reissue permits and approvals.
Additionally I enjoy working with retired persons to plan for their maximum benefit in regard to their assets and planning for incapacity.
Recently I helped a client avoid an eviction action against their tenant by negotiating the tenants departure from the property with minimal cost to the property owner. It was rewarding to assist this client and save them significant time and money.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Find an attorney or a firm that has both litigation experience and family law experience if you are in a dissolution of marriage or post divorce situation.
For those people that have retirement or will/trust planning matters seek out an attorney that has the time to answer your questions without hurrying you along and the compassion to understand your and your families needs.
Most of all you must have a solid level of comfort and trust in the attorney you will be working with on your matter. Meet the attorney you are considering and see what you think of their responsiveness (how soon can you see them for a consult?), how much time will they take on the phone when you call (will they even take your call or how long until they return your call?), and then follow your instincts about the attorney and the firm after meeting.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
What are the actual issues of your matter? Not the emotional portions but rather the breach of the contract in contract matters, the assets/liabilities/and the children in family law cases, also viewed by attorneys as the actual issues - the lawyer, a good lawyer, will help you weed through the emotional portions to find what your baseline issues are and how best to proceed with them. Running directly to litigation is not always the best way for the client to move forward and find a resolution but also a case does not always benefit from a delay.