Scope of Representation
This agreement will govern any services provided to you by our firm, unless we enter a new written agreement. If you received an onboarding email from our firm outlining the proposed services or providing an estimate, that email is considered a part of this agreement. This is not an agreement to represent you in all possible legal matters – only those requested by you and agreed by our firm.
For predictable services, we generally charge based on the value provided rather than the actual time spent. But if the service is unpredictable or not susceptible to value-billing, then charges will be hourly. We bill at the following rates, in one-tenth or one-quarter hour increments:
- Legal Assistants: $95 per hour
- Paralegals: $125 per hour
- Entry Level Attorneys: $150 per hour
- Mid-Level Attorneys: $190
- Mid to Senior-Level Attorneys: $250
Although we work as a team when required, we do not charge multiple attorney rates unnecessarily. As a small firm, we focus on efficiency, seeking to keep hourly charges as low as possible while still achieving a favorable result. If necessary, matters may be transitioned among attorneys. In certain cases, we may retain contract attorney(s) outside our firm for their subject-matter expertise, state licensure, or proximity.
Necessary out-of-pocket costs, such as filing fees, process service, delivery, certified mail, or any other necessary expenses are paid by the client in addition to attorney fee estimates. We generally pay expenses directly and seek reimbursement by invoice, but we may ask that larger expenses be paid in advance.
Pricing estimates are an imperfect attempt to predict how much work might be required. Estimates can be inaccurate due to new questions from clients, opposing or non-cooperative parties, new information, negotiations, disputes, litigation, or other unforeseen circumstances. Estimates are also impacted by the nature of client communication and cooperation, as described below.
Communication & Cooperation
We welcome and value client communication. But we also strive to focus our time and communications efficiently. A greater amount of phone calls, emails, questions, or status requests from clients generally requires a greater amount of time from attorneys. Likewise, we welcome constructive criticism, suggestions, improvements, and new information from clients. However, if client questions, suggestions, or opinions become unusually frequent, demanding, or unnecessary, our attorneys may be forced to explain and reconstruct legal work product, thereby causing an increase in estimated prices.
Delayed Payment Arrangements
Unless agreed otherwise in writing, payment is due upon invoice. In some cases, we might agree to be paid at a later time, such as a future closing, settlement, judgment, sale, buyout, or other triggering event. If you decline to proceed with the triggering event, or if you terminate representation before we receive payment, then you agree to pay our hourly rates or pro-rated flat fee for the work performed up to that time, plus out-of-pocket costs.
Retainers – Trust Payments
We may request a retainer at any time, in our sole discretion. Retainer payments are not an estimate of total cost or a flat fee, but rather a down-payment toward whatever work is performed. As work is performed, trust funds are applied to invoices. If your retainer balance falls below a certain amount, we may require that it be replenished before additional work can be performed. If the representation ends and there is unused money in the trust account, we will refund the remaining balance. If you are unwilling or unable to replenish the retainer to an amount determined in our sole discretion, we reserve the right to immediately terminate representation. This is true even if there is an ongoing lawsuit, an upcoming deadline, or a pending transaction. Under no circumstances will our firm be liable for legal consequences, damages, or loss resulting from the cessation of legal work due to a client’s failure to renew the retainer or pay an outstanding invoice.
You will receive invoices by email or mail, showing work performed. Invoices may be sent at the following times: (i) once every two weeks; or (ii) at the conclusion of representation or at the conclusion of a particular project. You agree to pay the invoice by the due date stated on the invoice. Unpaid invoices shall accrue interest at the rate of 15% per annum, pro-rated on a daily basis (we waive interest on almost all late payments, but we reserve the right to collect it in our sole discretion). At times, monthly invoices may not be sent regularly due to delays in the project, delayed payment arrangement, or other factors, but fees accruing during that period are still payable at the time of later invoice.
No Guaranteed Outcomes
We can provide legal advice and services to assist you, but the decisions are always yours to make, and your legal rights and responsibilities are ultimately outside of our control. Litigation, negotiation, disputes, and some transactions are inherently uncertain. We may agree that you are in the right or that you have a strong cause, and we may even venture a guess at your chances of success, but you understand and acknowledge that we cannot truly predict whether you will achieve a favorable financial and legal outcome. As such, NO GUARANTEES ARE BEING MADE AS TO ANY FINANCIAL OR LEGAL OUTCOME, and payment for services is not contingent upon legal or financial outcomes. We are not responsible for information and objectives that you have not specifically communicated to us. We reserve the right to withdraw for any reason allowed by the rules of professional conduct.
Comprehensive Title Review Not Assumed
If you inform us that property is owned or held by a certain person or entity, we may rely on this information. When you hire us to prepare a deed, make a conveyance, probate or administer an estate, quiet title as to a particular issue, review a title commitment, act as transaction counsel, or perform other title work, you are not hiring us to prepare a full title opinion or perform a comprehensive title search on all other possible title issues. If you desire our firm to identify all possible title issues, we must specifically agree in writing to render a title opinion or perform a comprehensive title exam – otherwise, we will focus our curative title efforts only on the specific title defect(s) brought to our attention. A title opinion or comprehensive title search on all possible title defects is not an assumed part of our representation or our curative title work.
Title Insurance Requirements, Exceptions, & Objections
If you have been provided with a title commitment or title work of any kind from a title insurance company or another law firm (collectively “Title Work”), our firm might review or comment upon such Title Work as part of our representation. However, since our firm is not an insurer or a title company, you accept the ultimate burden of accepting or rejecting the exceptions, requirements, or objections in the Title Work. We assume that you will review each item of the Title Work and specifically ask our legal opinion if you have questions about a given item in the Title Work. We will not necessarily point out every item or issue in your Title Work, but we will address any questions you may ask us regarding the Title Work. We are not responsible or liable for additional costs, delays, or consequences caused by closing requirements or exceptions from a closing company/title insurance company (“Title Requirements”). You acknowledge that Title Requirements are outside of our control and are merely the opinions of a self-interested private insurer. Title Requirements as to work performed by our firm do not establish any defect in our work, as Title Requirements may be unpredictable or in excess of actual legal requirements.
If you approach us with legal matter involving a potential deadline, statute of limitations, or other time-based concern, you are responsible for immediately informing us in writing of the potential deadline, and you acknowledge that we may be unable to meet deadlines if we were not retained with adequate time to prepare and identify any potential deadlines. Unless specifically agreed in writing, our representation does NOT include making appeals or advising you on the appeal deadline.
Remedies and Liability
If you are ever unhappy with our services, you must notify us in writing before taking any other action, and provide us the opportunity to evaluate and explain the situation and, if we deem appropriate, to take corrective action with respect to the services. Unless a final judgment by a court determines our firm was grossly negligent or committed willful misconduct, our firm’s liability for any claim you may have against us is limited to the amount of the fees directly related to the services at issue that have actually been paid to us. You agree that we will not be responsible, under any circumstances, for lost profits, transaction value, revenues, or other indirect losses or liabilities. You agree that our firm does not bear the burden of any potential increase or decrease in the market value of a property or asset due to alleged misconduct by our firm, because any such shift in market value is too speculative to support a damages award.
Fee Shifting and Damages Liability
If you ask us to provide services related to a legal dispute or litigation of any kind, you acknowledge that you are taking 100% of the risk for possible future damages awards or attorney fee awards against you. You understand that in litigation, there is always a possibility that you will incur liability for a judgment against you, or for the attorney fees and costs of another party. Our firm will not be liable for this risk. Likewise, we may seek to obtain an attorney fee award from the opposing party on your behalf, but regardless of whether fees are awarded, you are responsible for all charges under this agreement. Generally, courts have the discretion to decide whether or not to award fees, so we cannot control this with certainty.
If you bring physical documents to our firm, you are responsible for clearly identifying to us which of those documents may be originals or valuable for any reason. Our policy is not to keep client documents in hard copy at our office unless absolutely necessary. We anticipate scanning any physical documents you deliver to our office, and we expect that you will then retrieve them within a reasonable time (not to exceed one month) after delivering them to be scanned. In any case, we will not store physical client documents at our office for more than one (1) year, and you are responsible for retrieving your hard copies prior to that time, or they may be destroyed.
Practice Areas vs. Specialization
We do not make any representations that our attorneys are formally certified or specialize in any particular areas of law. We represent on our website and marketing materials that we focus exclusively on property law as our primary practice area. This should be taken to mean that property law, including any and all sub-categories, is the area of law we spend our time practicing. Our attorneys may or may not have other credentials related to property law, but you acknowledge that we have not made any representations of specialization or credentialing of any kind.
Unpaid Fees & Costs
If you owe us past-due legal fees or costs, we are authorized to collect them from your property or proceeds in a court proceeding, from closing proceeds in a real estate transaction upon invoice to the title company, by attorney lien, fee application in court, from any funds or property we hold on your behalf, or any other method allowed by law.
Counsel as to This Agreement
We are not acting as your counsel with respect to this agreement. If you wish to be advised on whether you should enter into this agreement, we recommend that you consult with independent counsel of your choice.
Conflicts of Interest
If a conflict of interest arises, we may either request a waiver of the conflict or otherwise withdraw from the legal representation. You are responsible for informing us of the names of any potentially adverse parties at the outset of representation. Neither you nor our firm will be liable to the other for lost profits, lost opportunity, or any special, indirect, exemplary, consequential, or punitive damages.
If multiple parties sign this agreement, then each party will be jointly represented by our firm. Attorney-client confidentiality does not apply among jointly represented parties. This means that we may share information between and among each party. By signing, each represented party waives any possible conflicts of interest with each other represented party.
No Services Until Retention
After you have signed this Legal Services Agreement and made any retainer payment that may have been requested, we can begin work on your behalf. Until then, we cannot guarantee our time or attention to your legal matters.