Lawyers charging for asking about fees

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Incendiary
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Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Incendiary » Fri May 19, 2017 3:57 pm

Are lawyers "allowed" to bill you for time asking them about fees? Is it common practice? Against ABA guidelines?

Just looking for guidance here. Thanks.

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dm200
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby dm200 » Fri May 19, 2017 4:02 pm

Incendiary wrote:Are lawyers "allowed" to bill you for time asking them about fees? Is it common practice? Against ABA guidelines?
Just looking for guidance here. Thanks.


No attorney here, but I believe lawyers are allowed to bill you for any and everything they "do" for you (by the minute or fraction of an hour).

If this were an attorney with whom you had no ongoing relationhip, it would seem difficult [but not impossible] for them to bill you for 3 or 4 minutes.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Fallible » Fri May 19, 2017 4:24 pm

Incendiary wrote:Are lawyers "allowed" to bill you for time asking them about fees? Is it common practice? Against ABA guidelines?

Just looking for guidance here. Thanks.


Did you discuss only fees? Or did you also discuss what the fees were for and for what services?
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bottlecap
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby bottlecap » Fri May 19, 2017 5:35 pm

No prohibition that I know of, but most lawyers would let it go if you have a legitimate question over a fee.

However, if you are a "problem client", then you might get billed for everything because you take up time over trivial matters and the lawyer's time is valuable.

Can't tell because there are no facts given.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby gclancer » Fri May 19, 2017 7:07 pm

Is there an engagement letter? If so, what does it say (remember, it was drafted by the attorney so I'm sure it's very broad in defining what gets billed). An attorney billing you for their time spent arguing with you over the bill is sending a message about their interest in continuing to represent you. They'll keep doing the work if you keep paying them, but it's probably best for both of you to part ways. I wouldn't try to stiff them on the final invoice on your way out the door - just pay the bill and move on.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby warowits » Fri May 19, 2017 11:16 pm

Incendiary wrote:Are lawyers "allowed" to bill you for time asking them about fees? Is it common practice? Against ABA guidelines?

Just looking for guidance here. Thanks.



I would say no in my experience billing people for a quick question about your bill is not common practice. As to ABA guidelines you are looking at RPC 1.5 (or your states equivalent, which is likely almost identical).

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/profe ... _fees.html
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby J295 » Sat May 20, 2017 7:13 am

OP .....facts for context to your question please.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Hunky-dory » Sat May 20, 2017 8:00 am

I have never heard of an attorney billing for the bill. I would refuse to pay for that time and look for another attorney.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby carolinaman » Sat May 20, 2017 9:28 am

I always ask attorneys what their fee will be. In addition to learning what the cost will be it tells the lawyers you have some price sensitivity and know enough to ask the price. I know of people who did not ask and got expensive surprises. Always ask in advance.

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dm200
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby dm200 » Sat May 20, 2017 10:06 am

Hunky-dory wrote:I have never heard of an attorney billing for the bill. I would refuse to pay for that time and look for another attorney.


I did not interpret the OP this way.

One interpretation (that I made) was a person calls his attorney and spends, say 10-20 minutes asking about what the fees would or might be about doing some legal task for the client. Perhaps, "Chris - my wife and I are considering forming an LLC for two rental houses. This .... is our situation. What would you charge for taking care of forming the LLC? "

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Atgard » Sat May 20, 2017 10:09 am

I would not bill a client for an honest question over fees, asking for an explanation of the bill, etc. And I would not bill a client when acquiring the client or negotiating the fees for a certain task.

HOWEVER, even though I make my fees very clear in advance (and are often flat-rate, so no haggling over how many hours it took), some clients do waste a great deal of my time over billing matters, being slow in paying bills, needing lots of reminders, asking for retroactive discounts, etc. It can take up to 50% of my time to deal with billing and collections and administrative and other non-billable work. (Keep that in mind next time you think an hourly fee is too high; I did too before I ran my own practice.)

So, yeah, if I had a client that made a habit of trying to evade or delay paying bills, asking for the 4th explanation of them, asking for extensions to pay, asking me to send the invoice again because they lost it, etc. etc., I might start charging them for all that wasted time. Not to make money, but to discourage the time-wasting. But I would never charge a client for an honest question about a bill; like I said, I make them very very clear in writing up front so there are no surprises, and I want clients to know what they are paying for and feel they're getting good value.

But for professions where the "product" we sell is our time, if you take up a lot of it, you should expect to pay for that.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Jonathan » Sat May 20, 2017 1:03 pm

There are plenty of wonderful lawyers in this world. But, broadly, lawyers have earned their reputation.

No sense in arguing. One strategy: "Of course, I'm happy to pay your bill, in full and on time. As soon as I receive it, I'll leave a review for you online." 8-)

Best site for advice about legal fees: http://devilsadvocate.com

Be sure to review their sample retainer agreement. Once lawyers know that you're savvy about billing, they're less likely to hustle you. Same deal if you're a hobby car enthusiast; you're less likely to get ripped off by a mechanic.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby skepticalobserver » Sat May 20, 2017 1:32 pm

The ABA publishes model rules for ethical conduct and associated advisory opinions and are merely recommendatory. Each jurisdiction (more specifically, the highest court in a jurisdiction or any entity to which it may delegate its authority) promulgates its own rules for ethical conduct and may adopt all or part of the ABA model. Accordingly, without knowing where the attorney is admitted to practice it's not possible to say what standard of ethical conduct (if any) has been violated. More than likely in the course of discussing a fee the merits of your situation were reviewed thus justifying (in the attorney's mind, at least) a fee. Whatever the attorney's reason for billing under these circumstance it's a sure way to scare off business and gives a heads-up on future problems. Find another lawyer.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby sherwool » Sat May 20, 2017 3:55 pm

I think this story, about a high visibility Washington DC attorney and former Secretary of Defense, Clark Clifford, answers your question.

One day a client sat down with Mr. Clifford and explained a situation- my impression was it was not a long presentation. Clifford advised, "Take no action." The man left the office relieved, but was so chagrined a week or so later to see a bill for $10,000 for this advise, that he marched down to Clifford's office and demanded to see the great man. Clifford declined to change the bill. The client was horrified a little while later to receive another bill for $10,000!

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby skepticalobserver » Sat May 20, 2017 4:07 pm

sherwool wrote:I think this story, about a high visibility Washington DC attorney and former Secretary of Defense, Clark Clifford, answers your question.


I heard the same story many years ago. Unfortunately, Clark Clifford’s long and honored career ended on a sour note, as he was implicated in a major bank scandal. He dodged the bullet, claiming he was deceived, noting that “I have the choice of either seeming stupid or venal.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_Clifford

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby TheJoker » Sat May 20, 2017 4:15 pm

99% of all attorneys......................................... make the rest of them look bad.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby NotWhoYouThink » Sat May 20, 2017 4:20 pm

Your attorney is trying to fire you. You can either let him, or try to figure out why he wants to. Is he worth keeping?

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dm200
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby dm200 » Sat May 20, 2017 5:23 pm

sherwool wrote:I think this story, about a high visibility Washington DC attorney and former Secretary of Defense, Clark Clifford, answers your question.
One day a client sat down with Mr. Clifford and explained a situation- my impression was it was not a long presentation. Clifford advised, "Take no action." The man left the office relieved, but was so chagrined a week or so later to see a bill for $10,000 for this advise, that he marched down to Clifford's office and demanded to see the great man. Clifford declined to change the bill. The client was horrified a little while later to receive another bill for $10,000!


:)

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby galectin » Sat May 20, 2017 5:57 pm

skepticalobserver wrote:
sherwool wrote:I think this story, about a high visibility Washington DC attorney and former Secretary of Defense, Clark Clifford, answers your question.


I heard the same story many years ago. Unfortunately, Clark Clifford’s long and honored career ended on a sour note, as he was implicated in a major bank scandal. He dodged the bullet, claiming he was deceived, noting that “I have the choice of either seeming stupid or venal.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_Clifford


Funny, but not surprising, that the option of telling the truth did not seem to be under consideration by Mr. Clifford.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Jonathan » Sat May 20, 2017 6:56 pm

Their whole game ends as soon it becomes popular to post their bills online.

Just sayin'. :twisted:

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Incendiary » Sat May 20, 2017 7:15 pm

I don't have many facts to offer because I'm not fully apprised of the situation. All I know is an invoice was received with a bill for 0.5 hours for "respond to client question regsading (sic) payment of fees."

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby toofache32 » Sat May 20, 2017 7:30 pm

Jonathan wrote:No sense in arguing. One strategy: "Of course, I'm happy to pay your bill, in full and on time. As soon as I receive it, I'll leave a review for you online." 8-)


So you're recommending extortion?

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby kenner » Sat May 20, 2017 7:41 pm

Jonathan wrote:There are plenty of wonderful lawyers in this world. But, broadly, lawyers have earned their reputation.



Yes, they have.

Some notable lawyers are Thomas Jefferson (a founding father of the United States of America), Abraham Lincoln (who preserved the United States of America) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who led America through the global existential threat posed by wars started by Japan and Germany in World War II).

I believe some Americans believe those men "have earned their reputations."

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby oragne lovre » Sat May 20, 2017 7:42 pm

toofache32 wrote:
Jonathan wrote:No sense in arguing. One strategy: "Of course, I'm happy to pay your bill, in full and on time. As soon as I receive it, I'll leave a review for you online." 8-)


So you're recommending extortion?


Are reviews that are left on Amazon website considered extortions? 8-)
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Mudpuppy » Sat May 20, 2017 7:46 pm

Incendiary wrote:I don't have many facts to offer because I'm not fully apprised of the situation. All I know is an invoice was received with a bill for 0.5 hours for "respond to client question regsading (sic) payment of fees."

Asking for a friend without the full story from the friend is not very helpful. You're unlikely to stumble upon the correct answer, particularly if your friend is unwilling to disclose specifics. Might I suggest a response along the lines of "Oh my, that sounds unpleasant to deal with. Good luck."

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby junior » Sat May 20, 2017 7:56 pm

kenner wrote:
Jonathan wrote:There are plenty of wonderful lawyers in this world. But, broadly, lawyers have earned their reputation.



Yes, they have.

Some notable lawyers are Thomas Jefferson (a founding father of the United States of America), Abraham Lincoln (who preserved the United States of America) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who led America through the global existential threat posed by wars started by Japan and Germany in World War II).

I believe some Americans believe those men "have earned their reputations."


If being a lawyer wasn't a requirement for the things they are known for and it wasn't lawyer work they are known for it seems a bit desperate to use them as examples to defend lawyers. When most people diss lawyers they mean professional lawyers.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby toofache32 » Sat May 20, 2017 8:09 pm

oragne lovre wrote:
toofache32 wrote:
Jonathan wrote:No sense in arguing. One strategy: "Of course, I'm happy to pay your bill, in full and on time. As soon as I receive it, I'll leave a review for you online." 8-)


So you're recommending extortion?


Are reviews that are left on Amazon website considered extortions? 8-)


It's not the review. It's threatening to leave a bad review to avoid paying the bill is extortion. Or maybe not, I'm not a lawyer.

Incendiary
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Incendiary » Sat May 20, 2017 8:24 pm

I did not mean for this thread to turn into a referendum on lawyers. I don't mind the comments, nor do I mind lawyers, but I hope the mods do not lock this thread... Thanks.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Gropes & Ray » Sat May 20, 2017 8:35 pm

Billing for time to discuss a bill sounds like the lawyer's way of telling you not to call again. I know that would be my message.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Jonathan » Sat May 20, 2017 9:51 pm

To expand: NEVER predicate the leaving of a negative online review on ANYTHING. If anyone tries to steer you in that direction, you just say something like: "Obviously, if this situation is resolved to my satisfaction, it would be perfectly reasonable for me to re-assess it." And you mean it.

You can use this strategy in concert with Amazon reviews or Yelp reviews. However, what if the Amazon product already has 500 reviews? We already know that companies, ahem, work to improve their Amazon reviews. Or what if the company is in Yelp's good graces, and you won't be able to get your negative review out the door? We know Yelp has a history of litigation over alleged manipulation of reviews for companies that pay Yelp.

We recently dealt with such an issue over a broken product. Spiel aside, we felt we were entitled to a replacement, and the company disagreed. I spent $10 and purchased BrokenBrandNameProduct.com, obviously substituting BrandName and Product for the relevant brand name and product name. I then made a very basic one-page website, with one line of text and two photos. In large text, at the top, I put: "BrokenBrandNameProduct.com is not associated with or endorsed by BrandName, Inc." Under that text, I put two photographs of the broken product in question. This is a less adversarial solution than BrandNameSucks.com, which is also perfectly legal, and common!

Then I told the company that I am documenting this situation on BrokenBrandNameProduct.com. Lo and behold, said company was kind enough to send me a replacement new product. At that time, I re-assessed the situation, and decided to take down the website.

We are now having a problem with our fancy, high dollar kitchen oven. We've had to fix it numerous times. The company's position is that it's no longer under warranty. I'm concerned that we bought a lemon. I imagine that they are acting in accordance with the law, and so will I.

I would also be cautious about even asking if someone on a forum is recommending extortion. The solution I'm recommending is 100% perfectly legal, and made in good faith to help my fellow Bogleheads who may have been wronged by an unethical company or service provider.
Last edited by Jonathan on Sat May 20, 2017 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bluebirdy
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby bluebirdy » Sat May 20, 2017 9:57 pm

I was once billed for 15 minutes of time ($90) for a lawyer sending me a bill... but the bill had nothing on it except that 15 minutes of time for sending me that bill (for no services provided; hadn't talked to him in months). Charged to send me a bill for nothing else but the act of sending an otherwise blank bill... I ended the relationship and got my retainer back.

Smorgasbord
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Smorgasbord » Sun May 21, 2017 12:18 am

To whom were the fees paid? Patent law is my day job and I routinely bill for questions related to US Patent Office fees.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Ragnoth » Sun May 21, 2017 2:28 am

I work for a big firm.

Anything that takes more than a few minutes will get logged and tracked, and potentially wind up on a bill. If you are looking to avoid an invoice, I would try to keep it under 10 minutes at most, and preferably under 5.

That said,the partner/attorney in charge will use their discretion to write off or bill that time... and it really depends on how much time you are eating up vs. how much business you are giving them (or how much they like you).

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby bottlecap » Sun May 21, 2017 7:13 am

Incendiary wrote:I don't have many facts to offer because I'm not fully apprised of the situation. All I know is an invoice was received with a bill for 0.5 hours for "respond to client question regsading (sic) payment of fees."


It sounds like whomever received this bill is a problem client. For a lawyer to include it in a bill and to describe it like that means that the lawyer is a) "dis-incentivizing" the client from taking up more of his/her time and b) not afraid to defend the invoice.

A half-hour conversation about a bill is likely an "Explain to me exactly what you did because I don't want to pay this (whole) bill" call from a problem client. I bet after the conversation, the previous invoice was unchanged and the client accepted it. Now what does the lawyer do to get back that half-hour of his day?

Many people are disrespectful of a lawyer's time, which is his stock in trade. For all the negative stereotypes about lawyers, clients can be much worse. You see it on this site even. People will buy a $4,000 bicycle, are glad to pay $1,000 per month for health insurance they are unlikely to use, but they are loathe to spend $600 for an estate plan once or twice in their life.

At least this lawyer was honest about what he was billing for. He and his staff should learn to spell/type/proofread, though.

JT

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby EddyB » Sun May 21, 2017 8:01 am

Smorgasbord wrote:To whom were the fees paid? Patent law is my day job and I routinely bill for questions related to US Patent Office fees.


I sometimes get after-the-fact questions from my clients to allow them to allocate my bill to their clients. For a single charge, I wouldn't bill for that. For scores of charges by several billers after the conclusion of a multi-month project? I probably would bill it.

Like Smorgasbord's example, I don't think we can presume that "asking about fees" means disputing fees.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby oktax » Sun May 21, 2017 8:37 am

I see this as discretionary. If this was a short, one off question I wouldn't bill for it. However, a half hour conversation is something I'd at least consider writing down and let the billing attorney sort out. In any event, I'd suspect that more was discussed in a half hour than just a question about a bill, which may justify the charge.

I should also mention that the fact that the moderators are allowing this thread to turn into one for lawyer bashing is frustrating. We can't discuss something as innocuous as potential legislative changes here, but we can have threads dedicated to negative generalizations about an entire profession? There's something wrong with that.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby bsteiner » Sun May 21, 2017 8:42 am

bottlecap wrote:...
Many people are disrespectful of a lawyer's time, which is his stock in trade. For all the negative stereotypes about lawyers, clients can be much worse. You see it on this site even. People will buy a $4,000 bicycle, are glad to pay $1,000 per month for health insurance they are unlikely to use, but they are loathe to spend $600 for an estate plan once or twice in their life. ...


You may be able to get a basic Will for $600 but you can't get an estate plan for $600. If you want an estate plan, or a Will that fits your situation, it will take $600 worth of time (and usually more than $600 worth of time) at the first meeting to ascertain the facts and the client's objectives, and to develop the plan, before doing any drafting.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby TinkerPDX » Sun May 21, 2017 9:00 am

I bill for time spent solving client problems/advancing client objectives at a client's request. Whether this lawyer was doing that can't be said from the limited information you provided.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby TinkerPDX » Sun May 21, 2017 9:01 am

Jonathan wrote:There are plenty of wonderful lawyers in this world. But, broadly, lawyers have earned their reputation.

No sense in arguing. One strategy: "Of course, I'm happy to pay your bill, in full and on time. As soon as I receive it, I'll leave a review for you online." 8-)

Best site for advice about legal fees: http://devilsadvocate.com

Be sure to review their sample retainer agreement. Once lawyers know that you're savvy about billing, they're less likely to hustle you. Same deal if you're a hobby car enthusiast; you're less likely to get ripped off by a mechanic.


Website appears to have been made in 1993 when the organization was founded, and their civilian's guide to lawyers blog appears to be inactive. Interesting concept though - hire lawyers to advise you on how to keep your legal fees in check - are they still active?

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby bottlecap » Sun May 21, 2017 9:07 am

bsteiner wrote:
bottlecap wrote:...
Many people are disrespectful of a lawyer's time, which is his stock in trade. For all the negative stereotypes about lawyers, clients can be much worse. You see it on this site even. People will buy a $4,000 bicycle, are glad to pay $1,000 per month for health insurance they are unlikely to use, but they are loathe to spend $600 for an estate plan once or twice in their life. ...


You may be able to get a basic Will for $600 but you can't get an estate plan for $600. If you want an estate plan, or a Will that fits your situation, it will take $600 worth of time (and usually more than $600 worth of time) at the first meeting to ascertain the facts and the client's objectives, and to develop the plan, before doing any drafting.


I agree.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Jonathan » Sun May 21, 2017 1:34 pm

TinkerPDX wrote:Website appears to have been made in 1993 when the organization was founded, and their civilian's guide to lawyers blog appears to be inactive. Interesting concept though - hire lawyers to advise you on how to keep your legal fees in check - are they still active?


I believe so. Over the years, this type of old-school website actually appears increasingly credible to me. I'm posting on one right now. :wink:

Also, the guy who runs it - the "Devil's Advocate" himself, is John Toothman, a Harvard JD who literally "wrote the book" on ethical legal billing. Highly credentialed - http://www.devilsadvocate.com/bios.html - which I think makes up for a broken link or two on his site.

For the record, great legal advice, even at $500/hour or more, is one of the best bargains in the business world, and can easily save you millions of dollars. I have found that simply mentioning the existence of DevilsAdvocate.com does wonders for setting the stage for a fair attorney/client relationship. Once I feel that a lawyer is treating me fairly, I make it a point to pay his or her bills very rapidly - usually within 24 hours.

In addition to requesting a budget up-front, I'll always confirm the exact timekeepers. I've found that it's EXTREMELY common for attorneys to frontload their name and reputation, and then push off the work to a younger and less-experienced attorney.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby iamlucky13 » Mon May 22, 2017 1:45 am

If the question about fees was actually about expected fees related to a specific action, which requires some consideration of the details in order to determine how much work the case will likely entail, it quite possibly was treated as an initial consultation.

It is quite common, as far as I know, to charge for initial consultations, although once the attorney realized the question was more than "what's your standard hourly rate?" they should have informed the prospective client they would need to bill for time if they wanted further discussion of the matter.

Others might provide a specific amount of time for an initial consultation for free, although I assume they may end the consultation early if there is clearly not a case or the prospective client is just fishing for free advice.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby spectec » Mon May 22, 2017 4:16 am

Conversation between a potential client and attorney (or accountant):
C: "Do you charge an hourly fee to answer a few simple questions"
A: "No, I charge by the question. The answer to the first question is free. After that, there's a charge for each question. "
C: "How much is the charge?"
D: "$250 each. What's your next question?"
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alfaspider
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby alfaspider » Mon May 22, 2017 7:39 am

Things can vary quite a bit by engagement, but as a frequent corporate client, I would contest a bill that includes bill preparation or fee discussions as a line item. However, a corporate client tends to have a bit more leverage in such discussions. Nevertheless, I suspect few attorneys are willing to go though collections process about an item like that. Not worth their time.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Pretzel lover » Tue May 23, 2017 7:53 am

I had caught a mistake that an estate attorney's secretary made on some documents. He billed me for time to make the correction.

I didn't call him to complain since I didn't want to be billed for some more time concerning this mistake. I just didn't use him after that.

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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby AZAttorney11 » Tue May 23, 2017 8:14 am

Jonathan wrote:I've found that it's EXTREMELY common for attorneys to frontload their name and reputation, and then push off the work to a younger and less-experienced attorney.


There's a legitimate reason for that. There are some tasks that a junior lawyer can complete far more efficiently than a senior partner. Not everything requires the $500, $750, or $1,000 an hour lawyer. Believe it or not, the partner managing your file might be looking out for your best interests and getting the work done at a more competitive price.

AZAttorney11
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby AZAttorney11 » Tue May 23, 2017 8:16 am

Jonathan wrote:Best site for advice about legal fees: http://devilsadvocate.com

Be sure to review their sample retainer agreement. Once lawyers know that you're savvy about billing, they're less likely to hustle you. Same deal if you're a hobby car enthusiast; you're less likely to get ripped off by a mechanic.


I don't know of any lawyers out to hustle their clients. And I certainly don't think telling them that you read something on devilsadvocate.com is going to change how they treat you (you're giving the impact that website has on the legal profession FAR too much credit).

You must've had some particularly awful experiences dealing with attorneys.

LarryAllen
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Location: State of Confusion

Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby LarryAllen » Tue May 23, 2017 8:23 am

In my opinion a reasonably street-smart lawyer would not charge for such communications. However, not all lawyers have practical street-smarts but instead rely on their book skills. To me it's a no-brainer to not charge for preparation of fee agreement, questions about billing practices, questions about a specific bill, etc.... To each his own....

Oh ya, and if called on it I would think most, but again not all, lawyers would wipe off the charge. Most lawyers don't want to do anything that might get them in trouble with the State Bar regardless of their personal ethical barometer.

Gropes & Ray
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby Gropes & Ray » Tue May 23, 2017 10:33 am

AZAttorney11 wrote:
Jonathan wrote:I've found that it's EXTREMELY common for attorneys to frontload their name and reputation, and then push off the work to a younger and less-experienced attorney.


There's a legitimate reason for that. There are some tasks that a junior lawyer can complete far more efficiently than a senior partner. Not everything requires the $500, $750, or $1,000 an hour lawyer. Believe it or not, the partner managing your file might be looking out for your best interests and getting the work done at a more competitive price.


And in some situations, it would be unethical not to use an associate.

PVW
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Re: Lawyers charging for asking about fees

Postby PVW » Tue May 23, 2017 12:37 pm

bluebirdy wrote:I was once billed for 15 minutes of time ($90) for a lawyer sending me a bill... but the bill had nothing on it except that 15 minutes of time for sending me that bill (for no services provided; hadn't talked to him in months). Charged to send me a bill for nothing else but the act of sending an otherwise blank bill... I ended the relationship and got my retainer back.


I once got a ticket (for driving somewhere that I shouldn't have) and the only penalty was to pay the court fees for processing the violation.


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