MrBobcat wrote: ↑Sun Nov 24, 2019 12:38 pm
petulant wrote: ↑Sun Nov 24, 2019 11:27 am
It seems fairly unprofessional for the attorney to let you get this far without defining the billing arrangement and scope of representation. The fact that you have to ask this question based on the circumstances is not good. However, given the small amount involved of around $150, I think the advice to request a 1-2 page written, signed copy of his legal opinion and an invoice for the bill, then paying it, is the wisest course of action.
People seem to expect a lot for $150. Depending on the area $150 represents 1/2hr to 3/4hr of billable time, not to mention a small one off job like this is really not even appealing in the first place. That being said the attorney probably should have just told the OP up front the minimum would be $XXX and could go up to $XXX depending upon the amount of work/research/follow up involved. I seriously doubt the attorney would have even entertained taking on the OP if he hadn't been referred by his client.
I agree that the lawyer was probably willing to help the client because of the referral from the developer client, who's probably an important client given that he/she is a developer. It costs more than $150 to onboard a new client since it requires a conflict check, assigning a client number, setting up a billing account, setting up a number in the document system, opening a file, and perhaps doing a new client memo.
If the lawyer is a tax lawyer and is the relationship attorney for the developer, his/her billing rate is probably such that $150 is much less than 1/2 hour of his/her time.
For the above reasons, I probably wouldn't have bothered sending a bill for what was probably 0.3 hour of work (assuming 0.1 hour for each of the two phone calls and 0.1 hour for reviewing the documents).
But if I were the client I would have paid the bill. (Of course, in my case, there are enough lawyers and accountants that I've helped as a courtesy over the years that I could call upon to help me on small things as a courtesy.)
mcraepat9 wrote: ↑Sun Nov 24, 2019 1:33 pm
I’ve seen a lot of references here to written legal opinions and getting them for your $150.
The concept of a formal written legal opinion is distinct from just giving legal advice. If you ask for a written opinion that you would “rely on” if some adverse outcome occurs, you will pay far more than $150 for it (many firms in my jurisdiction wouldn’t issue a formal legal opinion for anything less than $10,000). Most legal malpractice insurance has additional riders/costs/limitations when issuing written legal opinions.
Bottomline, this is not just the lawyer giving you a summary of what legal work was done for you. The legal opinion comes with unique risks to the lawyer issuing it so be prepared to pay for it.
To do an opinion you have to review the documents, research the law (even if you're confident you know it), and write the opinion applying the law to the facts. In my firm a second lawyer has to review it (and the second one has to be a senior person). I think this one could be done for less than the figure you mentioned, but not for a 3-figure amount.
Of course, most things don't require legal opinions. We sometimes have to do them for lenders when trusts are giving mortgages on real property, or when trusts are guaranteeing loans. We also sometimes have to do them for IRA custodians when we're doing a spousal rollover where the spouse isn't the named beneficiary.