Our fees are competitive with other Sonoma County law firms, but they vary depending on a number of factors. We frequently charge a flat fee for a simple will or Trust, and flat fee arrangements are occasionally appropriate for certain business matters, such as creating a corporation or limited liability company. We can evaluate whether your project is appropriate for flat fee billing after a brief discussion of the scope of work required.
Most projects are billed at hourly rates in 1/10th of hour increments. Attorney rates range from $225 to $400 per hour, and the amount of time required varies by the complexity of the work. We generally bill for costs also, for example court costs, witness fees, copying, and other items.
We occasionally work on a contingency basis so that fees are only charged if we achieve a successful result and in those cases, the fees are negotiated between us and our clients. We discuss the fee arrangement with you at the beginning so you can make an informed decision and won’t be surprised.
When do I pay?
We will send you a bill each month so you can see the work we did for you, and you would pay us each month after reviewing the bill. If you’ve previously given us a retainer, we draw on that deposit each month.
What is a retainer and do you require clients to pay in advance?
A retainer is a deposit of money placed into our firm’s trust account. We frequently require this deposit, especially when we anticipate doing a lot of work and we don’t have a pre-existing attorney-client relationship. Usually, if we have taken a deposit, we use those funds each month to pay for services we perform. If we use all the money but aren’t done with your work, we frequently require an additional deposit. If we complete our work and have not used all the money held in trust for you, we will return it to you.
Do you give a free consultation/initial visit?
Sometimes. This varies from attorney to attorney and depends upon the subject matter in question. Although we do not give free legal advice to non-clients over the telephone, we are able to determine through a quick phone conversation if a face to face meeting might be productive, and also answer questions you have to help you determine if you want us to help.
How do I find out the attorneys’ specialties?
You can start by reviewing the description of their practice. Then, ask the potential attorney who you’re interested in working with any questions you want to help you make the decision. It’s important that you have confidence in your attorney and that you are comfortable with their experience, skill and temperament.
Are there any legal issues that you don’t handle?
A few. We don’t handle criminal law, divorce or debtor bankruptcy. However, we know many attorneys, so if we can’t help you with these or any other matters, we can generally give you a referral.
How do I make an appointment?
Start by calling our receptionist (707-545-4910) and give a brief description of your problem. The receptionist will forward you to an attorney or secretary who can take initial information about the problem (including names of adverse parties/possible opponents so we can check for and avoid conflicts of interest—we may not be able to help you with a problem against an existing or former client). After collecting this information, we can evaluate whether we can help. If an appointment is the next step, it will be scheduled by the appropriate attorney or their secretary.
What do I need to bring to my estate planning appointment?
First and foremost, bring yourself. It is more important to begin the estate planning process than to delay your appointment in order to gather bank statements or title records. But, if you have a chance, it is helpful to bring: (1) complete names of those individuals or organizations that you plan to include as beneficiaries of your estate; (2) names and addresses of those individuals or professionals that you want to manage your financial or personal care decisions in the event of your incapacity or death; and (3) information about your assets (such as approximate values and copies of deeds for any real property you own and approximate balances in bank or investment accounts).
You can also ask the secretary of the attorney who you’ll be meeting with to tell you other items to bring to the meeting, or to send any materials you may need to review in advance.
Will our discussions be confidential?
Once we begin to represent you, our communications are protected by an attorney-client privilege and we will not tell any person outside our firm what we have discussed with you without your consent.