Here is the process that I go through for opening a file. I meet or speak with the client on the phone. If we both decide we want to work together then Catherine, my administrative assistant will open a file. When we open a file my administrative assistant Catherine sends out a written retainer agreement. This is the document by which I am hired. It sets out in significant detail how things work. Catherine will also get a monetary retainer from the client. The amount of the retainer depends on what work I will be completing for the client. My standard retainer is $1,000.00. This goes into my trust account. If I send a bill for $200.00 then $200.00 is transferred from the trust funds into my general account.

I am the same as everyone else. I need money to make my world go around - so just like everyone else, I need to be paid. That is reality of operating a small business.

However, we are reasonable people. My clients are regular people. I know that some clients do not have a lot of extra money laying around to pay lawyers. We will work with you on this front. All we ask is that you be open and honest with us. We can work out a solution.

My hourly rate depends on the type of work that I do and the file. As noted in the process section on occasion we can offer a flat rate.

I offer a half-hour free telephone consultation so if you have questions or comments or want to chat then give me a call or send me an email. I hope we can work together to resolve your legal issues.

We offer several services....

  1. First, there is independent legal advice or I.L.A. If parties mediate with another mediator then the mediator will recommend that the client review the completed agreement with a lawyer. I offer this service. Sometimes, clients will want to retain me before the mediation so that they can attend mediation as an educated consumer.
  2. Second, we prepare separation agreements when the client has reached an agreement in principle with his or her spouse. I often get calls from a client saying that he or she has spoken with his or her spouse and they agree on the terms of a separation agreement. I go through the details with them to ensure nothing has been missed. Rachel, my legal assistant gets further information off of them. We then prepare a draft separation agreement. The client and I meet to review the agreement. The benefit of this approach is that we save a step - instead of meeting to discuss the terms of an agreement then draft the agreement and have another meeting to review the draft, we have an agreement in front of us to review at our first meeting. We can offer you a flat-rate fee for this service. If you tell me the terms of the deal then I can give you a quote. The key is that the client and his or her spouse must have pretty well reached an agreement in principle.
  3. Third, there is an uncontested divorce. We offer a flat rate for this service. This is just for the divorce, not the separation agreement. Depending on the issues usually it is recommended to get a separation agreement in place then deal with the divorce. As noted under the discussion of the divorce the divorce in and of itself is not a really important legal issue - it just means you are not married anymore. The most important legal document on relationship breakdown is the separation agreement not the divorce.
  4. Fourth, there is the hourly rate. This is the most common way lawyers are retained. I understand that this is not a particularly comfortable way for clients to proceed. It is like me going to my car mechanic and him saying ‘I do not know what is wrong with it, how much it is going to be to fix it so I will have to get back to you on that’.

    I am a progressive thinking lawyer so I am always looking at new ways of doing things. If you have some ideas let me know. I feel you can always learn from clients.

    The difficultly in family law is that it is difficult to predict how things will go. Remember, the client is in control. He or she controls the decision making and the purse strings. It is important as we go though a file to constantly evaluate the issues and do a cost-benefit analysis.

    See the section on process. I can be retained as a mediator, collaborative family law (C.F.L.) lawyer, as a non-C.F.L. lawyer to negotiate with the other side, or as a lawyer to attend court. The fee is based on the hourly rate.

  5. Fifth, I act as a consultant. To date I have based this on the hourly rate. The idea is that I am not officially known to the world at large as "your lawyer". For example, let us say that your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer is very difficult. We know that if I am "on the record" that I will be receiving a lot of letters and emails which will increase the billable time. So, I do not go "on the record". Rather the client communicates with the lawyer and the client and I communicate when needed. If we agree it is needed then at some appropriate time I can go "on the record".

I offer this service for court applications also. The paperwork associated with a court application can be overwhelming. For some files the client goes to court on his or her own. I meet with the client to ensure the paperwork is completed properly and I discuss how the court system works. This can work well in what we call "variation proceedings" e.g. there is a separation agreement or previous order in place but one or two things need to be changed.

I also offer a free one-half hour, telephone consultation so to see which option is most appropriate for your situation so give me a call.