Don’t Wait to Hire an Attorney as a “Last Resort”
Hiring an attorney can feel like a huge step. Before deciding to hire an attorney, people typically wait until the situation gets severe, try to work things out themselves, and even take to the internet to learn as much as they can -- all to avoid hiring a professional. However, hiring an attorney doesn’t have to feel so momentous. In fact, your lawyer can be your greatest resource, advocate, and representative long before circumstances reach “last resort” territory.
There are a couple of fears that we know non-lawyers harbor about the legal profession. While we can’t speak on behalf of the entire legal profession (lawyer jokes exist for a reason), we do want to address specifically what it is like to work with the attorneys at Wakefield Law.
We don’t start “the clock” the minute we get on the phone
One of the most common jokes out there about lawyers is that they are always “on the clock.” The common story is that attorneys are looking for every way to get money out of their clients and they “start the clock” the minute they get on the phone or answer an email. We’ve written about this before, but that’s just not how we do things here at Wakefield Law. We find that our job is much easier and we can get much better results for our clients when communication is open and honest. That’s why we never charge for initial phone consultations, and we only use hourly billing in certain practice areas. In the majority of our legal work, we charge either flat fees (for estate planning work) or contingency-based billing (for most collection and personal injury matters).
You don’t have to “sign your life away” to get professional, experienced legal services
This one is super important to us. If you’ve ever met with an attorney before, you know that they can’t start giving you legal advice until you’ve signed an engagement letter and formally retained them as your legal counsel. At Wakefield Law, that basic process is no different (although we are willing to consult with you on your legal matter first, to determine whether we are a good fit to help you). However, we have spent thirty years whittling down and simplifying our engagement letter. Why? Because we believe an open, honest attorney-client relationship is based on trust. So, no fifteen page legal agreement filled with complicated legalese and hidden terms. Instead, our engagement letter is typically one page (sometimes two) and is written in plain, simple English. We also take the time on the phone or in person to walk our clients through our engagement letter to make sure that they completely understand how and when they will be charged and what they can expect out of our professional relationship.
Want to take a sneak peek? Here’s what’s included in our typical engagement letter:
● Your name and contact information
● Our firm name and contact information
● A brief summary of the matter for which we will provide legal advice
● A brief summary of the parameters of the legal work we will do
● If need be, a specific statement outlining what legal work is outside of the scope of our current agreement
● A brief description of how we will charge for legal services. If the case is being taken on a contingency basis, we typically require a cost fund in advance to pay for things like court costs and filing fees. In the letter, we confirm the percentage that our firm will earn on any monies collected on your behalf. If the case will be handled on an hourly basis, we will outline our hourly billing rate, provide information about how and when you are “on the clock,” and require a retainer amount, which we will have agreed upon in advance. Finally, if the matter is to be handled on a flat fee basis (we use flat fee for estate planning services), we will state the cost of the full scope of services and require half of the total cost of the services at the time of engagement.
● A list of what information and documentation we need from you to be able to start our work.
That’s it! At Wakefield Law, we want to be totally transparent about what it’s like to work with us and what to expect in terms of cost. We never want people who need an attorney to put off talking to a professional or attempt to resolve complex legal matters themselves because they are worried about what working with an attorney means. Our mission is to provide accessible, understandable, and fair legal services. If you have been thinking about hiring an attorney in the areas of personal injury, landlord representation, business or personal collections, or estate planning, feel free to reach out to us at 703-771-9740. Like always, there will be no charge to speak with an attorney about your matter, and, if you do decide to hire us, we will make sure you feel comfortable and confident in your legal process every step of the way.