Sometimes the first stage is the only stage
In some types of cases, the first fee is ALL you will EVER pay to complete your matter.
These are criminal defense, orders of protection, appeals, contract reviews, administrative agency matters, real estate transactions, estate and Medicaid Planning and Business Planning.
When do we bill in stages?
We bill in stages for certain types of cases because it is impossible to predict at the beginning precisely what services will be needed in the case. These are any family related matters such as guardianships, adoptions, divorce, custody, child support and contempt. Also, civil and real estate litigation and probate matters are billed in stages.
“First stage,” “second stage,” and “final Stage” are phrases that we coined in our office to clearly outline what services are in included in the initial fee and when additional fees may apply.
The First Stage
Simply, First Stage is everything we must do – from beginning to end – to resolve the matter if we do not have to go a contested hearing or engage in formal discovery.
Specifically, First Stage includes:
- Intake process – fact gathering from client, creating file, copying documents, signing client agreement, setting up payment plan, etc.
- Working with you to determine all necessary facts if we don’t gather them in intake,
- All communication with you – in person, phone, and email,
- All advice and counsel related to any issue in the case, including a thorough cost-benefit analysis of all legal options, likely results, what we would do if it were our matter to achieve the most economical and reasonable resolution,
- Developing and implementing a legal strategy,
- Drafting and filing the initial pleading or responding to the initial pleading,
- effecting service through the standard process server if we represent the moving party,
- Negotiations for settlement,
- All communication with the court, other attorneys, opposing party
More than half of cases will settle by agreement without engaging in any motions beyond the initial pleading and response. This is the first stage of litigation.
If we or the opposing party files any motions or pushes the case past this initial first stage, then additional fees apply a la carte style depending on what service is needed.
Culminating in a resolution
About 60% of cases settle in the First Stage, so 60% of our clients never pay more than the initial fee quoted.