Type of Service
In retaining the Law Offices of Cramb & Marling to represent you, you are purchasing a service rather than a product. A service renders benefits, however, those benefits may not be tangible at first. Even though a service may be provided, the ultimate desired result may or may not occur. This is because we cannot control all of the factors involved in handling your legal matter. If all factors were completely under control, it would then be possible to guarantee a desirable result. However, since that is not possible, the attorney devotes to you his time, knowledge and experience, and for that, of course, he, like any other business, must charge a fee.
A product, on the other hand, is tangible. It is fairly easy to determine the value of the product.
The purpose for purchasing legal services is to solve a problem or accomplish a desired result. Accordingly, your monies are used to employ the attorney, staff members, paralegals, office assistants, secretaries and physical equipment in order to do their best to meet your desired goal. The fee includes time, energy, professional judgment, experience and expertise in a particular area. The fee also includes business overhead expenses. This includes, but is not limited to, attorneys, legal assistants or paralegals; and in some cases, investigators, secretaries, receptionists, bookkeepers, clerks, etc. In addition, most modern law offices, in order to function and provide professional services, have heavy capital expenses such as law libraries, computers or word processing machines, copy machines, typewriters, office furniture and equipment, file cabinets and file storage equipment in order to keep up with the many matters handled by the firm.
When you purchase legal services, you are, therefore, hiring a team of highly trained professionals and asking them to attempt to solve your problem.
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What are the factors in determining an attorney's fee? Most attorneys take the following factors into consideration in setting their fees:
• The type of case involved - whether it is a simple or routine matter, or whether it is complex,
highly technical matter
• The urgency of the matter, the need for overtime work, etc. to accomplish the desired goal
• Whether taking this matter will prelude the acceptance of other employment
• The total amount of time involved - can a matter be delegated to staff personnel, such as
paralegals or secretaries or must all of the time be spent by the attorney
• The experience and qualifications of the attorney
• The results obtained or to be obtained
• The customary fees charged in this area
• Additional costs involved, if any, such as the amount of secretarial time, and other expenses, etc.
Fees are established through the exercise of judgment on each individual matter after considering a number of factors including the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the issues involved, the skill required to perform the legal services properly, time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances, the experience, reputation and ability of the attorneys performing services, the amount involved and the results obtained through our services, the likelihood that such employment will preclude other employment, the fee customarily charged in this locality by others for similar services and the nature and length of our relationship with the client. Generally, our objective of charging a reasonable fee for our services is achieved through maintaining accurate records as to the time spent by each attorney and legal assistant and then billing for that time in accordance with the range of hourly rates we have established based upon the individual attorneys and legal assistants experience and level of expertise. Fees derived from these calculations may be modified when we take into consideration other factors involved that are discussed above.
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Type of Fee
The type of fee to be charged depends on the nature and type of legal problem you have. The fee may be a flat fee, such as a one-time payment to cover all the fees for the matter desired, such as forming a corporation, bankruptcy or divorce. On the other hand, the fee may be based upon an hourly charge for all of the time that the attorney spends on your particular matter. In some cases, as allowed by law, the attorney may charge a percentage of the monies awarded. This is called a contingency fee arrangement. A contingency fee is frequently charged in the following areas:
• General Tort Claims
• Personal Injury
• Medical Malpractice
Attorneys do not take defense cases on a contingency basis.
The following information within this document outlines fees based upon our standard hourly rate plus reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses (only incurred on your behalf). These fees are more fully set forth in a signed contract, and a copy of that contract will always be given to you for your files.
Attorney's fees, unfortunately, are not profit as some clients assume. Fees are considered gross income from which numerous expenses are paid for the operation of the law office business. As with all businesses, sometimes expenses exceed income and the attorneys must manage the cash flow in a professional and business-like manner.
Once you have elected to retain the Law Offices of Cramb & Marling, L.L.P. to represent you in a cause of action, you will sign a contract. As indicated in that contract, we will be billing (the attorney's) time at an agreed upon rate per hour, plus reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, in the event the attorney's legal assistants or paralegals perform services on your behalf in the case in which the attorney does not become directly involved, the paralegal's time will be billed at the rate from $90.00 to $150 per hour.
Additionally, in most cases, you must agree to keep and maintain at all times in the law office escrow (trust) account a sum of money known as a retainer fee. The attorneys will set the retainer fee amount on a case-by-case basis at the time they are retained. All attorney's fees and out-of-pocket expenses and other billing, which will be invoiced to you monthly, incurred on your behalf for services rendered, will be withdrawn at the end of each month from the balance in your escrow account. You will receive a bill each month for said amounts and will be expected to keep current at all times the agreed upon escrow balance in the law office escrow account. This is to assure that sufficient funds come at all times, on hand to the attorney's fees and expenses associated with the proper representation of your interest by the attorneys retained and to assure that substantial indebtedness does not accrue between this law office and you, which could make continued representation of your interests untenable.
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Time and Billing
Attorneys and office staff keep their time while working for a client. Time record notations are made for any and all work performed, including but not limited to office conferences, legal research, preparations of legal instruments, telephone and personal conferences, trips to and from the office to the courthouse or client's office, and any other billable legal services. Our time charges do not include, and the client is responsible for, out-of-pocket expenses, including but not limited to, investigator's fees, filing fees, postage, copy charges at the rate of $0.25 per page, messenger services, travel expenses, including $0.22 per mile for automobile travel, subpoena fees and deposition and witness fees, court reporter charges, etc.
We prepare our statements during the last week of each month; the statements will reflect that month's charges and all statements must be paid within ten (10) days of the date that the statement is sent to you.
When a retainer fee is required under the Attorney Employment Agreement, you understand that such fees have been deposited into a special interest bearing escrow account maintained by the law office for such fees. Under order from the Supreme Court of Texas all interest earned on such funds must be paid over to the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, As stated, the law office will withdraw from your escrow account monies to reimburse it for its fees expended to date, as well as for out-of-pocket expenses. You are expected to remit, at least monthly, into the escrow account, sufficient monies to keep the account at the specified retainer fee levels at all times.
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Many of our legal matters can be handled by telephone or by mail in order to avoid numerous personal trips to and from the office. We feel it is more productive to handle routine matters by telephone as opposed to personal visits, since it saves each of us time. A charge will be made for telephone calls, e-mails and letters.
In the event you need to meet personally with the attorney or staff member, please feel free to do so. Simply make an appointment with the secretary, who will schedule an appropriate time on the attorney's calendar. Most court proceedings are held in the morning, so accordingly the most convenient time for the attorney is in the afternoon. Attorneys typically are unable to return phone calls except for one or twice during the day. Please do not feel offended if your phone calls are not returned immediately.
In order to do the work requested, attorneys need a substantial amount of time where they are free from any type of interruptions or distractions. This keeps your bill lower because the attorney can accomplish much more work if he is uninterrupted.
Accordingly, when you call and the secretary says that the attorney is in conference with a client or working on a matter, please leave your name, phone number and a brief statement to the secretary as to the purpose of your call. The attorney will do his best to contact you as soon as possible.
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Notice to Clients
The State Bar of Texas requires that each attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Texas make the following notification of rights to each of his clients.
The State Bar of Texas investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct committed by Texas attorneys. Although not every complaint against or dispute with a lawyer involves professional misconduct, the State Bar Officer of General Counsel will provide you with information about how to file a complaint. For more information, please call 1-800-932-1900. This is a toll-free phone call.
The Lawyers Creed, which all lawyers licensed to practice law in the State of Texas must follow. It will govern all of our activities during the course of a litigation. A copy is available upon request.
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To contact, call (817) 282-0281, or send an email to the
Law Offices of Cramb & Marling