MY CLIENTS DESERVE TRANSPARENCY
Most attorneys do not publicly share their fees. I do because I believe my clients deserve to understand what they are paying for, why it costs what it does, and what they can expect to receive for their money.
If your case is within my practice area I may offer you a free “no obligation” 60-minute consultation.
We will set up a time to talk in person. I do not offer free consultations over the telephone.
At first, I’ll get some basic information from you. Then I’ll listen to you as you describe your legal situation and your goals. Then, after checking to see if I have any potential conflicts of interest, and after I have done some basic legal research – I will present you will a client engagement letter – if I decide to take your case.
If I have a conflict of interest, or I decide not to take your case, I will send you a letter stating the reason(s) why I didn’t take your case.
WE’LL TALK ABOUT OUR DUTIES TO EACH OTHER
At the very beginning of ALL my attorney-client relationships, I present my clients with a client engagement letter tailored to their legal situation. I use these letters to help prevent disputes between us, and so we can spell out each other’s responsibilities in detail. This letter helps us both understand the nature of the attorney-client relationship we hope to form. It also describes the scope of the legal representation I will provide to you, and the fees and expenses you are expected to pay. The letter also describes the conditions under which either of us may terminate our attorney-client relationship. Some letters are as long as five or six pages and these are essentially a contract that we make between us.
I ONLY OFFER LIMITED-SCOPE REPRESENTATIONS
All of my attorney-client relationships are limited scope representations. This means I will act as your attorney only for the issue(s) we agreed upon in the client engagement letter. Thus, if you hire me to work on your zoning appeal, you’ll need to talk with me, and get my agreement, before you can expect me to handle another legal matter for you.
I DO NOT OFFER ALTERNATIVE FEE ARRANGEMENTS
I don’t take cases on a contingency basis, and I don’t offer fixed prices for a particular type of case.
Contingency fees are where some attorneys ask for a fixed percentage of your award – but only if they win. That may sound great, but most of the cases I take involve solving problems, not getting jury awards.
Fixed price fees are where some attorney’s charge a set fee for something like a commercial lease review. The problem there is the attorney is incentivised to only put so much time into a client’s case. And if your lease happens to need extra attention, you may not get it.
Communications between us need to flow both ways. I’m going to need information and documents from you. Most people hate paperwork and looking through their files, but if you have a legal situation please understand that I’m going to place some demands on you to produce those items I need to advance your case. Cases are often won by the side that came to the table the most prepared.
MY 24 HOUR RESPONSE GUARANTEE
If you become a client you are going to have questions, and there are times you’ll need a legal process, or the reasoning behind my advice explained. I am good at communicating with my clients. This is why I guarantee my clients that I will return your call, text, or email within 24-hours.
Now, we all know that no guarantee is good unless there is a duty on the seller’s part to back up their words. Here is what I do: I’ll take an hour of my fee off of your bill if I can’t get back to you within 24 hours of your first request.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ll have an answer for you within 24 hours. But it does mean that I will respond to you, acknowledge that you made contact with me, and depending on the situation, I may be able to answer your question in my response. However, there are going to be times I can’t because things just don’t work that way.
If I can’t answer your question in my response, I’ll tell you when I should have an answer to you. And no, sending me 200 texts in a 24 hour period will not earn you a $30,000 check.
Please also realize that I charge my normal rate for taking your phone calls and responding to your emails. You can lower your expenses by avoiding needless chit-chat and by being as brief as possible. And, on the off chance that we do wander into a conversational topic that doesn’t pertain to your case – I won’t bill you for that time.
MY LEGAL FEES
- I charge $175 per hour for my time as an attorney.
HOW WE BILL FOR OUR TIME
- I only charge for the time we are actively working on your legal issue.
- Some law offices charge in six-minute increments. I don’t because I don’t think that’s fair.
- I record our attorney and staff time down to the minute in a spreadsheet.
- In that spreadsheet I make short notes detailing what we were doing to advance your case.
- It takes us about 5 seconds to log out of one case and into the next, so you aren’t going to be paying for a lot of administrative overhead.
- Your bill will be accurate, and it will describe in detail the services I rendered to you.
OTHER FEES & EXPENSES
- I will charge you for all of the costs I incur as I provide you legal services.
- These expenses include, but are not limited to, court filing fees, printing, shipping, exhibit preparation, travel, deposition services, court reporter services, and sometimes even parking.
- I will ask you for your consent before I commit you to paying for services for your case that will cost you extra.
- Each letter mailed by the Law Office incurs a $5.00 charge, plus any additional expenses beyond that of a first class stamp.
A DEPOSIT IS REQUIRED BEFORE WE WILL START
- You are required to put a deposit down of at least 30% of our estimated total fee or $1000.00 – whichever is greater – towards the payment of your estimated legal fees before I establish an attorney-client relationship.
- I don’t offer credit, and I require your client account maintain a positive balance at all times.
YOUR CLIENT ACCOUNT
- The Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct (and simple fairness) require that I (the Law Office of Christopher W Dunn) post your deposit into a client trust account (IOLTA Account).
- The funds I deposit in the IOLTA account are only withdrawn by the Law Office attorney AFTER I have earned the fees or paid for an expense. And I only withdraw from your account after you have been given ample time to challenge any of the listed charges. Ample time is two weeks from the date of the invoice.
- Once your case is finished, and if your case didn’t exhaust the amount of fees in your IOLTA account, I refund the remaining balance to you; often in a week or two.
- I won’t pad your bill just to empty your account.
- Under certain circumstances, like if your case takes a significant portion of our available staff resources, I (the Law Office of Christopher W Dunn) may require additional fees be deposited to your IOLTA account, in advance of those I estimate will be needed to continue my legal representation for you.
- If you do not make the required deposit, and the funds in your client account have been exhausted, I (the Law Office of Christopher W Dunn) may, at its sole discretion, refuse to provide additional legal representation, and I may withdraw as your legal counsel.
- Upon request, I will promptly render a full accounting regarding such fees and property.
What I do is I work hard, I communicate, and I do what I promise you I will do. I’m candid with my clients, and I offer competent and affordable legal representation in return for your hard-earned dollar. That’s kind of old-fashioned, but it’s my law practice and that is the way I do business.