Que:Do I need an attorney?
A.If you have to ask, then yes! Lawyers almost never represent themselves and with good reason: we know the law, the courtroom, the dynamics, how the system works- and we are very bad at being clients or defendants with all that knowledge. Some cases are fairly simple- no kids, no marital property, no name change, etc- no problem! Almost no cases are that simple. I’ve had 1. ONE. If you think you can handle the matter by yourself, I strongly encourage you to consider the worst case scenario of events that could occur should you not handle your matter in the correct form or fashion. In family matters that can be losing your house, your kids, your retirement- everything. Further, if the divorce is not done correctly you could accidentally become a bigamist- which is a felony offense. That is not something I would risk handling by myself. In criminal cases you could lose your liberty and freedoms and in the most extreme of cases, your life. In cases of traffic tickets, your worst case scenario may likely be some jail time (if required by statute) and a hefty fine. That risk isn’t worth hiring an attorney to handle in some cases. The fact of the matter is that some cases are really complex, and you may not realize how complex your situation is until an attorney tries to dissect your case. Other cases may seem overwhelming until you talk to a lawyer. When in doubt, seek a lawyer out!
Que:How do I find the right attorney?
A.Call as many attorneys as you can. Speak with them in person. See if they will meet you in person. (Covid restrictions notwithstanding) A good lawyer will make time for you in their schedule and accommodate your preferred method of contact. Meeting in person allows you to both to get a real feel for each other. Does the attorney make good eye contact? Do they seem trustworthy? Do you seem to hit it off? Not every case is a good fit with every lawyer. You may want someone less chipper to handle your deceased grandmother’s probate case, and at the same time want someone tough as nails to handle your criminal matters. You want to make sure the attorney is on the same page you are about your case- do you agree how the case should be handled? Does the attorney agree with your thinking? If not, is the attorney compassionate in their explanation of why things would go differently than how you imagined? Court cases can be intimidating and you have to have mutual trust between you and your attorney. If, for any reason, you just aren’t “jiving” with one attorney, call more. Law school graduates take the Bar exam twice a year so there is always a new batch of fresh-faced attorneys willing to take a case if another attorney cannot. If an attorney does not have time to meet with you or discuss your case at length, or does not promptly return emails or phone calls, that can set the tone of the rest of your case with them. ATTENTION: Attorneys work hard and long hours, and we are frequently in court. We cannot answer every text, email, or phone call at the time they occur so please be reasonable in your desire for return communication. I have a special needs daughter and tell my clients at the outset that it means I cannot be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have never had a complaint about my communication skills with my clients, but perhaps that is because they know from day 1 I will do my best to get with them in a timely fashion and always am able to do so.
Que:How do I hire an attorney?
A.Attorneys have different ways of taking on clients, but you will know you’ve hired an attorney if you have paid them a retainer. I also provide a retainer contract with my clients so they know what is expected of them and what I expect of myself in their matters. Also, if the Attorney files an Entry of Appearance it means they are telling the court that they are your attorney of record in that matter.
Que:What’s a retainer?
A.A retainer is a fee that a client pays upfront that guarantees a certain number of hours dedicated to their specific case by the attorney. For example, if an attorney charges $250 an hour, and you pay a $2,500 retainer you have guaranteed yourself 10 hours of that attorneys time to work on your case and only your case.
Que:What if I can’t afford a retainer?
A.Not every attorney requires a hefty retainer and some do not require a retainer at all. Again, please contact multiple attorneys to find one that fits with you and your checking account!
Que:How long is this going to take?!
A.It depends on so many factors it can be really difficult to put together a timeline for your case. If your case is complex it will take longer than a simple, straightforward case. If your case is in a jurisdiction with a low case count it will go faster than if you are in a heavily populated one like Fulton County. If your opposing counsel is friendly and timely it will go faster than an opposing counsel who fights tooth and nail on every single request. If you have a criminal matter it can vary greatly depending on the prosecution- is it a misdemeanor with a solicitor or a felony with the DA? Again, is this a jurisdiction where everyone is overworked, or one with a good case flow? How much evidence needs to be gone through in your case? Are we expecting banker’s boxes floor to ceiling with paperwork or will a couple of emails suffice to satisfy discovery? Is your jurisdiction one that allows for electronic filing or will your attorney have to hoof it down to the courthouse to file everything? What about COVID? It looks like Covid is rearing its ugly head again and there may be court closures ahead and that would really slow court cases down. Some jurisdictions allowed for virtual hearings (Skype, Zoom, Teams) but not all. Again, a multitude of factors help determine how long your case will last.
Que:Will I have to go to court?
A.It depends on various things. Do you want to go to court? I have had clients go both ways on the answer to that question. Some clients want their day in court to be heard, regardless of the outcome, while other clients nearly faint at the thought of having to go to court. You and your attorney can discuss the benefits and drawbacks of having to go to court. Sometimes your attorney can go to court on your behalf without you being present, other times there is just no other way around going to court.
Que:What time constraints are on my case?
A.There are these things called Statutes of Limitation and they basically give you a deadline to handle your case. The statutes cut both ways: Prosecutors (aka The State) only has a certain number of years to accuse charges against you, but at the same time, you have a limited amount of time to file suit or answer a claim against you. The statutes depend on the kind of case you have- a car accident, a felony, a misdemeanor, etc.
Que:Why should I choose your firm?
A. I have years of experience as an attorney, from running my own firm to prosecuting cases from local ordinances to serious felonies. After my many years in the courtroom, I am not afraid to go to trial if it is needed. I am open and honest with my clients and opposing counsel. I will always treat you with respect and kindness. If you don’t believe me, check out my reviews page!
Que:What do you charge?
A.I charge about $250 an hour. There are some circumstances which can make the price go up or down slightly, and I address those in my retainer contract. I accept cash, credit cards, and checks. I do request a retainer and those vary from $1,500 to $5000 depending on the complexity of your case. Here is the bottom line, however: having a court case is scary. Hiring an attorney is scary. Paying an attorney can be scary. I don’t want your court case to ruin your budget so if you need to set up a payment plan we can talk about that. I usually say it’s like gas in a car: I will go as far as you pay me to go. You can fill up the car by paying a retainer, or we can go mile to mile payment to payment. These are the basics, I will be posting more specific questions in my blog.