When does representation start?
Before I begin any representation, there needs to be an agreement between me and my client that sets out our expectations, in terms of services, fees, and our responsibilities to each other.
How do you figure out the total cost?
The total amount of attorney fees, costs, and expenses is dependent on a variety of factors, some that are not within my control. Although I may provide a client with an estimate, in most cases the fees will be based on actual billed time. On occasion, I will charge a “flat rate” for services that are limited and more predictable.
What’s a retainer?
Most attorneys require a “retainer” prior to beginning work, particularly if litigation is anticipated. This is a set amount that is deposited into a separate trust account (also known as an Interest on Lawyer Trust Account, or IOLTA) where I maintain funds belonging to my clients. IOLTA funds are deposited in accordance with the rules governing lawyers in Florida, as well as my fiduciary duty to the client. I will pay myself from the client’s portion of the trust account when services are performed or expenses are incurred. The client does not receive interest on the money held in the trust account; pursuant to law, all interest goes to a state fund to provide legal services for persons who are indigent.
Are retainers refundable?
Retainers can be either refundable or non-refundable. Except where a flat rate is involved, most of my agreements are for refundable retainers. If funds are left in the IOLTA account at the completion of my work, they are returned to the client.
When does representation end?
The attorney-client relationship ends automatically at the completion of the matter for which I was retained. The client may request that I no longer represent him or her at any time, but if I have entered an appearance in a court or administrative action, approval may be required prior to my withdrawal. In any case, I will be entitled to fees and expenses for my services up to the point of termination of the attorney-client relationship, and any remaining retainer funds will be returned to you. In rare cases, I may seek to withdraw when the client and I are not able to work together effectively.