Unprincipled Rhode Island Divorce Attorneys Cause Major Issues - By the RI Divorce Coach
The Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer and Coach on Equity, Justice and Rhode Island Law!

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Do you want RI Divorce coaching that is affordable on your finances?  Or, do you want inexpensive Rhode island Divorce Representation?  Practically speaking, these are the two options I offer.

Of course there is a third alternative, do you want expensive Rhode Island divorce representation that costs you an arm and a leg because somehow you believe you get more by paying more?  I've opted out of the third option because it's not good for you and it isn't practical.  But you can certainly go to a high priced attorney if you want to and convince yourself that you are getting more or better representation because you pay more.  Personally, it's your decision but it's not based upon logic or anything other than perhaps the old addage " you get what you pay for.'"  If you want to believe that, in my opinion, the only thing you are going to pay for is for more support staff, a fancier car for the attorney, better copiers, a fancier postage meter, upgraded computers and networking, an on-call technology person, a billing person, an accountant, the payroll company, heat and electricity for a larger building and frankly I could go on and on. 

Ultimately, keep in mind that it is always a bad idea to judge the quality of a book merely by the outward appearance of its cover and the library its kept in.  While the fancy surroundings may make you feel more comfortable, in the end it isn't the lawyer's fancy desk, or the comfy waiting room chairs that are going to represent you in court, it's the lawyer.

Yet frankly it's unclear what people really want anymore, even in a financially difficult economy..  Recently a man left my office and seemed thrilled with the services I offered him and the amount I quoted him in comparison to the other services he stated he'd been offered and the prices he had been given by other Rhode Island lawyers.  In the end, the man chose to hire an attorney who charged $150 more PER HOUR for her services because he felt more comfortable hiring a lawyer with a large spacious office and two support staff just for her.  He also believed that the sports car she drives told him that she is both skilled and successful as a lawyer.

I was baffled.  Where did the fancy office, support staff, sports car and such come from?  Clients who are charged that extra $150 per hour to pay for those things of course!  

I have run across this mindset before and I know and accept that it exists so typically I just let it go at that and wish the person well in their matter.   Yet this particular time I felt the need to understand why this man had made his choice.  Particularly, I was curious if the man understood that his extra $150 per hour paid for those fancy extras that he was so impressed with.  Thankfully the man was not offended when I questioned about further.  Ultimately the man  said that he understood yet he felt more comfortable going with someone with proven success like that and told me that he felt that "you get what you pay for."   His last statement before we ended our talk about his selection of Rhode Island family lawyer was this, "I wanted the best chance of winning."

I was dumbfounded.  He wasn't getting the large spacious office.  From the discussion he wasn't getting billed less for the two support staff.  In fact, it was clear that the man assumed that the two support staff would be there to jump for that lawyer, or for him at a moment's notice though there was no indication that he would get billed less when the secretary or legal assistant did something on his case as opposed to the lawyer.  I certainly didn't see where that man walking away with the lawyer's sports car for the extra $150 per hour he would be paying.  At first I questioned my own sanity and reasoning skills.  Thankfully I second guessed my own sanity for less than a minute before I dismissed the thought.

Generally, there has been a perception and complaint by the public that lawyers overcharge for their services.  Yet strangely when they have an opportunity to pay less, they still pay more.  It certainly is something to ponder.

Is the idea that the best lawyers are overpaid, drive luxury cars, and own houses in affluent neighborhoods for clients to see so engrained in the North American mentality that we as lawyers must overcharge and overindulge in order to get business?

What do people want?  Particularly, I'm curious what those in the Rhode Island Family Court system want from their lawyers?  

I'd like to hear from those looking for Rhode Island divorce and family law lawyers because because frankly I remain confused by what appears to be a mentality that I see all too often that is completely devoid of logic, reason and even practicality and usually simply ends with the client complaining that lawyers overcharge you and get paid too much.  Yet it seems that this is what people are demanding from Rhode Island lawyers in order to actually give them their legal business.

Do I skyrocket my legal fees to get your business, only to pay myself more, buy myself a better house, drive a better car,  and hire myself more support staff to make things easier on me as the lawyer and yet still deliver the same services I offered to you as a Rhode Island family law client at one-third the price to begin with?   

If clients are going to turn away from affordable yet experienced Rhode Island lawyers to hire lawyers with billing rates that would choke a horse because they are under the mistaken belief that the Rhode Island lawyers who win are only those who drive Jaguars and Mercedes, own 5,000 square foot homes in Barrington, and work out of spacious offices in downtown Providence with 20 parking spaces then aren't client's creating their own complaints needlessly?  Shouldn't the complaints about lawyers always charging too much just stop?  It would seem to be a matter of choice.

As a Rhode Island lawyer focusing my practice in the area of divorce and family law now for more than a decade, I'm curious whether lawyers cause the "they over charge and cost too much" type of complaint or could it perhaps be the higher end clients who can afford to pay $350 or $400 per hour who pay more for attorneys who charge more and then complain about the cost in the end despite the fact that they chose an overly expensive lawyer instead of a more economical family law lawyer who might be just as good.

The real example I gave in this article is far from isolated.  This same scenario has been replayed easily more than a dozen times over the past two years.

What do you as the reader think causes this overcharging and cost complaint about lawyers?  

Should I as a lawyer and other lawyers who want to change our image with the public even bother to offer lower cost legal services if clients are still going to exclude quality services because we don't charge enough and then complain about lawyers in general because the client rejected the cost effective services?

Feel free to weigh in on the issue and my questions.

Authored By:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law

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