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Rhode Island Divorce Attorneys - What are you paying for?

When hiring a Rhode Island Divorce Attorney, or even when shopping around for one, you want to know what you are paying for.  The best way to do this is to compare the "Fee Agreement", "Retainer Agreement" and/or "Engagement Letter" provided by each attorney.

Things you want to be sure of.

1.  If you wanted to hire a specific attorney make sure the attorney cannot delegate his duties to another attorney.

2.  Be aware of the billing increment.  Some attorneys bill in 10 minute increments, others in 15 minute increments, a good standard to look for is 6 minute increments.  This means that if your agree to a 6 minute billing increment then the smallest increment of time you may be billed for is 6 minutes.

3.  What costs have you agreed to pay for in your agreement with the attorney?  Have you agreed to pay postage costs, mileage, research fees, parking, long distance telephone costs, constable fees.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.


Rhode Island Divorce Tips: The Problem with Cluster Calling!

Most clients can be fairly level headed when it comes to their divorce.  Yet there are a few that roll off the apple cart every now and then and rather than chalk it up to a bumpy road, they'd rather shoot the poor guy who is trying to navigate the apple cart around the bumps in the road.

The intention of this article is to help those who'd rather shoot the poor guy to do something a bit more productive, namely, to see the forest for the trees.

Yet let me be more direct for the sake of time.  One complaint clients have is that their attorney costs too much or that their divorce was far more costly than it needed to be.

One problem that I ran into with a client was what I call "Cluster Calling".  This client would call me at least every other day with an average of two to three calls per pay.  Each call averaged perhaps about 15 minutes.  This lasted for 6 1/2 months (including weekends).

Now I understand that some people want information faster and don't want to wait for a letter and a stamp.  Further I understand that some clients want to hear from their attorney personally rather than by an impersonal letter and therefore they are constantly calling to get updates, to tell of new developments, and to give other details which may not be pertinent to the case at all even though the client thinks they do.

Yet Cluster Calling has had two effects that I've witnessed in practice.  First, the more telephone contact you have with your Rhode Island Attorney, the more you see him or her as a "friend" and not as your hired counselor.  Therefore the time you are on the phone with your "friend" is seen as de-valued in the eyes of the client.

Second, because the Rhode Island Attorney is perhaps sitting in a chair in his office or driving in his car and is only using his or her voice to speak with the client, he may be be seen as not really practicing law and therefore again the attorneys' time is de-valued in the client's eyes.

This leads to a clear issue and sometimes a confrontation between client and attorney that really does not need to happen.  When the client gets the bill, there may be outrage at all the charges for the phone calls and time spent talking to the attorney. 

Two things can help prevent this. (1) It can be reasonably explained to the client that the attorneys services are his or her time and that the client gets the benefit of those services on whatever the issue is, whenever the client calls and that the attorney has no control over how indepth the call is or whether the client is just calling to "vent".  Hopefully, the client will understand that it wasn't the attorney's desire to raise the bill, but that it was what occurred when the client continued to call the attorney on his or her case.  Most clients will agree that it would not be reasonable for the attorney's clients to take the position that the attorney can't bill for phone calls made and received.  (2)  The attorney can make it clear at the time he or she was retained that phone calls are something that is billed to the client.  Specifically, the attorney can explain that if the client calls frequently the bill will rise more quickly but if the matters to be discussed are not urgent, perhaps it might be best to wait until the client has multiple reasons to call before calling the attorney.  Most clients will see this in a positive light and appreciate that you are trying to keep their costs down.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.


Rhode Island Uncontested Divorce Kits are Problematic!

Recently I was approached by a client and his wife who had a truly uncontested divorce.  At least it was uncontested on the surface and so far it looks good.

Issues arose however when the couple wanted me to work with the "kit" they had purchased online to do their Rhode Island Divorce.

The "kit" was what I as a practicing divorce attorney* would call a standard packet of documents.  In fact, regrettably the couple had spent countless hours tailoring various documents and agreements to their own situation (as best they could) without the benefit of a qualified and licensed practitioner.

Now of course I understand the desire of any couple that is in agreement on major aspects of divorce to save money and want to put through their divorce without lawyers. . . who may tend to seem to complicate things and/or turn simple matters into adversarial battles.  Yet in my humble opinion relying upon forms purchased on the internet is generally a bad way to go.

Some form companies simply don't put the effort that is needed into keeping up with the state's laws, the actual practicalities of divorce practice in Rhode Island and the judges.  All three play a definitive roll in your divorce and how smoothly it will go and without an actual practitioner in the field to guide you, I highly doubt that any form company is going to take the time and care necessary to be informed on all these aspects in a timely fashion and then put them in a set of clear instructions for you.

To say the least I had to explain to the couple that it was better if they substantially discard their forms and retain me for a nominal amount for one of the parties to guide them through the process while they worked out their own agreement and I simply formalized it. 

Discarding the Rhode Island Uncontested Divorce Kit did several important things for these people.  It put them at ease that they had a Rhode Island Professional leading them through the process and it saved them time and energy worry whether they would get it right.

To those who can use a forms kit to take a Rhode Island Uncontested Divorce from beginning to end without hassle, anxiety, confusion and mistakes. . . I applaud you.  To those who want it done right by a competent professional at an affordable price, I'll gladly place my skills and forms head to head with the legal form companies regarding a Rhode Island Divorce every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

But don't take it from me, I have clients who will gladly speak with you.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.


Rhode Island Divorce Tip: Divorce Expectations!

Not every attorney is right for every person.  And sometimes, there is no attorney that can satisfy a client.  Simply hiring a divorce and/or family law attorney experienced in Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law does not mean that you have chosen the right attorney for you.

When choosing YOUR divorce or family law attorney you should to consider your own needs and expectations.  You also should consider whether or not your needs and expectations are achievable. 

Here's a quick example of obstacles that can make the client's expectations unrealistic.

A client engages me to represent her in her divorce.  She wants the divorce filed and served quickly.  She also wants it settled quickly and economically. I don't give her any guarantees because a settlement is dependent upon too many factors, yet I assure  her that I will do everything within my power to meet her expectations.

The client gets the questionaire back to me and a I draw up the papers right away.  The husband's lawyer calls and says he wants to accept service for this client but he'll be away for a week or so on vacation.  When the attorney returns the husband's attorney is served.  In about a week the husband's attorney answers the divorce complaint and serves the wife with extensive Interrogatories (questions to be answered under oath) and Requests for the Production of Documents which are likewise extensive.

The client wants the matter settled quickly and doesn't want to answer the Interrogatories  so I call the husband's attorney.  He doesn't want to discuss settlement at this early stage without more information. He wants the answers to the Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents responded to first.
The husband's attorney also files a motion to be heard in a few weeks.

My client is unhappy because this will delay the divorce and cost her more money.  The client instructs me to be more aggressive.  I object to the Interrogatories and call the opposing attorney to see what his client wants to settle the matter.  The opposing attorney will not negotiate.....PERIOD.

My client is upset.

A week or so later I get a letter that my client has retained new counsel.

Conclusions?   

I was not the right attorney for this client and realize that perhaps no attorney will fit the bill.

The client had unrealistic expectations under the circumstances.

No attorney can control another party or another party's attorney.  It simply isn't reasonable to expect your attorney to settle a case immediately when the other side will not budget.  Likewise it isn't within the attorney's control to keep the case economical when third parties that are outside the attorney's control take actions and make filings which by necessity increase the cost.

A person entering the divorce arena should be prepared for best and worst case scenarios and be able to adapt to the changing environment of their court case.  Persons who are unable or are unwilling to do this generally either hop from lawyer to lawyer or end up with a result that is much less than they expected and then resort to blaming the lawyer for not achieving unreasonable expectations.

 



Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.


Rhode Island Divorce Tips: Divorce Questionaires aren't to be Avoided!

I've seen it in larger law firms and practices and I've adopted it for my own divorce practice in Rhode Island.  It's a questionaire.  There's more too it than that obviously, but it's one of the things I have found to be the most helpful for my clients and . .  . in the long run. . . . for me as their divorce attorney.

Yet here is the problem.  Some clients find questionaires to be mundane and boring and they don't really see the value in filling them out completely or correctly.  Some clients will just skip what they don't know off the top of their heads and expect the lawyer to fill in the blanks later.

Folks, I can tell you that questionaires are the key to saving money and developing an effective way for attorneys to properly represent the client.

Imagine there is a lazy client who fills in a divorce questionaire poorly with lots of gaps and unanswered information.  That means the attorney that lazy client hired has to take time to prod you and dig for information that is most likely easier and more cost effective for the lazy client to get.

Yet the lazy client who didn't want to fill out the questionaire will probably breathe fire from his or her nostrils when they get the bill from the attorney for finishing the questionaire by digging for the information.

Whether you have a divorce in Rhode Island or in another state, it doesn't matter.  If you are provided with a questionaire by the attorney, fill it out completely and as legibly as possible.  The attorney is providing you with a valuable tool to help the attorney and save you money.   Use it wisely.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.