Question: Do you handle any legal matters outside of real estate and business law?
Answer: No. A jack of all trades is a master of none. In this age of specialization, most attorneys limit the scope of their practice to a few areas of the law. Our primary focus is commercial real estate and business law, and most commonly our business matters are related to real estate. We also do residential real estate, when the facts justify the costs. Sometimes we are involved in bankruptcy, family law, probate, or trusts and estates matters; however, only insofar as the issues deal directly with real estate matters and often we handle such matters in conjunction with (or are retained by) other attorneys who specialize in those other areas of law. A "general practitioner" is not likely to know the intricacies of real property law, nor deal with such legal matters on a daily basis.
Question: Do you do both litigation and transactional work? Isn't that being a jack of all trades?
Answer: We do both litigaiton/dispute resolution as well as transactional work in real estate and business matters. Whether we are dealing with a litigation or transactional matter, its really like two sides of the same coin - the common and uniting element is our expertise and experience in the law and business of the real estate field. We feel that have a litigation experience allows us to draft better contracts which would be more likely to address real world situations and it allows us to counsel our clients better about what is important and how it could play out if the contract ultimately winds up in litigation. Likewise, having a strong transactional background, helps us in litigation by providing an understanding of the business and legal issues, and perhaps what the parties were trying to agree upon in the contract.
For example, I recently had a case which involved a developer who was allegedly defrauding his associates/employees/minority shareholders. Having experience with the development business allowed me to understand what the parties were originally trying to strucutre; a background in transactional work allowed me to understand the struture of the various agreement regarding the parties' business relationship and focus on various provisions of an LLC agreement (which were invalid under California law); and finally, a background in litigation allowed a minority shareholder and employee to efficiently and effectively stand up and fight against a multimillionaire developer and acheive a favorable resolution in mediation.
Question: Many attorneys are perceived to be merely expensive "roadblocks" which delay or prevent transactions from closing, why are you different?
Answer: Rather than being a roadblock, I prefer to be a creative problem-solver. Most of our clients value our services and advice and see us as a valuable member of their business team. Attorneys who do not specialize or have expertise in real estate or have a business sense, often fail to focus on the most important issues at hand. In addition, some attorneys are so focused on the legal side of things that they lose sight of the client's goals which typically drive the transaction or the litigation.
Question: How much do your services cost?
Answer: It depends on the nature of the legal services. We typically charge an hourly rate plus costs. Some matters, such as entity formations, are billed at a flat rate plus costs. We do not do contingency cases. However, depending upon certain limited circumstances we may be able to charge a reduced hourly rate, plus costs, with a success fee or contingency percentage. All legal services are subject to full execution of an attorney-client fee agreement and our receipt of a refundable retainer from the client.
Question: What is a "refundable retainer?"
Answer: A refundable retainer is an amount of money held in a special bank account, called a client trust account, from which we bill our fees and costs against. The retainer is held in accordance with the rules of the State Bar of California. By law, any interest generated from the account is paid by the bank to the State Bar Association and is used to maintain their public service programs. If the retainer is used during the course of the matter, the client will typically be required to replenish (or "refill") the retainer. Any unused amounts remaining in the retainer account at the end of your matter are refundable to the client. A refundable retainer is required for all cases - no exceptions. This allows us to focus on your case, and not be focused on collections issues. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "a retainer lets the client know he has an attorney, and an attorney know he has a client."
Question: Do you take credit cards? How about PayPal?
Answer: We can take credit cards and paypal payments for payment of ongoing legal fees and costs. The additional cost of such transactions are passed along to clients who wish to pay this way. We are also in the process of establishing a process for payment of retainer fees by credit card, but that service is not yet available. Tip: this is a good way to rack up frequent flier mileage, so you can be in Hawaii while we are dlligently handling your legal matter!
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