FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What is your hourly rate?
A. Presently, I charge $225.00 per hour. Attorneys who bill hourly typically charge in 6 minute increments. Under my retainer agreement, I charge no less than “.2”, or 12 minutes, for any work related to your case. For example, if you send an email/text, I can charge “.2” for the receipt and reading of the email/text even though it may not have taken me a full 12 minutes to do so.
(Practical Note for Clients: The easiest way to keep the charges down on your monthly bill is to limit the number of calls/emails/texts to your attorney or their staff; It's best if you call /email your attorney with a list of questions, rather than emailing/calling him/her each time you think of a question.)
Please note that my hourly rate can increase or decrease depending upon how labor-intensive your case is. For example, complex divorces and custody litigation can be labor intensive due to performing discovery and/or trial preparation. If I do spend that much more time on your matter, more than likely I will discount the billing rate to stay competitive with firms who have paralegals and/or law clerks, for whom the firm can charge a lower hourly rate for the same work I can perform.
Q. How does your rate compare to other family law attorneys?
A. My rate is lower than most local family law attorneys. The hourly rates in Pittsburgh range anywhere from $75 an hour for a paralegal, to more than $500 an hour for a named partner at a larger family law firm.
An important note is that an attorneys' hourly rate is NOT an indicator of how good the attorney is, or, how well the attorney will perform in Court. While you would hope that the hourly rate represents that the attorney has a great reputation and lots of experience, often times it only represents that the attorney is charging you $500 an hour, and you are willing to pay it.
Q. What type of experience do you have?
A. I have more than 12 years’ experience working in the area of family law. I have worked for “boutique” family law firms, and mentored by a number of the most well-respected family law practitioners in the area for the last 20 years. I represent clients in Family Court proceedings before Judges and Hearing Officers at least 2-3 days per week. The frequency of these appearances in Family Division provides me with valuable insight as to how the different Judges may respond to particular situations . I am also extremely fortunate to have maintained friendships and good working relationships with many other family law practitioners.
Q. Don’t I need a big-name law firm or a “named” partner so I can intimidate my spouse and their attorney into getting what I want in my divorce or because they know someone in the Judiciary?
A. NO. Your case is dependent on the specific facts of your case. As long as you have an experienced family law attorney, intimidation and/or the use of a “big-name " play a very small part in the results of your case.
Q. My brother/best friend/nanny’s older sister is a tax/real estate/corporate/personal injury attorney – can’t I just hire them for my divorce?
A. NO. You would not hire a “general surgeon” to perform “neurosurgery,” and the same concept applies here. While almost all attorneys attend law school, all attorneys do not practice in all areas, and most specialize in only one or two specific areas. There are many nuances in family law that only those attorneys who practice family law frequently will know.
In the area of family law, it is especially important to hire an experienced practitioner. While the law is the same for everyone, the law is not applied the same to everyone. The reasons why vary from differing case facts to having a different judge.
Q. Do you charge a fee for initial consultations?
A. Yes. I charge a flat fee of $150 for our first meeting, no matter the length of our meeting.
Q. Do you handle Protection From Abuse actions (aka "PFA's), and if so, how much do you charge?
A. Yes, I handle PFA actions and can represent you at your PFA Hearing. I charge a flat fee of $500, and the initial consultation fee is waived if you hire me to act as your attorney.
On a side note, 80-90% of all PFA's in Allegheny County are resolved without the need for a hearing.
Q. What do you charge to represent me at my spousal/apl/child support hearing?
A. I charge a flat fee of $500.00 to represent you on the day of the hearing. This fee includes representation at the support conference and the hearing if one is held. The initial consultation fee will be waived if you choose to hire me as your attorney.