FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What is your hourly rate?
A. Presently, I charge $250.00 per hour. Typically family law attorneys bill "hourly", in 6 minute increments. Generally, clients are charged “.2”, or 12 minutes, for any work done related to your case. For example, if I receive an email/text from a client, the client is billed ".2” for the receipt and reading of the email/text even though it may not have taken 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 one would hope that the attorneys' hourly rate is a reflection of their skill ("the higher the rate the better the attorney"), often times the rate only represents that the attorney is charging $500 an hour, and a client is willing to pay it regardless of the attorneys' skill or reputation.
Q. What type of experience do you have?
A. For more than 15 years I have worked in the area of family law; prior to starting my own practice, I was employed at "boutique" family law firms, which provided mentorship with some of the most well-respected family law practitioners in the area. I represent clients in Family Court proceedings, before Judges, Hearing Officers, Domestic Relations Officers, Permanent Masters, and Conciliators on a regular basis. The frequency of these appearances in Family Division provides me with valuable insight to the different Judge, and how they may/may not 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 specific to your set of facts, and Judges are assigned on a random basis. As long as your represented by an experienced family law attorney, intimidation and/or the use of a “big-gun" in or out of court plays 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. In Pennsylvania, attorneys are required to have a Juris Doctorate to sit for the Pennsylvania State Bar Exam.* 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. (California does not require a law degree to sit for their bar exam - i.e. Kim Kardashian West).
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 different 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 which includes the initial consultation, hearing preparation, and representation on the day hearing.
On a side note, 80-90% of all PFA's in Allegheny County are resolved without the need for a hearing.
Q. What will it cost for you 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 the initial consultation, hearing preparation, and representation at the support conference and the hearing if one is held that same day.
Q. Do you handle simple divorces, and if so, what's the cost?
A. I charge a flat fee of $1,500.00 for preparation of all documents necessary to file a 1-count Complaint in Divorce, and obtain your divorce decree.