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Setting Expectations with Your Attorney

By: Jason White



One thing you want to do when you go in with an attorney is set an expectation for yourself and for that attorney about how the fees will be handled. Going back to the most traditional type, which is the hourly fee, you’re going to want to know: what is the attorney’s hourly rate? That rate is traditionally based on the attorney’s knowledge and experience. So a partner may bill at this higher rate, whereas an associate will bill at a lower rate. A bigger firm may bill paralegals and other staff out at a lower rate as well.

Which brings up another question you’re going to want to know: who’s handling your work and at what rate are they billing you?  Make certain that the person who’s handling your work is qualified to do the work, but isn’t overqualified to do it. You don’t necessarily need a partner billing at a high hourly rate to handle every single project that you have even though it may give you a sense of comfort. And of course if your work is going to be passed off to an associate, a paralegal, staff, or someone else, it’s worth asking who that person is and maybe meet with them so you feel comfortable. If you can’t meet them in person, speak to them on the phone. Understand who the attorney is or who the person is who’s going to be doing the work since you will be paying a decent amount for the service.

Published: December 18, 2012

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Jason White

 Jason White is an associate attorney at Finestone & Morris in Atlanta, GA. With a J.D. from Emory University, Jason is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the American Bar Association. His legal specialties include corporate, sports and entertainment, civil litigation, creditor’s rights, commercial leasing, estate planning, and criminal defense.

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