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Financial Issues This forum is for discussing any of the financial issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 07-05-2017, 01:30 AM
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Default Is this a reasonable cost from the lawyer?

I am with my first lawyer. I went blind with a lawyer as I have no one to get a recommendation from, have never done this before and feel entirely at the mercy of a system I don't know anything about. Up to now I have been happy with lawyer as she seems to be honest, tells me plainly if this or that is realistic or not, is up front, you could do this or that and will cost you this or that any may or may not get the results you want. Thus far almost through my 5000$ retainer and are at the stage of have responded to other parties first parenting plan proposal and prep of court documents, financials.

this months bill shows a charge for a message I left and her response via email. The message only said' just waiting to here from you as you said 1 week ago you would contact me and haven't heard from you yet " only phrased more politely. and she responded by email, sorry I didn't get back to yet, really busy, get back to in x amount of time. that cost me 30$. I do feel nickel and dimed with this charge. Is this a justifiable expense?
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Old 07-05-2017, 05:41 AM
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I am pleased to see that you received what appears to be a detailed statement from the lawyer. Are you receiving one monthly?

I had a lawyer for 7 years and never once was I charged for an email telling me the lawyer will get back to me. Had that happened the lawyer would have been bunted immediately after charges such as that (and others I suspect) were put back into the "trust" account.

If you decide to keep this oh-so-desperate lawyer you should make it very clear that you will not pay for nonsense charges such as these.

If you are totally dissatisfied with lawyer's statement you can go through the court and have the lawyer's bill "assessed" - lawyers hate this more than being reported to the law society as they typically have to pay back a large proportion of the bill.

Others may disagree with me but I think you were, indeed, "nickle and dimed." For a lawyer to charge you for merely trying to get the lawyer to return your calls is arrogant.
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Old 07-05-2017, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denbigh View Post
this months bill shows a charge for a message I left and her response via email. The message only said' just waiting to here from you as you said 1 week ago you would contact me and haven't heard from you yet " only phrased more politely. and she responded by email, sorry I didn't get back to yet, really busy, get back to in x amount of time. that cost me 30$. I do feel nickel and dimed with this charge. Is this a justifiable expense?
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Originally Posted by arabian View Post
Others may disagree with me but I think you were, indeed, "nickle and dimed." For a lawyer to charge you for merely trying to get the lawyer to return your calls is arrogant.
My lawyer did this sort of thing. I once emailed him once to reschedule an appointment because something came up for me, and he acknowledged it, and then later on the bill was an itemized amount for his time spent reading my email (rounded up to a minimum six minute increment) and his time spent responding to it (again, rounded up). They don't tell you when you hire them, or at least mine didn't, that this is how it works. I don't think they all do this though, and it's one of many reasons I don't recommend the lawyer I had to anyone.

So yes, this is normal billing behaviour for lawyers, no matter how the rest of the world operates. In NO other profession are the costs of doing business passed so directly onto the client. Except maybe the dentist; mine charges a fee for missed appointments. But certainly the hair salon does not charge you to simply reschedule!

The legal profession is the opposite of real estate. Your real estate agent only gets paid when the house sells, and it's a percent commission. It doesn't matter how many hours of work she put in, and if you take your house of the market after months, they get paid nothing! If the house was in saleable condition when you started and sells instantly the first day on the market, they get paid the same as an agent who had to really work hard! But your lawyer takes thousands of dollars of your money even before starting any work, and keeps it that way. If you lose your case horribly, they still get paid.

It's hard to know if you're getting your money's worth with your lawyer. I got through my whole divorce for what you've already paid, but we had most of a separation agreement done already through mediation, which was way more reasonably priced. Ask around other lawyers for their billing practices and see if you can find one who is a better fit. Unfortunately, you'll be spending extra money for them to get up to speed, and in my experience, this includes redoing everything the previous lawyer did because it was "wrong." My lawyer really tried to redo the mediated separation agreement from scratch. I learned more from this forum, for free, about the meaning of many things in the agreement, than I did from my lawyer.

Unfortunately, as noted here, the first thing you prep with a divorce lawyer is your financial statement, so they know EXACTLY how much they can milk you for during the process. When you hire a contractor, you just tell him your budget, for example, not your entire financial picture so he knows how much he can go over budget.
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Old 07-05-2017, 09:29 AM
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You may also want to check your contract. My partners lawyer provided a pretty detailed contract on what will be charged for what activities. Now he doesnt call or email unless its urgent because there is a charge.
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Old 07-05-2017, 10:03 AM
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I had the same issue when I first went to Family Court where the lawyer was charging for every email, correspondence, phone call even if nothing was accomplished. I learned quickly and I have self represented since the first go around. I'm getting much better results being my own lawyer and frankly I will never use a lawyer again ever. They are simply a waste of money.
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Old 07-05-2017, 11:26 AM
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She was upfront about her cost 300$/hour and I expected to be billed for email etc, I just thought it was a bit ridiculous to charge for something like that, when she specifically told me she was going to get back to me today on a certain thing, and a week later i didn't hear and asked her. I tried to just call the receptionist but she put it through to the lawyers voice mail. I want to ask her to drop that particular charge, but at 30$ it is a drop in the bucket, it seems why bother, also would it affect her work for me if I complain about it? Would you complain about this charge?

I have no idea how to tell if I am spending a reasonable amount of money. Dont know anyone who went through it, dont have any lawyers in the family. This is so out of the realm of my knowledge base.

She does send a detailed monthly statement of date and charge and what time was spent on, doesn't say how much time. There was a flat rate for each email. I sent a few too many emails the first month, until I got the first bill and smartened up and only send when I have a list of things to ask or a number of documents to submit. Seems like there is a charge when I send an email with a document attached, but not when I drive down and hand it to receptionist in person. Originally said whole thing about 5000$, but I can see there is still a lot to be done. Part of cost increase is STBX fault as he had threatened certain things and I had her prepare court documents, but then he saw reason and I didn't need to go to court. Of course I still had to pay for all of that prep. He refused mediation, so only option was to go to through lawyer.
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Old 07-05-2017, 12:55 PM
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Mediation can be very expensive.

Best way to keep bill down is to be extremely organized and have a list of things you want to discuss when you do meet with lawyer.

Other thing is to educate yourself on legal things. You can go to CanLii.org and click on your province (presume Ontario) and then click on to Superior Court and read through various decisions.

You can go down to a courthouse and watch motions.

This forum has much information on it. Many of us have absolutely no experience in Family court and we start out blind. Consider yourself luck that you discovered this forum so early on in your divorce/separation litigation.

Happy reading!
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Old 07-05-2017, 06:23 PM
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I am glad I found this! Much food for thought. I'm in a different province which doesn't seem to have anything like this (small province)
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