ANDERSON LAW FIRM GENERAL CLIENT POLICIES
SCOPE AND PURPOSE OF THESE POLICIES: The purpose of these policies is to avoid misunderstandings and disputes, provide transparency to clients, and maintain a high level of ethical professionalism by Joseph B. Anderson Attorney At Law, P.C. d/b/a Anderson Law Firm (“We” “Us” “Attorney” or “Law Firm”). You (“Client” or “Potential Client”), acknowledges and agrees that the enclosed terms and policies apply to any and all attorney-client relationships with all clients of Anderson Law Firm regardless of whether a written fee agreement or engagement letter exists between You and Law Firm. You, both individually and in any representative capacity, unconditionally agree to all of these terms and policies without exception.
THESE POLICIES DO NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. LAW FIRM DOES NOT REPRESENT YOU UNLESS AND UNTIL A SEPARATE WRITTEN FEE AGREEMENT HAS BEEN FORMALLY EXECUTED BETWEEN YOU AND LAW FIRM AGREEING TO CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP LIMITED TO A SPECIFIC SCOPE OF WORK TO BE PERFORMED BY LAW FIRM. UNTIL THEN, LAW FIRM WILL RESPECT YOUR CONFIDENTIALITY BUT NO FORMAL ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS CREATED AND WE HAVE NO OBLIGATIONS TO YOU OR YOUR LEGAL MATTER. AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS CREATED ONLY AFTER WE FORMALLY ACCEPT YOUR CASE AND PROPER PAYMENT IS RECEIVED. UNTIL THEN, WE HAVE NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE OR SERVICES OR OTHERWISE ACT ON YOUR BEHALF.
LIMITATIONS ON REPRESENTATION:
Scope Of Representation: If and when Potential Client and Law Firm engage in an attorney-client relationship, Law Firm’s representation will always be limited to a specific scope of work defined by the written agreement between Law Firm and Client. Law Firm has no obligation to represent Client or perform any work outside of the defined scope of representation. Law Firm will not act in a representative capacity when Law Firm has not been retained in that capacity. For example, Law Firm will not act as Client’s representative in a dispute if Law Firm has only been retained to draft a document for Client.
No Post-Trial Work Without Specific Agreement: In litigation cases, Law Firm’s representation terminates at the conclusion of a first trial or first hearing of the case. In the event a retrial or an appeal is determined to be necessary after a trial, a new agreement must be negotiated for Law Firm’s representation of Client to continue. Law Firm has no obligation to represent Client on any appeal. Furthermore, Client’s signature on the written fee agree satisfies the signature requirements for a Non-Representation Notice by Attorney pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 6.4 or its successor. Law Firm has no obligation to perform any post-judgment work without a written fee agreement stating otherwise. This includes all post-judgment work including but not limited to collection of costs, attorney fees, damages, or other amounts awarded by the court
AUTHORITY TO ACT AS ATTORNEY: During any representation of Client by Law Firm, Client authorizes the attorneys of the Law Firm to advise and counsel Client, undertake negotiations, institute and prosecute legal proceedings on and defend Client’s claims, rights, interests, and causes of action pertinent to the legal matter specifically described above through settlement or final judgment, compromise and settle said legal matter with or without suit, substitute attorneys in their place to perform professional services for any phase of representation; however, Client’s legal matter may not be compromised without Client’s consent.
ATTORNEY FEES, EXPENSES, AND BILLING PRACTICES:
Non-Refundable Transaction and Processing Fees: All transaction expenses such as bank processing fees arising from the payment of funds to Law Firm are Client’s responsibility and will be charged to Client except when prohibited by law. Client understands that Law Firm cannot and will not refund any transaction expenses even if Client terminates representation before Law Firm has performed any work for Client.
Non-Refundable Administrative Fee: A non-refundable fee of $80.00 is charged to all Clients upon engagement of Law Firm by Client. This fee covers the time and expense of entering Client’s data into our office systems and creation of Client’s file. This fee is automatically incorporated into all fee estimates.
Estimates Not Binding: Any estimates or speculations by Law Firm in regards to the fees or costs of representation are not binding in any way and do not establish a flat fee arrangement. The cost of representation of prior clients does not guarantee that Law Firm can achieve similar results for Client at the same price. All estimates are for attorney fees only and do not include costs. However, Attorney may give a separate estimate for costs in addition to any estimate for attorney fees.
Flat Fees: Law Firm offers some basic flat fee services such as paid consults and document preparation. However, unless otherwise and specifically agreed in writing, all of Law Firm’s services are billed on an hourly fees basis. When used, flat fees are limited to a very specific item or task. Law Firm generally avoids the use of flat fees because of a few prior Clients with unreasonable expectations about the scope of work to be performed and/or underestimated scopes of work due to Client misinformation or failures to fully disclose relevant information. Law Firm reserves the right to determine what is a reasonable scope of work for any flat fee. Upon contacting Client about issues concerning a flat fee, Law Firm reserves the right to convert to hourly billing for all additional work, increase the amount of the flat fee, or refund the flat fee less what Law Firm determines to be a reasonable fee for all work performed to date.
Free Consultations: Law Firm will often provide a limited, free cursory review or “Free Consultation” of a potential client’s situation to determine the nature of the legal matter and whether Law Firm is a good fit for the potential client. Law Firm is not retained by any potential client and no attorney-client relationship exists during or as a result of a Free Consultation. Law Firm will not review a potential client’s matter in detail, review documents, or provide any legal advice or services whatsoever to a potential client. Law Firm will attempt to provide an attorney fee estimate, separate cost estimate, and perhaps a potential flat fee.
Paid Consultations: For paid consultations, Client hires Law Firm only to perform a general review of Client’s matter. An attorney-client relationship is created, but Law Firm will not act in a representative capacity for Client. Law Firm will not communicate with any third-parties. Client must provide all information to Law Firm. The goal is to provide Client with a comprehensive overview of Client’s situation. At that point, the attorney-client relationship ends. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, a paid consultation automatically terminates 14 days after Law Firm is hired.
Hourly Fees: Law Firm hourly fees for professional services calculated in minimum increments of l/10th of an hour (6 minutes) at the following rates unless agreed otherwise:
Attorneys $285.00 per hour ($100 per hour for travel time)
Legal Assistants $100.00 per hour
Law Clerks $50.00 per hour
**Fees are increased by 20% for any work requested or required to be performed on a weekend or holiday.
Agreement to Pay Costs: Client agrees to pay, in addition to fees for professional services, all expenses and costs incurred by the Law Firm in rendering professional services including telephone charges, travel expenses, costs of obtaining and preparing evidence and documentation, deposition costs, consultants’ and expert witness fees, all costs of court, and all other sums paid or otherwise disbursed on Client’s behalf by the Law Firm.
Direct Cost Billing: Client agrees to directly pay all invoices for services rendered by third parties that the Law Firm forwards to Client, holding the Law Firm harmless from any failure to do so.
Invoicing: All fees and expenses may be itemized in an invoice, which is due and payable upon receipt. Invoices and other correspondence mailed to Client are deemed received by Client on the second day after being deposited in the mail by Law Firm. Client agrees to pay in full the stated amount due not later than 10 days from receipt, without demand, at the Law Firm office. Payment is considered late after the 10 days. Invoices are considered final unless dispute is made in writing to Law Firm within 10 days of receipt. Unpaid account balances are subject to 10.0% per month late fee on unpaid amounts..
Invoice Format: Law Firm uses a set invoice format which lists each flat fee, hourly fee work chronologically billed as performed, and costs as itemized by receipts. Work performed for flat fees is not itemized. Each item billed contains a brief description sufficient to identify the general nature of the work or cost. Hourly fee work is itemized based on when the work is performed (ie. a single contiguous work session). Generally, Law Firm will not reformat or alter its invoice to accommodate Client’s own requirements. Reasonable requests may be granted at Law Firm’s sole discretion.
PAYMENTS AND RETAINERS:
Initial Retainer: Client agrees to pay in full to the Law Firm, prior to commencement of representation, the initial retainer stated in any fee agreement between the parties as a deposit against fees and costs.
Payment from Retainer: Fees for professional services rendered and costs and expenses incurred will be deducted from the retainer on deposit as fees are earned and costs and expenses are incurred. Law Firm will not undertake representation until the retainer is paid in full and accepted by Law Firm. Continuation of representation is conditioned upon fulfillment of the obligation to pay subsequent retainers. The purpose of the retainer is to ensure payment of all fees and costs or any amounts owed to Law Firm. Accordingly, Client waives any and all rights to withhold or otherwise obstruct Law Firm’s ability and right to access retainer funds or pay itself from the retainer. Client’s dispute of any amount owed to Law Firm does not affect Law Firm’s right to withdraw payment from the retainer even if the funds are later refunded or recredited.
Subsequent Retainers: When deductions for fees earned and costs incurred reduce a prior retainer to an amount equal to l/4th the original amount, funds necessary to replenish the retainer to the amount of the initial retainer may be required. If requested by Law Firm, Client agrees to pay said additional retainer within 10 days of request by Law Firm.
Other Sources of Payment: Regardless of any court-awarded attorney’s fees or costs, Client remains liable for and agrees to pay all amounts owed to Law Firm. Payments to Client by other persons or entities, whether voluntarily or pursuant to a settlement agreement, order, or judgment, will be paid directly to Law Firm or immediately delivered to Law Firm by Client. Whenever possible, Client will divert funds from payment to Client and divert payment directly to Law Firm. Client agrees Law Firm is entitled to immediate injunctive relief to ensure delivery of payments as contemplated herein to Law Firm. Any such payments will be immediately applied against the balance due by Client to Law Firm. Law Firm may also deduct any additional retainers owed by Client. Only third-party payments exceeding the final outstanding balance at the conclusion of Law Firm’s representation of Client will be reimbursed to Client.
Refunds or Disbursements: Any retainer funds remaining after termination of any attorney-client relationship and after all obligations, including outstanding obligations, owed to Law Firm have been paid, shall be refunded to Client. In the event a refund or disbursement is due a client or third party, this office shall have 45 days in which to make that payment. If processing fees were deducted from the original payment, the refund or disbursement shall be net after deduction of transaction charges as allowed by law. Failure of Law Firm to timely refund or disburse funds to Client will not extend any attorney-client relationship. If Law Firm is unable to locate Client to pay a refund or disbursement, then the refund or disbursement is forfeit to Law Firm after 180 days.
Bad Checks, Payment Declined, CC Chargebacks: Client is responsible for all costs associated with or damages suffered by Law Firm due to failed or withheld payments. Client agrees to pay a $75.00 fee for all failed or withheld payments. Law Firm may terminate representation if Client’s payment fails or is withheld.
Email: We have many Clients and email is the preferred means and most efficient means of communicating with our Clients. Attorneys will often have access to email in situations where they cannot take phone calls (court house, meetings, etc…). Client agrees to use email whenever possible. All clients must have and provide us with an email account where they may be contacted.
Phone Calls: Phone calls are limited to situations where a spoken dialogue is necessary.
Office Visits: All office visits are by appointment only. Office visits have a significant impact on an attorney’s schedule and are reserved primarily for situations where the client’s physical presence is required to execute documents or due to a client’s physical disability. Clients do not need an appointment to pickup items being held by us for pickup by the client or to drop of specific documents, payments, etc… that have been requested from the client by us. However, due to serious liability reasons office staff that are not working on a Client’s case will never accept documents from that Client. To avoid a wasted trip to our office, all clients should communicate with office staff beforehand to let them know the client will be stopping by.
Frequency: We simply have too many clients to continually check-in with each client on a recurring schedule. In order of us to properly represent each client, a minimum level of communication with each client is determined by their particular situation. If you want an update on your case, please be proactive and contact us.
**No Unexpected and Unscheduled Office Visits: All our attorneys work on tight schedules. Unscheduled walk-ins by clients disrupt staff and attorney schedules and result in the attorneys working late that night to catch up on their work. Even if an attorney is not with a client, the attorney is not necessarily available to meet with a client who drops by without an appointment. Client’s stopping by to pick up or drop off items are a different matter. Please read the above section on office visits for more details.
Excessive Communications: Law Firm will work with Client to establish what Law Firm determines to be a reasonable amount of communication based on Client’s situation. Law Firm will answer Client’s reasonable specific questions concerning Client’s matter. Client will not engage in excessive, repetitive communication with Law Firm seeking trivial summary reports on the status of Client’s matter. Law Firm will warn Client of excessive communications. If Client excessive communications persists, Client may be charged at attorney’s hourly rate and/or representation suspended or terminated.
Complaints Or Dissatisfaction: Client satisfaction is a priority. Any dissatisfaction a client may feel in regards to their legal representation by Law Firm should be communicated directly and solely to the Client’s primary attorney for immediate resolution. Client shall not vent their emotions or any complaints on Law Firm support staff. Client agrees not to make (whether oral or written) any disparaging remarks or criticisms to any third parties until Client has contacted Law Firm and made a reasonable effort to resolve any conflict.
Defamation Of Reputation: Law Firm will prosecute any perceived libel, slander, or other defamation of Law Firm’s reputation by Client whether committed directly or indirectly by Client. Law Firm is not bound by its obligation of attorney-client confidentiality in defending itself against defamation by Client. In any situation where Law Firm believes it has been defamed by Client, Law Firm will inform Client of the perceived act(s) of defamation and attempt to resolve any disputes with Client. If Client and Law Firm cannot resolve all disputes informally within ten (10) days of Law Firm contacting Client, then Client and Attorney agree to attend mediation in Williamson County, Texas within the following thirty (30) days. Client agrees unconditionally to immediately and completely unpublish, redact, or otherwise withdraw all derogatory or potentially defamatory remarks to third parties pending completion of mediation. If all disputes are not resolved by mediation, Client agrees to refrain from republishing or communicating all derogatory or potentially defamatory remarks against Law Firm for ninety (90) days after the date of mediation so that Law Firm may pursue other legal remedies against Client.
Rude Or Hostile Behavior: Law Firm has zero tolerance for the following behavior towards any attorney, employee, representative, client, or guest of Law Firm and anyone while they are on the premises of any place of business of Law Firm: offensive bodily contact; threats of physical violence; belligerent behavior including any act or comment intended to intimidate, belittle or embarrass; shouting; lewd behavior or attire; or socially unacceptable conduct including age-inappropriate behavior when a minor is present.
Client Responsibilities and Cooperation: In order for Law Firm to effectively represent Client, information and documents requested by Law Firm must be provided in a timely manner. Clients must show up for scheduled office visits, court dates, or other scheduled events. If a client does not prioritize their own legal matter then neither will we. Any client that ignores their responsibilities as client should not expect us to immediately re-prioritize their case when the client suddenly takes a renewed interest. We will not prioritize an emergency created by one client’s neglect at the expense of our representation of another client. If we cannot effectively represent a client due to their failure to cooperate, the representation will be terminated.
Delays By Third-Parties: We cannot be responsible for delays caused by parties or circumstances that are outside of our control. Client acknowledges that any deadlines for completion of any work cannot be guaranteed due to circumstances outside of Law Firm’s control. Law Firm will work with Client to minimize any consequences due to unforeseen and/or unavoidable delays.
Proxies: Entities such as corporations and trusts must have a human representative to act on their behalf. However, we cannot and will not engage or represent an individual through a proxy or agent. We must directly represent all non-entity clients. We are happy to work with friends or family that are “assisting” a client. If we are unable to communicate directly with a client or otherwise verify the client is controlling their own legal representation, we may suspend or terminate the representation.
SUSPENSION OF REPRESENTATION: Law Firm reserves the right to suspend all work for Client upon the occurrence of the following: any ground upon which Law Firm could terminate representation of Client, failure to maintain sufficient retainer funds; failed or withheld payment; reasonable belief that Client will breach a fee agreement with Law Firm or violate these general terms and policies; inability to reasonably locate or communicate with Client.
TERMINATION OF REPRESENTATION:
Termination By Client: A client may terminate Law Firm’s representation, if any shall exist, at anytime by providing Law Firm with signed written confirmation of the termination. The client remains responsible for fees and costs incurred as Law Firm terminates the relationship with the client. Upon such termination, Law Firm has no further obligation to represent the client. All of client’s contractual obligations, including amounts due and owing, to Law Firm survive the termination of Law Firm’s representation.
Termination By Law Firm: The Law Firm has the right to terminate, without prior warning, its representation of any client if the client materially breaches the terms of a fee agreement with Law Firm, materially fails to follow Law Firm’s terms and policies, misrepresents or fails to disclose material facts to the Law Firm, if for any reason the relationship becomes unworkable, the client engages in illegal conduct, or client engages in any conduct that could damage the reputation of Law Firm.
Completion Of Work: Law Firm’s representation of Client automatically terminates immediately once Law Firm has completed all work included under the scope of Law Firm’s representation. Law Firm’s representation of Client is not open-ended. Law Firm’s representation of Client is not extended merely because Law Firm is closing out Client’s file.
LEGAL ENTITIES: In cases where Client is a legal entity the term “I” as used herein shall refer to the entity. The person signing this Agreement on behalf of the entity Client does personally, in his or her capacity as an individual, swear and affirm to have the authority and consent to bind the entity Client to this Agreement.
NO MISREPRESENTATIONS: Client has not and will not knowingly make any misrepresentations to Law Firm or withhold information from Law Firm so as to mislead Law Firm and agrees to indemnify and compensate Law Firm for any harm or damages resulting to Law Firm as a result of any misrepresentations, either knowingly or unknowingly, made to Law Firm or deceptions by Client or any of Client’s representatives.
Exceptions To Attorney-Client Confidentiality: Law Firm is under no obligation to maintain client loyalty or confidentiality in the event a client commits an illegal, unethical, or wrongful act against Law Firm.
Verification of Identity: Client agrees to cooperate with Law Firm in verifying Client’s identity and Client shall provide a valid driver’s license, state issued identification, passport, or equivalent document. Law Firm may terminate any representation of Client if Client’s identity cannot be sufficiently verified.
Proof of Representative Capacity and Authority: Where any individual claims to be an authorized agent of an entity Client, that individual must provide sufficient proof of representative capacity and the authority to act on behalf of the entity. The sufficiency of proof shall be determined solely by Law Firm.
Updated Contact Information: It is the sole responsibility of Client to provide Law Firm with valid and current contact information where Client can reasonably be reached including a complete mailing address, phone number, and email. Law Firm has no responsibility to attempt to locate Client or verify Client’s contact information. All correspondence including notices sent to the most recent address provided by Client is considered received, regardless of actual receipt, on the second day after the day notice is mailed. If sent by email, all correspondence is considered received immediately. Where Client fails to provide a valid mailing address or email to Law Firm, all written notice is waived. Except when prohibited by law, any notice required to be sent by mail may instead be sent by email with the same legal effect as if sent by mail.
No Tax Advice Or Liability: Law Firm does not employ any tax attorneys or handle any matters focused on tax issues. We only provide general basic information about taxes with the caveat that the client consult with a CPA or tax attorney for any matter with tax consequences. We do obtain tax ids as part of our business formation services. We do not and will not perform any tax filings whatsoever, even for businesses we setup for clients. Law Firm assumes no liability arising from tax matters affecting Client including the failure of Client to file any tax returns or pay any taxes. Clients must promptly respond to any demands made on Law Firm to pay any taxes owed by Client.
Confidential Communications / Joint Representation: Law Firm is required to maintain confidentiality in its relationship with Client. However, it is the responsibility of Client to provide Law Firm with secure means of communicating with Client to maintain this confidentiality. These means include but are not limited to: phones where Law Firm can leave messages, a secure email account or file sharing portal, fax number for Law Firm to fax sensitive documents, mailing address that will sufficiently conceal the origin of correspondence from Law Firm. Client will explicitly identify any means of communication or persons who are to be avoided by Law Firm. Where Law Firm is representing multiple Clients jointly, Client acknowledges and agrees Law Firm has no duty of confidentiality between each individual Client.
Disclaimer of Guaranty: Although Law Firm may offer an opinion about possible results regarding the subject matter of this agreement, Law Firm cannot guarantee any particular result. Client acknowledges that Law Firm has made no promises about the outcome and that any opinion offered by Law Firm in the future will not constitute a guaranty.
Intellectual Property: All documents produced by this office are proprietary and licensed to the client for use in a particular transaction only. The client does not purchase ownership of our documents or the right to use them in other transactions. Our documents may not be reproduced or re-used in any manner without prior permission. Accordingly, documents are supplied only in uneditable PDF format. Please do not ask for editable forms or templates. Because the content of our documents is creative and proprietary, there is no “return” once these are delivered. This firm will take every reasonable and necessary step to prevent theft of its intellectual property
Indemnification of Law Firm: Client agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Law Firm for any and all liability, disputes, claims, lawsuits, or judgments against Law Firm or Client arising from Law Firm’s representation of Client. However, this indemnification shall not attempt to waive any act of malpractice by Law Firm which is unwaivable by law.
Original Documents: It is the Client’s responsibility to retrieve all original documents left in the possession of Law Firm. We never retain original documents. We do not accept any liability for storing any originals of any kind.
File Retention Policy: Our copy of a client’s file (whether electronic or hard-copy) remains the property of Law Firm and may be disposed of or deleted at any time without notice to or the consent of the client. Reproduction of our file, if possible, will incur fees based on an hourly rate of $100 with a minimum fee of $150. Law Firm disclaims any responsibility for keeping any files (whether electronic or hard-copy) for any specific period. All hard-copy files are shredded before disposal.
Accuracy of Information Provided: It is the sole responsibility of Client to verify that information provided to Attorney by Client is accurate. Such information includes but is not limited to: Client’s legal name and aliases; legal descriptions; VIN numbers; names; addresses; any information used to identify a specific person, entity, or thing; whether a person acted in their own capacity or as an agent; etc…. Client assumes all responsibility for any consequences, liability, attorney fees, and costs resulting from Client providing Attorney with inaccurate or incomplete information.
Experts, Consultants, and Investigators: Law Firm may employ experts, consultants, and investigators to assist in the handling of Client’s case at the expense of the Client. All such experts, consultants, and investigators shall report directly and exclusively to Law Firm.
Association of Additional Counsel: Law Firm may, at Law Firm’s discretion, employ associate counsel at no additional charge to Client.
Texas Law to Apply: This agreement will be construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Texas, and all obligations of the parties are performable in Round Rock, Williamson County, Texas.
Parties Bound: This agreement is binding on and inures to the benefit of the parties and their respective heirs, executors, administrators, legal representatives, successors, and assigns. When the context requires, singular nouns and pronouns include the plural.
Legal Construction: In case any one or more of the provisions contained in this agreement is held to be invalid, illegal, or unenforceable in any respect, such invalidity, illegality, or unenforceability will not affect any other provision, and this agreement will be construed as if such invalid, illegal, or unenforceable provision did not exist.
Dispute Resolution: In the event of a dispute regarding any matter concerning this Agreement, the Parties agree to attempt to resolve any and all disputes amicably and without litigation. Both parties agree to attend mediation in Williamson County, Texas before commencing any legal action. Venue for resolving any dispute is Williamson County, Texas. Client agrees to pay all cost and expenses, including reasonable attorney’s fees, incurred by Law Firm in enforcing this contract.
Notice to Client: The State Bar of Texas requires that we provide the following information [Tex. Gov't Code § 81.079]:
The State Bar of Texas investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct committed by Texas attorneys. Although not every complaint against or dispute with a lawyer involves professional misconduct, the State Bar Office of General Counsel will provide you with information about how to file a complaint. For more information, call toll-free 1-800-932-1900.
© Anderson Law Firm, 2007.