Pricing Structure, Free Legal Services and Payment Plans

I often get the question from prospective clients, “Do you do take pro bono cases?”  The short answer is, “yes, I do.”  However, I don’t work for free for people that come in off the streets.  For my entire career I have volunteered my time doing pro bono divorces through the Toledo Bar Association, donating my time as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children, for Channel 11 Ask the Attorney and occasionally for special clinics put on by local bar associations.  I’ve donated more than 6 lifetime gallons of blood to the Red Cross.  I’ve fostered animals for the Toledo Humane Society.  I’ve served on the boards of a few community non-profit organizations and am currently the Secretary of the Toledo Bar Association Board of Directors.

But I don’t perform free or discounted legal services for clients who contact my office directly for a couple reasons.  One reason is that I don’t have the time or resources to make sure that the right people are getting my volunteered time.  I have had people who have asked me to work for free who have had a nicer, newer phone than I do.  I’ve had people wearing $250 sneakers.  Or carrying a $7.00 coffee.  Legal Aid, the bar association and other organizations have procedures in place to make sure that the people who need free legal advice can get it.  I don’t.

Two – I want clients who are invested in their case.  While it would be great if money wasn’t a factor in any of life’s decisions, it is always a consideration.  The cost of my time for a trial is a consideration for me, and it should be for my client as well.

Third – I have to support myself and my family, pay overhead and student loans.  People think that attorneys are rich.  Admittedly, I have a very comfortable life, but I have bills to pay just like everyone else.

I also get asked about payment plans, and I have similar answers.  I used to offer payment plans.  However, I have been burned many, many times.  And nothing is more frustrating than working for a client on the promise of payment, and getting that client everything he asked for, and never hearing from that client again.

You won’t work for free, so please don’t ask me to.

So, now you want to know what I’m going to charge you.  Different services come with different pricing structures.  Some cases, with finite time frames I do on a flat fee which can range anywhere from $500 to several thousand.  Other cases I do on an hourly basis.  I require a retainer to get started, and out of that retainer I generally take $200/hour as I earn it.  My retainer varies based on the complexity of the case.  A divorce with children, a house and a vacation home, complex pensions, and the probability of spousal support is going to cost a lot more than a divorce with no kids and no property.  I charge for travel time, so if you want me to go three counties away, I am going to need a bigger retainer.  I am generally willing to give you a price over the phone.  So please give me a call – 419-243-3922 – and ask me what I would charge you, but don’t ask me to work for free.