DO YOU OFFER CONTINGENT FEE AGREEMENTS
Yes and No. The firm offers a “hybrid” contingency fee agreement in appropriate cases but does not offer “pure” fee agreements where the client pays nothing unless we win. A hybrid agreement typically involves payment of $200 per hour plus 20% of the net recovery of damages awarded by settlement or trial. Our philosophy is that the client needs to have “skin in the game” or the relationship suffers. The Cochell Law Firm will, in some cases, entertain a contingent fee agreement in situations involving collections.
DO YOU OFFER FLAT FEE AGREEMENTS?
Usually No in Lawsuits, but Maybe in Transactions. Flat fees usually result in either the lawyer or the client getting a windfall. In some cases, we can estimate the cost of conducting discovery in a case, or the cost of a deposition to help the client plan financing a lawsuit. However, business lawyers who tell clients that the case will be “low cost” usually end up in a dispute with their clients. So — I am conservative and will give you an estimate non-binding estimate. Flat fees are appropriate in some business transactions that are relatively uncomplicated.
HOW DO YOU ADD VALUE TO MY COMPANY?
I call it strategic lawyering. There are plenty of business lawyers and trial attorneys who will take your case and they seem to see the world through blinders solving only the problem, or pieces of the problem at hand, rather than asking questions about your business that help solve problems that you did not realize existed before they cost you money. Strategic lawyering keeps you out of lawsuits and helps raise your consciousness about business practices and pitfalls to avoid.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I CANNOT PAY MY FEES
Like any business, lawyers need to get paid to "keep the lights on" or to avoid financial hardship. So, in some cases, we cease work until you can pay or until you can provide a payment plan that realistically liquidates the debt in a mutually agreed time frame. It is extremely important that you set realistic goals for legal projects at the front end of requesting legal services and do so within your means. We will always try to work with a client, if possible, by deferring payments or accepting reduced payments over a longer period of time. Like everything else, we try to adapt the solution to the client and the overall circumstances of our representation of the client.
HOW SHOULD I PROVIDE DOCUMENTS IN A LAWSUIT?
Whether you are retaining us in a transaction or in a lawsuit, you should never provide original documents to a lawyer or his paralegal, unless you have a legal duty to provide the original. Unfortunately, documents get lost or filed in the wrong file. Scan your original documents if possible, and keep your original documents safe! Alternatively, make copies to provide to my office.
IF I WROTE EMAILS THAT HURT MY CASE, SHOULD I "LOSE" OR DESTROY THE EVIDENCE?
First, let the lawyers figure out what hurts your case or does not. You may think a document hurts you, but it may not hurt your case for reasons that do not become apparent until you are in litigation. Lawyers can often formulate a strategy for the document to either explain the document to a judge or jury. In addition, the emails may well turn up through a different source (i.e. the recipient or a third party who reviewed the document). Secondly, destruction or ”spoliation” of documents often results in a trial judge sanctioning the party who destroys the documents, particularly if it intentional. Sanctions can include (a) getting your case dismissed or one or more of your defenses stricken; (b) the court imposing attorney’s fees on you and to the other side for the costs in forensically reconstructing your documents, for example; and (c) giving the jury an instruction that they may presume that the evidence destroyed would have been favorable to the other party. Lawsuits are tough enough without shooting yourself in the foot by destroying documents.