Friday, July 15, 2016

Attorney-Client Conflicts in Litigation

As many know, an attorney cannot represent two people with conflicting interests. Because of the small number of landlord-tenant attorneys and the large number of calls, texts, and e-mails I receive, conflicts arise from time to time. When it does arise, I have to excuse myself from the matter.

Most times it occurs when a small landlord and tenant call, e-mail, or text me about the same matter. Once it is discovered through conflict checks, meetings, documents, and other disclosures, I cannot represent either side. I do a general conflicts check at the initial 10 minute call, and a detailed one before a retainer agreement is sent.

With any attorney, it would behoove the potential client to meet with the attorney at least 10 days before a deadline or trial/hearing to allow the detailed conflict check to go through before the attorney-client agreement is presented for signature. This will give you time to (1) review the contract; and (2) find a new attorney if you don't like the terms of the contract or a conflict is disclosed.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Going Paperless

When a law firm or other business goes paperless, the necessity to keep reams and reams of pages of documents are eliminated. It saves the client time and money. Clients can e-mail or fax documents to counsel without spending money on postage. Similarly, counsel can exchange discovery without the need of printing and mailing. Currently, even courts have electronic filing to save on money, time and paper.

This paperless revolution is also great for clients. It saves time and money and attorneys can keep their clients updated through e-mail exchanges. Once a case closes, the attorney can give years of documents to a client by handing her a thumb drive or disk, or by putting the documents on the cloud for the client to upload.

Even today, there are clients (most are over 50) who cannot comprehend and sometimes become bitter because a case they thought was so important can be placed on such a tiny medium and put in a small envelope to be picked up. These same people may not be around to see it, but one can expect that soon an entire court docket for a particular year will be stored on media the size of a pinhead and accessed with ease.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

New Attorney Fees Coming for all Landlord-Tenant Matters Effective May 15, 2016

Effective May 15, 2016, the Firm will change most of its fees and pricing structures for landlord-tenant matters.

Phone Consultations - 10 minute free screening
Initial Consultations - $75/hr. - $250/hr.
Follow Up Consultations - $300/hr.

Prepare and File Dispossessory Affidavits (Residential Electronic Filing) - $400.00 plus filing fees and service
Prepare and File Dispossessory Affidavits (Residential Paper Filing) -- $500.00 plus filing fees
Prepare and File Dispossessory Answer (Residential Electronic Filing) - $400.00
Prepare and File Dispossessory Answer (Residential Paper Filing) - $500.00
Prepare and File Dispossessory Counterclaim (Residential) - $250.00 plus 35% of recovery

Prepare and File Commercial Dispossessory Affidavit or Answer/Counterclaim - $330/hr. plus filing fees and service

Interview Clients and Witnesses - $300/hr.
Other Communications (phone, fax, text) - $250/hr.

Travel time - $150/hr.

Prepare for Hearing - $300/hr.
Draft Settlement Agreement, Amend Documents, Draft Writs, or Draft Other Court Document - $300/hr.

Subpoenas - $150/hr. plus filing fees and service

All other filings not listed (Residential and Commercial)- $300/hr.

Client is responsible for all expenses (copies, mileage, witness fees, service, parking, subpoenas)

Estimated payments for the case are due upon return of the contract.



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Do Your Research and Take Your Time When Served With A Summons And Complaint/Statement of Claim

When a person is served with a summons and complaint, in most instances, the response filing deadline is 20-30 days (depending on the court). One exception to this rule is a dispossessory action. In Georgia, the response time for dispossessories is seven days. As a result you have to act quickly to protect your rights.

Nevertheless, if you have a 20-30 day response time from the date of service, you have time to call around to find an attorney who suits your budget and time constraints. If you're served on Monday, take 3-5 days to consult with several lawyers. Find out their theories of your case. 7-10 days after service, make your decision.

There is no rational reason to receive service of process on Monday and retain an attorney within 24-48 hours of service. I find it amazing that in many cases, people spend more time researching a $500 television or phone than they do researching an attorney that costs much more than those electronic devices. Indeed, depending on the case, the television or phone may malfunction before your case comes to judgment or settlement.

Suggestions

(1) Talk to 3-5 attorneys by phone (not their legal assistants or paralegals).
(2) Visit your top 1 -3 choices.
(3) Take all proposed contracts home to read and compare. Some provisions can be negotiated.
(4) Make your selection after full contemplation.

Monday, April 11, 2016

New Office - Stone Mountain, Georgia

The McGill Law Firm has added an office in Dekalb County.

The office is located in Stone Mountain, GA

925 Main Street
Suite 300-36
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Office hours at this location are Mon. - Fri. (11:00am - 3:00pm)
Extended hours are available at the firm's Roswell and Norcross locations.

All appointments can be made at the firm's main number - (678)-353-3217

Too Many Attorneys on One Case is a Warning Sign Most Attorneys Cannot Ignore

When searching for an attorney, take your time selecting counsel. Make sure your attorney is right for your temperment, time requirements, and budget. Also, pay attention to criticisms others make about you and your case.

Once you select counsel, be mindful of warnings she gives about withdrawing from the case if (1) payments aren't made; (2) unnecessary and frequent calls don't cease; (3) disruptive behavior doesn't stop; or (4) required documents and other information aren't produced. Keep a good attorney rather than running him off. Indeed, when a potential client discloses he has gone through several attorneys through dismissals or withdrawals, red flags pop up. Many lawyers won't touch the case because it's a sign of trouble. In those instances, it is irrelevant how much money the case is worth.

After several years, I have joined the majority of my fellow attorney in heeding these red flags. As a result, effective April 1, 2016, if a person has already had an attorney on a matter, the potential client must sign a waiver to allow me to discuss the matter with former counsel. The waiver will notify counsel (s)he is permitted to speak fully and honestly with the firm. If the potential client had legitimate reasons for dismissing the first, second, or third counsel, there should be no hesitation to sign the waiver and pay for counsel's time.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rental Car Disclosures and Coverage

This Thanksgiving, many will rent cars to travel to their destinations. Seasoned car renters know and understand the coverage options and their limits. For those who rarely rent, call your insurance company first to see the type of coverage you may have under your policy. Also check to see what drivers are covered under that policy. If you decide to use the rental company's insurance, don't put that coverage at risk by failing to make key disclosures.

1. If asked, disclose what states you intend to travel. This is especially true if you intend to drive the car to or through New York. Some rental locations specifically prohibit renters from driving in New York.
2. On the rental form, disclose the identity of all drivers you intend to grant permission to operate the vehicle. More importantly, don't deviate from that list throughout your visit. If an unauthorized driver is involved in an accident, you and the driver may be left with no coverage and be held liable for the car and any injuries that resulted from the accident.

So, throwing the car keys at your nephew to go shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday is nice when you have your own car, but it's a liability risk when you have a rental. Just explain this to those who want to use the car and move on to something else like how horrible the Cowboys are this season or what you intend to buy on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.