Friday, December 21, 2018

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

As we close our the year, I thank all those who have called the firm this year. 
I received over 2,000 calls from potential clients.  Many of those were helped with a simple 5-10 minute phone consultation.
Over 400 of those who called paid for a longer phone or office consultation.  During that consultation, I gave enough information to allow many to handle the matter themselves.
This year, I represented about 200 people in various matters, including divorces, landlord-tenant, consumer, and employment cases.
Next year, if you need legal assistance you should do the following:
(1) research the names of potential attorneys;
(2) call several offices to get their legal opinions;
(3) don't rely on one opinion to determine how to proceed;
(4) visit 1-3 attorneys in their offices;
(5) determine if you can handle it yourself;
(6) select the attorney who fits your comfort level, budget, and experience requirements;
(7) be realistic in your expectations; and
(8) think about calling this Firm for your legal needs.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Third Person Credit Card Payments

When people don't have credit cards or debit cards, on occasion, credit/debit cardholders give permission for friends or family members to use their cards.  Although it's extremely risky for the cardholders to act as guarantors for the payment of those purchases, it's often as risky for the merchant who accepts those cards.

For merchants, in addition to the obvious stolen card, there are the scam artists who conspire with the cardholders to scream unauthorized transaction or failure to give products or services. For small business owners, this means taking an hour or two our of an already hectic day to respond to the credit card companies.

For the McGill Law Firm, effective Monday, November 5th, the Firm will no longer accept credit or debit cards unless the client's name is on the card. If a friend or family member wants to fund litigation, funds will have to be given directly to the client.  The client will make payment for legal services through certified funds.

Sorry for any inconvenience this new policy may cause. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


The Firm has closed the 1226 Royal Drive office in Conyers. Nevertheless, if you have business or a case in Conyers or Covington, we still have
access to conference rooms at two other convenient locations in Conyers. 
Those meetings are by special appointment only. 

In addition, Conyers and Covington clients will be charged  for travel and conference room expenses.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

What To Expect After You Receive A Pay or Quit Notice in Georgia

After you receive a pay or quit notice, you can pay and stay, fight the claim, or leave.  Unless the landlord releases you from the deliquent rent, you should expect a civil suit or collection action even if you leave within the time required in the notice. Other fees and rents may also accrue.

If you decide to stay and not pay by the deadline, expect the following:

- The landlord will file a dispossessory action.

- You will receive a copy of the affidavit  through personal service or tack and mail.

- You will have a 7 day deadline to file an answer and counterclaim.

- You can pay take advantage of the tender rule in rent cases by paying rent, fees, and court costs to the landlord before filing an answer. If the landlord refuses, that refusal should go in your answer.  If the landlord accepts full payment, still file a timely answer and include that payment in your answer.

- If you file your answer with the Court, the next step is to appear at a hearing. 

- Even if you settle with the landlord before court, check with the clerk's office to confirm the case has been removed from the docket.

- If the only issue is rent payment, personal emergencies (sickness, family death, job loss) are not defenses for non-payment.

- If you lose your first case, you can always file an appeal with State or Superior Court if you have a legitimate defense you believe was ignored by the court, or you believe evidence or witnesses you did not have in the lower court would have changed the outcome. That appeal must be filed within 7 days of the Court's judgment.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Types of Landlord-Tenant Cases the Firm Will Accept (Effective Oct. 1, 2018)

Monday, October 1st, marks the 16th anniversary of the Firm.  Experience and client referrals have brought an increased demand for services.  In the last three months, the Firm has seen an explosion in demand.  Because I want to remain small without sacrificing client satisfaction, certain services will be discontinued.

The Firm will Continue to Accept the Following Cases:

                1.   Dispossessory actions (small landlords and all tenants, hourly rate and flat fee)
                2.   Lease review and negotiations (commercial and residential)
                3.   Civil actions with a value of $20,000 or more for failure to repair, negligence,  breach of contract, nuisance, breach of the warranty of habitability, etc.(flat and hourly rate arrangements)
                4.   Repair and stay negotiations (hourly rate only)
                5.   Breach of lease claims (wrongful termination)(hourly rate only)
                6.   Civil actions (wrongful eviction, conversion)
                7.   Return of Security Deposit (defense of small landlords and prosection by tenants whose landlords have more than 10 rental units) 
                8.   Appeals to State or Superior Court (hourly rate only)
                9.   Appeals to Court of Appeals or Supreme Court (hourly rate only)
                10. Litigation for damages to rental property (pursue and defend).
                11. Fair Housing violations claims and defenses (all tenants and all landlords)(hourly rate only)

The Firm will no Longer Accept the Following Cases:

                1.   Claims by tenants against small landlords for failure to return a security deposit
                2.   Negotiations to terminate leases because of a failure to repair, nuisance, or insects.
                3.   Roommate disputes
                4.   Family-related landlord-tenant disputes unless a written lease exists
                5.   Health problems caused by mold 
                6.   Defense of tenants in dispossessory actions for failure to pay rent. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Most non-criminal attorneys lead predictable lives.  The week to week schedule can remain firm.
However, in some practices, like mine, the day is day is totally unpredictable.  My two primary areas of practice are landlord-tenant and family law (divorces, child support, child custody, legitimation).

Many landlord-tenant cases have very short, but volatile lives.  While working on demand letters for security deposits or nonemergency repairs, I can receive 3-5 calls a day from people who just received pay or quit notices, lease termination notices, or dispossessory affidavits. When those calls come in, they are treated like the people who come to an emergency room with chest pains.  Those cases are placed at the beginning of the line, triaged and monitored for about 7-14 days. 

So, what happens to the initial demand letters?  They are the people in the emergency room with stomach aches, broken bones, and busted lips.  Their queue numbers may go from 3 to 8 to 2 to 4 to 2 to 1 (finally).    Just like a real-life emergency room, some people who have the stomach aches and broken bones leave,  go to another hospital, self-treat at home, or wait until their numbers are called.  For those who wait, once the doctor sees them, they are satisfied with the diagnosis and prognosis.  Of course, they are not happy with the late treatment.

In my practice, there are few tenant attorneys who have the experience and offer reasonable rates.  So, the wait is inevitable.  For those who cannot wait to have their stomach ache looked at, other attorneys may be able to help.  Those attorneys may or may not have similar wait times.

Starting October 1, 2018, several cases I normally take will no longer be accepted, and new policies will be enforced.  Those cases I no longer handle can probably be taken by lawyers with 1/5 of my experience.  Foregoing the simple cases will decrease the queue and allow for a smoother system.

First and foremost, if you are a tenant, all fees will have to paid at the time the contract is returned.  Additional activities not in the contract will be billed by a handwritten invoice with payment due within 10 days.

Additionally, for tenants who want to sue their landlords for withholding their security deposits, the leases have to allow for attorneys' fees for the prevailing party and the landlords must have more than 10 rental units.

Also, the posted initial consultation office rate of $85-150 for 30 minutes will be strictly enforced.  Therefore, if the meeting exceeds 30 minutes, you will be charged for the additional time.

For dispossessory actions,  the Firm no longer accepts checks if payment is made within 7 days of the hearing.

For appeals to state or superior court, the Firm will charge an hourly rate.  The first 10 hours plus estimated expenses must be paid with the submission of the signed contract.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

New Rate Changes Starting July 1, 2018

As expenses have increased, the Firm has found it necessary to increase its initial consultation and hourly rates.

Call or email for the new price sheet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Firm's Free 5 Minute Screening Consultation & Paid Office Consultation


The Firm offers five minute screening consultations at no charge to provide general information and to determine the need for a paid 30-90 minute office consultation.  Approximately 60-75% of the time, the callers wants one or two questions answered or want to be guided on issues like failure to repair, renewal/nonrenewal notice rights, and security deposit disputes.  In those instances, 5 minutes may be all that is required.  However, if additional services are needed, a paid consultation must be scheduled. 

During the phone consultation, expect numerous interruptions as I try to obtain relevant information.  Although you may want to tell your full story during the call, it's not the best use of your time. 

For landlord-tenant cases, the first questions I will ask are the following:

(1) the name of the other party (for conflict check purposes)
(2) whether you live in a house or an apartment
(3) the city and county of the rental property

If you have documents that you want me to see, the five minute screening consultation is not the time to read sentences to me.  Lay people often miss important provisions in documents.   Therefore, an office consultation is the best time for me to review the documents to determine your options. 

Although I offer paid phone consultations, I don't review documents e-mailed to me in preparation for the phone conference unless the matter is prepaid.   Any time taken before the call will be included in the charge.  For paid phone consultations, prepayment for the hour through credit card, debit card, or Venmo is required.  Prior to the end of the time, I will advise the caller of the time expiration.  You can choose to continue the call and incur an additional charge.

Keep in mind, litigation is expensive.  You get what you pay for in many cases.  I've been in 100s of court sessions.  I see people who could have benefited from having an attorney with them in court.  Even if they couldn't afford representation during the trial or hearing, at a minimum a 30 minute consultation may have put them on notice on what to expect and the pitfalls to avoid.