Friday, September 28, 2018
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
LIFE & DEATH MAY NOT BE INVOLVED, BUT THE WEEK IN THE LIFE OF A CIVIL LANDLORD-TENANT AND FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY CAN SEE ONE EMERGENCY AFTER ANOTHER
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.