Articles Posted in General Information

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Greater Capital Region

One of the stranger aspects of having a website and blog is publishing all sorts of information on being an attorney in the Capital District and still having people call me from all over the nation, asking me to represent them in states or counties that I do not practice in. Clearly, they found me on the internet. And, just as clearly, they never took the time to actually read where I practice law.

While I have, on occasion, practiced outside of the eleven (11) county Greater Capital Region, I mostly practice within it, and usually close to home in the counties of Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, and Albany.

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Depositphotos_1006165_XS-300x200I’ve been practicing law now for over twenty-four (24) years. On one level, it doesn’t feel like a long time at all. Yet, on another, when I see how young I look in the photos of my swearing in, way back in August of 1992, I realize it’s been a very long time indeed. I’m a bit fatter, grayer, balder, and, older now.

When I started as an attorney, I had three basic goals in mind, all of pretty much equal value: to learn something new every day, to help people, and to earn a decent living. I think this is pretty much what every human being wants from their lives. For twenty-four years, I’ve mostly been able to live that kind of life.

Until recently.

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615 Post Depositphotos_2400666_XS.jpgAnd now, we come to the third document that my potential clients read – the retainer agreement. This is the newly-streamlined version and it only runs six pages. One can easily read it within five minutes. Over time, I’ve found that potential clients were much more concerned about the various costs of legal representation than anything else. Makes sense.

And, over time, I’ve come to realize that the best way to give my clients the biggest bang for their collective bucks is to do something that might, on its face, seem counter-intuitive: I’ve decided to cap most of my legal fees. Not all, but most.

Think about it: how tough can it be to represent someone in Family Court? I’ve been an attorney for almost 22 years and I’ve been a family law practitioner for over 12 years. I think I now have enough experience that I can achieve a settlement for my clients, on reasonable terms, for a guaranteed maximum fee. And, in the event that the legal matter is incapable of settling on terms that my client thinks are reasonable, then I will charge a specific amount for each and every day, or part thereof, of trial.

My billing rate is extremely reasonable – and now my retainers are as well. Take a look …
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614 Post Depositphotos_2400666_XS.jpgThe next thing any potential client reads, upon entering my office, is a simple three page document called the “Statement of Client’s Rights and Responsibilities”. It is so important that it is provided to the potential client prior to any discussions regarding the retainer agreement.

As you might guess, this document is also prescribed by the Rules of Court, namely in Part 1400, specifically section 1400.2.

This document is, like the Statement of Client’s Rights, quite commonsensical and self-evident. Still, I always find it helpful to reacquaint myself with this document from time to time, to keep it fresh in my mind.
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613 Post Depositphotos_2400666_XS.jpgThe first thing any potential client reads, upon entering my office, is a simple one page, ten clause document called the “Statement of Client’s Rights”. It is so important that it is both framed and posted on my law office’s wall and it is placed on coffee tables throughout the office as well. I also make a point of handing it out to each and every person who enters my office.

Why is this document posted on the wall of my law office? Simple: I am required by the Rules of Court to do so. Specifically, Part 1210 of the Rules of Court spells this out in detail:

“Every attorney with an office located in the State of New York shall insure that there is posted in that office, in a manner visible to clients of the attorney, a statement of client’s rights in the form set forth below. Attorneys in offices that provide legal services without fee may delete from the statement those provisions dealing with fees. The statement shall contain the following …”
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601 Post Depositphotos_3921391_XS.jpgEvery now and again, changes have to be made and that’s certainly the case with this website. While it is generally structured the way I want it to be, some serious modifications are in order, especially with regard to the listings for my practice areas.

I practice almost exclusively in Family Court, Supreme Court, and the Appellate Division, working on family law matters, matrimonial law matters, and a variety of appeals. My primary market is the county in which I reside, Saratoga County, together with the more populous counties of the Capital District, namely Schenectady County, Albany County, and Rensselaer County.

While fellow attorneys might understand what practicing in these areas entails, most non-attorneys really don’t have any idea. And, I find that my website pages for Practice Areas is somewhat deficient in that it fails to fully convey all of the many aspects of the law in which I am regularly involved.

And I need to change that with a simple click of the mouse.
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405 Post Depositphotos_8910556_xs.jpgA man with three buttocks! The over-40s in the audience will certainly catch that Pythonesque reference. “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” was an amazing thing to discover as a kid and it almost certainly guaranteed my geek status in college when I could quote large chunks of dialogue from memory from various bizarre skits and movies (read: “The Witch Scene” from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”). In fact, if memory serves, one of the requirements for my getting into a fraternity at M.I.T. was to engage in a spontaneous reenactment of The Witch Scene in Boston Common, in full view of the public. The brothers’ hope was one of public humiliation. Instead, it was one of public acclamation, since, as we all know, Bostonians are some hep dudes. I got bettah!
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201 Post Depositphotos_1291876_XS.jpgArticles 71 through 75:

And here we come to the end of it at last. This last series of articles accomplishes two important functions: it specifically spells out what the client is retaining the attorney to do for the client and it makes clear to both the client and the attorney when and how the attorney-client relationship is concluded with regard to the litigation at hand.

And, really, this is what any decent retainer agreement is always about: when do services commence?; what are those services?; how much do those services cost?; what is the objective of those services?; and when do the services end?

It’s that simple.
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199 Post Depositphotos_1291876_XS.jpgArticles 68 through 70:

The remainder of the retainer agreement includes what is known in the profession as “boilerplate”. This is merely contractual language that is commonly found in many or most retainer agreements simply because it so perfectly captures specific aspects of the contractual arrangement between an attorney and his client.
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198 Post Depositphotos_1291876_XS.jpgArticles 64 through 67:

Here are four more articles which deal with matters that are patently obvious to fellow attorneys but may not even occur to clients. These articles basically deal with the inevitable obstacles one encounters in litigation. Those obstacles can be quite annoying when they turn out to be specific individuals with a reputation for being “difficult”. And, for the client, “difficult” almost always translates into “expensive”.
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