Will My Divorce Lawyer and I Have a Written Retainer Agreement?
As a former chair of the Ethics Committee in Middlesex County, New Jersey, I am well aware that communication is essential in any attorney-client relationship. Moreover, I find that in the emotional charged area of divorce and family law, many levels of communication. The most obvious is that, as lawyer and counselor, it is imperative that I explain the law here in New Jersey in a manner that my client has a clear understanding of how it applies to their case. Additionally, I will often provide “divorce tips,” to my clients, such as how to best protect the children during a custody dispute.
With that all said, another way my law firm ensures a positive and efficient attorney-client relationship is for each client to review the Family Retainer Agreement. The retainer agreement explains what the client may expect from both the lawyers and our support staff while handling a divorce, child support, or child custody on behalf of our client. Furthermore, my law firm’s retainer agreement contains a statement which includes both the right’s of our client’s as well as what responsibilities they have to our lawyers during the course of our representation.
The first order of business once a client decides that team of attorneys shall be representing them is to email a Retainer Agreement, a copy of which you may please find below. As always, your inquiry is invited. Thank you.
LAW OFFICES OF EDWARD R. WEINSTEIN, L.L.C.
FAMILY RETAINER AGREEMENT:
This law firm will represent you with respect to certain legal problems concerning your family law dispute here in the state of New Jersey.
We have discussed your representation and explained to you all services rendered by our firm and your rights and responsibilities toward our firm. A copy of the “Statement of Client Rights and Responsibilities in Civil Family Actions” is annexed to this agreement.
1. The primary obligation of this firm will be to represent you in your application at the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Division.NO GUARANTY
2. Judges are granted great discretion in family law matters. As a result, this firm cannot guarantee the result in any aspect of your matterREPRESENTATION BY THE FIRM
3. An attorney of this firm’s matrimonial department will have primary responsibility for managing your case. Members of this firm and associates may also participate in your representation. You may communicate with the attorney in charge or with any of our other lawyers who may be handling your case. Additionally, certain tasks may be assigned to paralegal assistants or law clerks.CLIENT RESPONSIBILITY
4. A copy of the “Statement of Client Rights and Responsibilities in Civil Family Actions” is annexed to this Agreement and provides a thorough listing of your responsibilities to this firm. You must cooperate fully with the Law Firm. You must communicate with us on a regular basis. The completion of your case may require your participation in litigation and may require you to go to Court. Your failure to cooperate in litigation could result in an adverse decision.LEGAL FEES
5. This firm will begin work on your case upon the payment of $_______.00. This sum will be used to pay your counsel fees on an ongoing basis regarding your child support/visitation/custody matter. This sum will be used to pay your fees and the disbursements charged to you. If a plenary hearing is required, an additional retainer will be needed. The Law Firm will send you bills from time to time, but not less frequently than every ninety days, provided that services have been rendered during that period. All bills for legal fees, costs and expenses are due upon receipt and will be paid from the retainer until it is exhausted. At the conclusion of your representation, any monies remaining will be forwarded to you. If the retainer sum is exhausted prior to the conclusion of your representation, as additional retainer sum will be required not to exceed the amount of the initial retainer. Should a subsequent retainer become exhausted, the same procedure shall apply.
(a) The current hourly rate: EDWARD R. WEINSTEIN, ESQ. is $400.00.
(b) The current hourly rate: EDWARD A. WOJCEICHOWSKI, ESQ. is $300.00.
(c) The current hourly rate: ELIZABETH ROZIN-GOLINDER, ESQ. is $300.00.
(d) If you do not pay our fees within 30 days of the date of your receipt of our bill, commencing on the 31st day following receipt of the bill, you must pay a late charge on the balance owed at the rate of 12% per annum or such maximum rate as is permitted by the Court Rules or by the law of New Jersey, whichever is lower.
(e) The hourly rate is subject to periodic increases upon 30 days notice to you. Hourly rates are customarily adjusted each January 1st.
(f) You are responsible for the payment of all legal expenses and costs promptly upon the issuance of bills to you. It is possible that your spouse either will agree to pay will be required to pay for some or all of your legal expenses and costs. Any money that is actually paid by your spouse will be applied to reduce the amount of your fee. The Law Firm is not required to sue your spouse to collect any monies due.
(g) You must review all invoices issued to you carefully and promptly following receipt. You are obligation to bring to the attention of the attorney any concerns or problems you may have with any invoice, in writing, within four (4) weeks of issuance. If the attorney did not hear from you, in writing, within four (4) weeks, as aforesaid, then the Law Firm can reasonably expect that you are satisfied with the invoice and will rely upon that expectation in providing future services to you.ADDITIONAL FEES
6. This agreement does not include services rendered which may be related to the family law case, but which may not necessarily be specifically before the family court. If you need representation regarding any of the matters set forth below, they may be supplied to you for an additional fee, which will be agreed upon prior to the commencement of work on such matters. It may become necessary for you to sign a separate retainer agreement if additional services are requested.
(a) Real estate transactions;
(b) Municipal court actions or appearances;
(c) Tort claims;
(e) Drafting of wills;
(f) Any action directly against a family corporation and/or its stockholders or directors;
(g) Defense of creditors’ actions or mortgage foreclosure actions;
(h) Any other matter, which is not specifically brought before the family court for resolution.
7. You must pay any experts retained by this firm on your behalf. Before experts are retained, we will advise you. Expert bills will be due upon receipt.ADDITIONAL COSTS
8. In addition to legal fees, you will be responsible to pay the following expenses and disbursements, if applicable:
(a) Filing fees (h) Telephone toll calls
(b) Service fees (i) Expert fees
(c) Investigator charges (j) Postage
(d) Subpoena witness fees (k) Computer research charges
(e) Transcripts (l) Mileage and travel expenses
(f) Messenger services (m) Miscellaneous out-of-pocket
Expenses and disbursements shall be billed no less frequently than once every ninety days, provided that expenses and disbursements have been incurred during that period.
9. By signing this agreement, you admit:
(a) That you have read this agreement.
(b) That you have had an opportunity to ask questions with respect to this agreement.
(c) That you have received a satisfactory reply to any questions you have asked with respect to the content of this Agreement.
(d) That you have received a copy of this Agreement.
EDWARD R. WEINSTEIN, ESQ. (client)
STATEMENT OF CLIENT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
IN CIVIL FAMILY ACTION
A. CLIENT RIGHTS
1. Clients have the right to have their attorneys diligently advocate their interests within the bounds of the law and legal ethics.
2. Clients have the right to have the fee arrangement fully and completely explained prior to entering into any agreement for services.
3. Clients have the right to have a written retainer agreement describing the financial terms of the relationship between the client and the attorney.
4. Clients have the right to refuse to enter into any unacceptable fee arrangement or modification of a fee arrangement.
5. Clients have the right to be provided information as to the attorney(s) who will be primarily responsible for their matter and all other legal staff who will be working on the matter as well as information as to the costs for those individuals.
6. Clients have the right to be provided bills on a regular basis, itemized as to the charges and time spent on each activity.
7. Clients have the right to be informed of and be present at any court proceeding involving their case unless otherwise directed by the court.
8. Clients have the right to be provided copies of all documents presented to the court by any party in their matter unless otherwise ordered by the court.
9. Clients have the right to be afforded reasonable access to their attorneys.
10. Clients have the right to make the final decision as to whether, when, and how to settle their cases and as to economic and other positions to be taken with respect to issues in the case.B. CLIENT RESPONSIBILITIES
1. Clients shall provide full and accurate information to their attorneys regarding their matter.
2. Clients shall be available to participate in a timely fashion regarding their matter and to respond reasonably to requests from their counsel.
3. Clients shall advise their attorneys promptly of any change in their lives that might reasonably be expected to affect the handling of their matter.
4. Clients shall pay for the legal services rendered on their behalf within the time period set forth in the retainer agreement.
5. Clients shall be required to review diligently all bills submitted by their attorneys and within a reasonable time to raise any objections regarding billing.
6. Clients shall not take any position in their matter for any improper purpose, such as to delay the proceeding or intentionally to increase the cost to other litigants.
7. Clients shall not seek to use their attorneys for any improper means.
8. Clients must recognize and be responsible for the costs associated with nay action initiated or requested by the client.
9. Clients shall provide sufficient time for their attorneys to explain to them the financial costs and other ramifications of a potential action in their matter and reasonably to consider the advice of their attorneys.
You have read, understand and agree to the contents of this Agreement.