HK’s pricing and billing philosophy focuses on value, meaning that the quality of the work and convenience to the client should meet or exceed the amount paid for the service. Clients can expect a fair and reasonable rate, communication directly with their attorney rather than an assistant or paralegal, and detailed, transparent billing statements allowing you to understand exactly what you’re paying for.
- How much do you cost?
This is probably the most common question, and rightfully so. HK’s billing rates are designed for the cost-conscious, but not cost-controlled, client. That means HK is not the “cheapest,” and certainly not the most expensive, law firm in the area. In the interest of transparency, our rates are published onto “Fee Schedule” sheets that are specific to the type of practice area needed (corporate, estate planning, hourly). Your fee arrangement will be discussed in advance before you sign any agreement.
- Where can I get your Fee Schedule?
Send an email by using our contact form (please click here) and put in the message “Fee Schedule – [and type of case]. A pdf of your requested fee schedule will be emailed to you within 24 hours. The types of fee schedules are:
- Corporate – Single Member Businesses
- Corporate – Multi-Member Businesses
- Estate Planning
- Do you offer free consultations?
No – but I do offer a consultation credit. The reason for the consultation fee is that consultations involve work – I prepare for my consultations, I schedule an hour of time for my consultations, and I attend them personally, offering analysis and options to the potential client. “Free” consultations offered by other firms can end up feeling like a sales trap, and I will not waste your time or my own by giving you a 30-minute elevator pitch. I intend for our consultation to be thoughtful and informative, and well worth the hourly rate charged. Some clients actually end up not hiring me after our consultation because they learn that attorney services really aren’t necessary for their issue.
All consultations are billed the hourly rate for the type of case you have. Let’s say your case type is billed at $150.00 per hour and your initial consultation lasts for 30 minutes.
Your consult will cost $75 before we begin our discussion ($150 x 0.5 hours). If you ultimately decide not to retain the Firm, this fee will be retained as compensation for the work and time involved in preparing for and attending the consultation.
If you retain the Firm, a credit of $75 will be applied to your first invoice, or $75.00 will be deducted from any Flat-Fee services.
- Do you offer Alternative Fee structures?
Yes - HK is not a traditional law firm, and does not bill in a strict “hourly” manner. Many services can be structured on a flat-fee basis (so you know exactly what your total will be upfront), hourly with a cap (so even though you won’t know an exact total upfront, you know the work won’t exceed a set amount without your approval), and subscription (fixed monthly payment for guaranteed availability and pre-set services).
- How do I pay?
HK accepts cash, check, and credit cards at the office. You can also pay by credit card online.
- Do you charge a retainer?
HK charges an upfront deposit on hourly cases, which is deposited into a client trust account. A deposit is not a flat fee, and the deposit will probably need replenished from time to time. On many occasions, HK can complete a project for less than the deposit the client has already paid. In that case, refunds are issued within 15 days of file closing. Before signing an engagement agreement, we will discuss the amount of the deposit and how the deposit and billing process works. Deposits help HK keep fees low for clients because less administrative time is wasted trying to collect earned fees for completed work. Law firms often end up raising fees when old client invoices aren’t paid, and the deposit system helps avoid higher fees for everyone.
- Other attorneys say I don’t pay unless I win. Why do I have to pay you?
“Pay if you win” cases are known as contingency fee cases. This means that the law firm accepts of the risk of you losing your case. In exchange, if you “win” any money from the other side, the law firm gets a much larger cut of the money because the firm is the one taking the risk and doing the work upfront. This is not typical for transactions, because the law firm is not really hired to “win” anything, but to get something done. When HK accepts disputed cases (business disputes, real estate disputes, etc.), there may be an opportunity for a contingent fee arrangement. Most of the time, this comes in the form of a hybrid hourly-contingent arrangement. Please ask if you are interested in discussing a contingent or hybrid fee structure.
- How do I find your office?
HK is located in the Paramount building on the South end of Merchant Street in Ambridge. The street number is 233. The building is a renovated school building attached to a small brick church. You will notice the church from Merchant Street, next to a large gravel parking lot. You can park in the lot and enter through the side door of the school (located between the gravel lot and the church building). Please click here for map and directions.
- What are your office hours?
I’m frequently out of the office, so making an appointment is your best bet. Appointments are available from 9:00 am – 4:00 PM Monday through Friday. I can also accommodate some evening appointments.
- Do I really need to hire an attorney?
Like every answer to a pretty broad question, it depends. It depends on the type of legal question you have. It depends on each fact and circumstance you’re dealing with. It depends on how comfortable you are in handling legal issues, and what the consequences may be down the road for improper handling.
As discussed below in FAQ #2, some legal work can be done yourself, and you absolutely have the right to do so -- the same way you can perform your own surgery, fix your own car, or re-plumb your own home. The choice to perform one of these activities yourself depends upon how knowledgeable you are about the work to be performed, and whether you’re willing to accept the risk of doing it wrong and potentially paying much more to have the work fixed later.
If your goal is low-expense-low-value (minimal results for minimal pricing), then maybe you can do it yourself. However, if you want an informed, valuable solution, then a DIY legal solution may end up costing you more in the long run.
- I found a form online for $19.95. Won’t it be cheaper to do it myself?
That depends on what you mean by “cheap.” “Cheap” generally means low quality. For example, you might buy “cheap” socks. If they rip or wear out quickly, you haven’t really lost much. When performing legal work, “cheap” should not be your goal, because the risk of getting it wrong is way too high.
Keep in mind that the $19.95 online form gives you no assurances of reliability and little or no recourse if it’s not proper (or properly used) in your situation. You really need knowledge of the law in your state to know if the form will even work in your situation.
For example, I’ve seen clients “buy” a Nevada LLC for $199 (because we all have heard that Nevada is a great place to do business), and then the company needs totally restructured once the client realizes it’s not appropriate for their particular situation. It’s pretty easy to sell you a Nevada company – but it’s quite expensive to FIX your Nevada entity you never needed in the first place. This $199 LLC usually ends up costing over $1000 once all is said and done.
I’ve also seen companies buy a $199 Pennsylvania LLC online – with an operating agreement that isn’t accepted by their bank when they try to open a business checking account. That $199 LLC will cost perhaps $300 more to fix than it would have cost to appropriately structure the company with an attorney in the first place – and the client never got the benefit of learning how to properly use their LLC after the banking issue (likely the first issue faced by the company) is resolved.
- It’s just a sales pitch when you say I shouldn’t DIY, right?
Your decision whether to hire a professional or DIY (“Do-It-Yourself”) is ultimately based on lots of things, including:
- How much time and money will you spend learning how to do it yourself, versus how much money you’ll spend having a professional handle it?
- How much risk are you willing to take if you ultimately not do the work properly?
- How much money will it cost to fix an even bigger problem that was not done properly the first time?
For example, you can certainly draft your own deed. You have a computer and you can find a form online from one of those “fill-in-the-blank” form
companies for $19.95. You’ll probably “save” $200 or so doing it this way.
But is the form you’ve clicked on the right one? Does it have the proper conveyance language? Have you provided the appropriate warranty(ies) to the grantee? Have you conveyed an interest that doesn’t actually exist, or failed to fully convey an interest? Did you draft the proper legal description? Include or exclude the appropriate appurtenance and easement language? Is your execution block going to be accepted? Did you record it in a timely fashion? How will you know it has been recorded properly? Have you accounted for paying the appropriate transfer taxes?
You might not find out about any of these problems until you go to sell your property years down the road and find out that you’ve now caused your deal to fail because you “saved” $200 a few years ago. Or maybe you didn’t effectively transfer the title at all and a creditor has now placed a lien on your property? Fixing the problem at this point could cost thousands.
When you hire an attorney, the attorney will collect from you all of the relevant information about your own situation, and will ask a bunch of questions about your particular goals, concerns, etc. You won’t be getting a one-size-fits-all solution, because one solution definitely does NOT fit all scenarios, and this can be a very risky way of approaching a legal issue.
So to sum up a long answer to a short question, honestly ask yourself whether you’re really comfortable accepting the risk should the DIY or “$19.95” solution ultimately not work out in your favor (and whether you know what the risks are in the first place). If the end result doesn’t really matter to you, then DIY may be your answer, and yes, it will probably be less expensive.
You will very rarely receive value or reliability when a complex answer comes free or “cheap.” That answer actually may not have anything to do with your actual question, and may end up causing you more problems than you had before. For this reason, I suggest that if you’re seeking reliable legal advice, you do so through a professional who will listen to your situation and work with you to craft an informed, well-reasoned, and reasonably-priced solution tailored to meet your own needs.
- Do you handle other types of cases?
Yes – but not all types. For example, HK has a fairly substantial estate planning and estate administration practice, even though it’s not the focus of this website. That is because we are confident and experienced in providing those services, and have found that many corporate clients, contractors, and real estate investors need estate-related services to effectively manage their business plans. We also enjoy working with clients on a repeat basis, and find that this is an added “value” for clients to be able to work with the same attorney who already understands their business and background.
HK cannot and will not accept all types of cases. One of our core values is transparency, and if we do not feel like your case is something that we can competently handle, we have no problem telling you so and refunding your consultation fee. For example, we will probably not take your custody or criminal case – but know other great attorneys that do, and are happy to provide you with options for a more appropriate lawyer in those cases. It doesn’t hurt to ask.