Litigation by its very nature is a slow process and the slower it advances to conclusion, the costlier it is for the client. Whether I am prosecuting or defending a dispute, my goal is always to keep my client’s case moving quickly toward resolution. Always looking for ways to end a conflict early, I work to help a client avoid the expense and exposure of a trial by negotiating out-of-court settlements at the earliest stages of a legal battle rather than after months or years of motions, discovery and trial preparation. But, when a favorable outcome for my client is not achievable by negotiation, I am an experienced and successful advocate in the courtroom.
Consulting for Clients
For most of my years of law practice, I was a litigator at large law firms so I understand how they manage cases. But not every dispute requires an army of lawyers. A client often wants a quick and inexpensive answer to such questions as: Do I have a claim? Do I have a defense?
At large law firms, there are several internal procedures that must be followed before a client can even ask these questions. First, the law firm must screen for conflicts, which can require searching a database of thousands of clients and representations. If there is a conflict, waivers must be obtained. If the client and the matter can be undertaken, most large law firms require a signed engagement letter and a substantial retainer. Only after clearing these hurdles can the client ask the question and get an answer. This process takes several days at best, and at worst can end in a client being turned away without an answer and having to search for new counsel. And if the intake process has been successfully completed, and the questions can be asked, the large firm attorneys’ fees begin. A client may spend tens of thousands of dollars only to learn there is no claim or defense.
I offer a better solution. I will apply my decades of litigation experience to provide clients with fast and cost-effective answers and potential resolutions to legal problems at the very earliest stages of a dispute, while delivering the same experience and sophistication as my large law firm peers. Any conflict will be determined in the first phone call. Assuming there is no conflict, the scope of the engagement and the fee arrangement will be confirmed immediately in a short email. My hourly billing rate is approximately half of what it was when I worked at a large law firm, and I have greater flexibility to work with clients on alternative fee arrangements that meet their needs. If the client prefers, a fixed fee can be used, or we can discuss a lower hourly rate coupled with a success fee if a dispute is resolved within specified parameters.
Above all, I understand that clients need their lawyers to understand, appreciate, and account for their specific circumstances. For many clients and cases, litigation that drags on for years, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and ends in a trial or delayed settlement is not a “win,” regardless of the ultimate outcome. Once the initial inquiries have been answered and a strategy established, I will make every effort to find a speedy negotiated resolution in keeping with the client’s desires. If the dispute cannot be resolved, I will assist the client in finding the right law firm to litigate the matter and provide trial counsel with the work done to that point.
Consulting with Other Lawyers
I also provide litigation consulting services to solo practitioners and lawyers at small firms who do not have the opportunity to confer with an experienced colleague. I am available to discuss litigation strategy and procedure, including reviewing and editing pleadings, motions, briefs, and settlement agreements. My hourly rate or fixed fee arrangement will fit within most solo and small firm billing structures and will allow the cost to be passed on to the client.
I will continue to offer my services as a mediator. In 2012, I completed a 40-hour approved mediation course and have been certified as a court-approved mediator in Cook, Lake, and McHenry counties. In 2013, I completed a two-day mortgage foreclosure mediation training program. Over the past 5 years I have served as a mediator in 13 cases, settling 11. Unlike most full-time mediators, I am available on short notice, I can devote significant time in any one day or over several days to reaching resolution, my hourly rate is approximately one-half of the fees charged by most mediators, and there are no additional administrative fees to pay. As a lawyer who has handled hundreds of lawsuits of every size and type, at trial, arbitration and mediation, I also understand the business considerations that go into a client’s decision to litigate or settle.