“Flat fee pricing” – I use it whenever possible. Nearly all estate planning work is done on a flat fee basis. Clients love flat fees. They want to budget for a legal expense in advance, knowing the total cost at the start. I try to accommodate that desire, whenever possible - and not just in estate planning. Many real estate and small business matters can often be done on a flat fee basis. (Unfortunately, not all can. Negotiating, mediating, or litigation of disputes - it’s impossible to estimate in advance how much legal time might ultimately be required, so I must bill-by-the-hour. Even then, I charge very reasonable rates, given my level of experience and expertise.)
I’m a “frugalist” and I like low overhead. I’ll spend on overhead and staff where it makes sense – where it adds value to clients -- but I don’t spend frivolously to impress people. I try to pass that lower overhead on to clients, in the form of reasonable prices and excellent value for high quality legal advice, advocacy, representation, results, and solutions. This strategy allows my firm to grow organically, with lots of referrals from happy clients, saving me a ton on advertising, which completes the virtuous cycle.
I’m not the lowest priced attorney you could hire. (After 20+ years of developing expertise and clientele, I can stay busy without underpricing.) Whether or not you know it, you cannot afford to hire a “cheap” lawyer. The true cost of errors, mistakes, wasted billable time, missed opportunities due to not knowing about the most effective strategies – that type of cost is vastly bigger than any small amount you could save by hiring a “cheap” lawyer.
I understand that clients don’t have (or want) a personal network of specialist lawyers, in every type of law practice. If a client trusts one attorney, they want to rely on him to refer them to specialists in the various types of law that they need, from time to time. For current clients and referrals from friends, etc., I maintain a network of specialists in other legal practice areas.
magnifying your positive impact on their lives, versus catastrophic waste after you are no longer in control. Moreover, the right guidance can prevent fights later between your heirs, which are disastrous financially and emotionally. (Trust me: they occur more frequently than you’d imagine, usually in families who don't do good planning.) And here's another form of leverage - the huge cost savings of planning well while you still can. The difference between doing it right, while you're alive and healthy, for a modest price, versus leaving your family with a vastly more expensive mess that takes years to fix - it is a huge difference. In addition, many powerful strategies are literally lost – no longer possible – if not put in place early enough.
This is what I like most about “Family Wealth Law.” The degree of leverage is often amazing. Expert legal advice is invaluable when dealing with your life savings or an inheritance (or perhaps helping manage your parents’ assets). You want the optimal strategy for leaving your assets, to create the biggest, longest-lasting positive impact on your loved ones. Expert guidance is just as critical when titling real estate, negotiating a real estate transaction, or planning for a “small business succession” to your family. In all these areas, expert legal advice can mean the difference between