Provided by the Law Firm of Joseph
& Smargiassi, LLC
If you ever have any questions about these
rights, or about the way your case is being handled, do not hesitate to ask
your attorney. He or she should be readily available to represent your best
interests and keep you informed about your case.
An attorney may not refuse to represent you
on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, national
origin or disability.
You are entitled to an attorney who will be
capable of handling your case; show you courtesy and consideration at all
times; represent you zealously; and preserve your confidences and secrets
that are revealed in the course of the relationship.
You are entitled to a written retainer
agreement which must set forth, in plain language, the nature of the
relationship and the details of the fee arrangement. At your request, and
before you sign the agreement, you are entitled to have your attorney
clarify in writing any of its terms, or include additional provisions.
You are entitled to fully understand the
proposed rates and retainer fee before you sign a retainer agreement, as in
any other contract.
You may refuse to enter into any fee
arrangement that you find unsatisfactory.
Your attorney may not request a fee that is
contingent on the securing of a divorce or on the amount of money or
property that may be obtained.
Your attorney may not request a retainer
fee that is nonrefundable. That is, should you discharge your attorney, or
should your attorney withdraw from the case, before the retainer is used up,
he or she is entitled to be paid commensurate with the work performed on
your case and any expenses, but must return the balance of the retainer to
you. However, your attorney may enter into a minimum fee arrangement with
you that provides for the payment of a specific amount below which the fee
will not fall based upon the handling of the case to its conclusion.
You are entitled to know the approximate
number of attorneys and other legal staff members who will be working on
your case at any given time and what you will be charged for the services of
You are entitled to know in advance how you
will be asked to pay legal fees and expenses, and how the retainer, if any,
will be spent.
At your request, and after your attorney
has had a reasonable opportunity to investigate your case, you are entitled
to be given an estimate of approximate future costs of your case, which
estimate shall be made in good faith but may be subject to change due to
facts and circumstances affecting the case.
You are entitled to receive a written,
itemized bill on a regular basis, at least every 60 days.
You are expected to review the itemized
bills sent by counsel, and to raise any objections or errors in a timely
manner. Time spent in discussion or explanation of bills will not be charged
You are expected to be truthful in all
discussions with your attorney, and to provide all relevant information and
documentation to enable him or her to competently prepare your case.
You are entitled to be kept informed of the
status of your case, and to be provided with copies of correspondence and
documents prepared on your behalf or received from the court or your
You have the right to be present in court
at the time that conferences are held.
You are entitled to make the ultimate
decision on the objectives to be pursued in your case, and to make the final
decision regarding the settlement of your case.
Your attorney's written retainer agreement
must specify under what circumstances he or she might seek to withdraw as
your attorney for nonpayment of legal fees. If an action or proceeding is
pending, the court may give your attorney a "charging lien," which
entitles your attorney to payment for the services already rendered at the
end of the case out of the proceeds of the final order or judgment.
You are under no legal obligation to sign a
confession of judgment or promissory note, or to agree to a lien or mortgage
on your home to cover legal fees. Your attorney's written retainer agreement
must specify whether, and under what circumstances, such security may be
requested. In no event may such security interest be obtained by your
attorney without prior court approval and notice to your adversary. An
attorney's security interest in the marital residence cannot be foreclosed
You are entitled to have your attorney's
best efforts exerted on your behalf, but no particular results can be
If you entrust money with an attorney for
an escrow deposit in your case, the attorney must safe-guard the escrow in a
special bank account. You are entitled to a written escrow agreement, and
may request that one or more interest-bearing bank accounts be used. You
also are entitled to a written receipt, and a complete record concerning the
escrow. When the terms of the escrow agreement have been performed, the
attorney must promptly make payment of the escrow to all persons who are
entitled to it.
In the event of a fee dispute, you have the
right to seek arbitration. Your attorney will provide you with the necessary
information regarding arbitration in the event of a fee dispute, or upon