Litigated divorces are terribly expensive. If the litigation involves a legitimate dispute which the parties wish to resolve in court, then there is no reason for there to be substantial costs. However, other factors may interfere with a speedy and relatively inexpensive determination of a dispute. One such factor is anger and if either or both parties have anger, then litigation is likely to be extended. Another factor that may exacerbate litigation is the presence of a unscrupulous or destructive attorney. It is always in my clients' interests to resolve a matrimonial dispute quickly and without great expense so that the client can go on with her or his life and there is minimal damage to the family unit or what is left of the family unit.
Dear Sandy Smithers:
100 Holland Drive
New York, New York 10022
You have requested me to perform legal services on your behalf and I shall be pleased to represent you in accordance with the terms and conditions contained in this retainer agreement. You are also being supplied with a Statement of Client's Rights and Responsibilities, in accordance with the rules of the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court.
NATURE OF SERVICES TO BE RENDERED. You are retaining me in connection with the negotiation of a divorce settlement.
ADVANCE RETAINER. You have agreed to pay me $5,000 as an advance retainer, which is a partial payment of my fees and you will not be required to pay any additional fees until such time as the advance retainer is expended based on time charges as indicated in this letter. Should my services terminate either by my with drawal from the case or my discharge prior to the depletion of the advanced retainer, you will be responsible only for my time charges actually incurred in closing the case, and disbursements, and the remainder of the advanced retainer shall be refunded to you.
CLIENT’S RIGHT TO CANCEL. You have a right to cancel our agreement at any time provided that you will have to pay for any time charges and disbursements incurred at the time of discharge.
PAYMENT AFTER RETAINER IS DEPLETED. Advance retainer payments rarely cover payment for services throughout a case, and at such time as the retainer is depleted, you will be required to pay for additional charges promptly upon your receiving a statement from me. If this matter should go to trial, and it appears that I will have to devote intense time in preparation for trial and during the trial, then you may be required to pay an additional lump sum, prior to my preparation for trial.
CHARGES OF ATTORNEYS. You agree to pay for my time at the rate of $400 per hour. You will also pay for paralegals, if any are used, at the rate of $75 per hour. You also will be required to reimburse me promptly for any out-of-pocket disbursements which I will incur on your behalf or I may ask you to pay those costs directly. In the event there is a change in my billing rate to all clients, it will not affect this agreement unless I have been representing you for at least one year, after which you will have a choice whether to pay any increased rate, if there is one, or to discontinue our relationship.
MINIMUM FEE. There is [no] minimum fee. The minimum fee, $2000, will be charged provided that this matter is brought to a completion, that is an agreement is signed.
ITEMIZED BILLING. You shall receive an itemized bill at least every 60 days and you will not be charged for the reasonable time spent in discussing your bills.
RIGHTS TO COPIES OF PAPERS. You have a right to be provided with copies of correspondence and documents related to your case and to be kept apprised of the status of the case.
COURT AWARD OF FEES. Under appropriate circumstances, one spouse may be required to pay all or a portion of the other spouse's fees and expenses. In the event that any such award is made in your favor or mine, then any money I receive pursuant to that award will be credited towards your obligation to me.
SECURITY INTEREST. An attorney has a right to obtain a security interest from the client provided that the attorney first obtains court approval and notice is given to the adversary. In this case, no security interest is requested.
ATTORNEY’S RIGHT TO WITHDRAW. If my charges are unpaid for a period of 60 days after billing, I have a right to withdraw from the case for non-payment of fees. In such an event, I have a right to seek a charging lien from the court.
ARBITRATION. Should a dispute arise concerning attorneys fees, you may seek arbitration which is binding on both you and me. In the event you should ever seek arbitration, I shall provide you with the necessary information to enable you to commence that proceeding.
If the foregoing represents your understanding of our agreement and its limitations, and you have also received the annexed Statement of Client's Rights and Responsibilities, then kindly sign your name on a copy of the Client's Rights and Responsibilities and this retainer letter where indicated at the end and return it to me in the enclosed envelope, along with the retainer fee if not already paid and it will constitute not only our agreement, but an authorization for me to act on your behalf.
You may be assured that I will do my utmost to protect your interests.
Very truly yours,