My hourly rate is the same whether I am handling a divorce or mediation matter. However, in a mediation case, the retainer is usually much less and the overall cost to the clients is substantially less.
Michelle Smithers and Herbert Smithers
100 Holland Drive
New York, New York 10022
Dear Michelle Smithers and Herbert Smithers :
We met for an initial mediation conference and we agreed that I will proceed to mediate your matrimonial problems with a view toward reaching an agreement settling your respective property, support, custodial and other marital rights. I would draft an agreement consistent with the understanding we hope to reach and will recommend that each of you review the agreement with separate counsel before signing. I shall be pleased to mediate in accordance with the terms and conditions contained in this retainer agreement. Each of 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, and while I am not at all certain that Statement applies to a mediation situation, I will comply with it to the extent it can be reasonably applied.
NATURE OF SERVICES to be rendered. You are retaining me in connection with mediation. I, as an attorney, do not represent either of you and that is why I want the draft agreement to be seen by your separate attorneys. We agree that neither of you will communicate with me without the other's presence or hearing except to convey information to me or set up meetings.
ADVANCE RETAINER. You have agreed to pay me $2,500 as an advance retainer, 2/3 of which to be paid by Michelle and 1/3 by Herbert. The advance retainer is a partial payment of my fees and you will not be required to pay any additional payments until such time as the advance retainer is expended based on $400 per hour time charges. Additional charges shall be allocated between you in the same 2/3 to 1/3 proportion until further agreement. Should my services terminate either by my withdrawal 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.
YOUR RIGHT TO CANCEL. Either of you has 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. The advance retainer payment is not likely to cover payment for all services throughout this matter, 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.
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 ther is one, or to discontinue our relationship.
MINIMUM FEE. There is [no} mimimum fee.
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.
RIGHT TO COPIES OF PAPERS. You have a right to be provided with copies of correspondence and documents related to this matter and to be kept apprised of its status.
SECURITY INTEREST. An attorney has a right to obtain a security interest from the client provided that the attorney first obtains court approval and notices is given to the adversary. In this case, no security interest is requested.
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.
FEE ARBITRATION. Should a dispute arise concerning mediation fees, you may seek arbitration which is binding on both of you and me. In the event either of you should ever seek arbitration, I shall provide you with the necessary information to enable you to commence that proceeding.
I ask that each of you complete the enclosed financial forms and communicate with one another in order to present to me at our next meeting, the most complete financial picture you can.
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 make a copy of this retainer letter, sign it and return it to me in the enclosed envelope and it will constitute our agreement. You may be assured that I will do my utmost to bring both of you to a fair and reasonable agreement and to minimize the risk of litigation that would be destructive not only to your relationship with one another, but, most importantly, to your children.
Very truly yours,