Frequently Asked Questions

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When should I hire a lawyer?

If you are served with a summons or otherwise become involved in a lawsuit or legal proceeding, contact a lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and help prevent costly mistakes that arise from not understanding the statutes, rules and regulations that govern legal proceedings.

A lawyer's advice and counsel can be invaluable if you need to enter into a contract or other binding arrangement. Legally binding documents are frequently drafted with a great deal of jargon you may not understand. Having a lawyer help you understand the meaning and implications of binding documents can save you money and help prevent future problems.

Hiring a lawyer is a sound investment if you are starting a business or if your business runs into legal complications. Having a lawyer for your business will save you and your business time and hardship over time. A lawyer's advice and counsel could be an invaluable business asset.

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Do I need an appointment?

The best way to ensure that a lawyer can give your matter full attention is to schedule an appointment. Making an appointment at Dole Coalwell is easy: simply call and tell our receptionist you wish to make an appointment. After an initial conflict check and screening to make sure one of our lawyers can assist you, the receptionist will connect you with the attorney best suited for your matter.

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What is a "conflict check?"

Under the Rules of Professional Conduct that govern all lawyers in Oregon, a lawyer may not undertake the representation of a person if that representation will be directly adverse to the interests of an existing client. If a lawyer practicing with other lawyers in a firm is prohibited from representing a person then the other lawyers in the firm are also disqualified from taking up the matter. The conflict of interest rules also apply to former clients of the firm if the new matter is closely related to the former client's matter.

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What should I bring to my appointment?

Come to your appointment ready to give your attorney your full attention. Please eliminate distractions: silence your cell phone and ask if you should arrange childcare for the meeting.

If you have paperwork you want the lawyer to review, please get the documents to the lawyer 24 hours prior to your appointment so the lawyer can review them prior to your meeting. Our staff is available to make copies for you.

Preparing a list of questions you have regarding your matter is always helpful and encouraged.

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Are initial consultations free of charge?

An attorney's "stock in trade" is time and advice. Generally, we charge for all time spent with a client including the first consultation or initial telephone discussion; however, there are situations when a lawyer may believe charge for a consultation is unwarranted and will not bill for the time.

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Will I be billed for telephone calls or emails to my lawyer?

Yes, you will likely be charged for telephone or other communications with your lawyer. A lawyer's “stock in trade” is time and advice. Time spent answering telephone calls or emails is time spent assisting you.

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Do I have to pay a retainer for services rendered on my behalf?

A retainer is an advance to guarantee payment for work to be performed. Whether you will be asked to pay a retainer depends on the type of case you have. We generally ask for retainers in domestic relation cases and other litigation matters. The amount of the retainer will depend on the complexity of the case. In most other cases such as contracts, estate planning, and land use, we bill monthly for our services.

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What can I expect to be charged for services rendered on my behalf?

In most cases, our lawyers bill at an hourly rate. The rates each lawyer charges may differ so you need to ask the lawyer what the hourly rate is he or she will charge you.

There are some matters that our lawyers are willing to handle at a set amount or flat fee. The attorney will discuss this with you after reviewing your matter.

We generally bill monthly. Your bill will consist of the attorney's fee plus out of pocket expenses paid by us on your behalf (for example: filing fees, recording fees, copying charges from government agencies, and overnight mailing fees).

We expect your bill to be promptly paid. Payments made 30 days after the date of the bill are considered late and will be charged interest at 9% per annum.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your bill do not hesitate to contact your attorney or our bookkeeper to discuss it . It is our strong desire to avoid any misunderstandings regarding your bill.

There are times when we may ask you to sign a fee agreement. In other cases, we may simply bill you at the end of the month. If you wish to pay at the conclusion of your appointment, the receptionist is prepared to assist you in this regard.

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What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

Mediation is a non-binding process where a neutral third-party (the mediator) works with the parties to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. If a settlement is not reached, the mediator has no authority to impose one. In arbitration, the arbitrator hears evidence and receives testimony, much like a judge, and makes a decision that is binding on the parties. Mediation and arbitration are usually far less expensive than court litigation where the case is determined by a judge or a jury.

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Should I have a will or a trust?

Anyone with a family or property should have some form of estate plan. Wills and trusts are estate planning devices which allow you to name the person you wish to handle your affairs and to give specific, legally enforceable instructions for the distribution of your property following your death. Deciding whether to use a will or a trust depends on a number of factors ranging from your family situation to the nature of your property holdings. Living trusts are popular alternatives to traditional wills but both have advantages and disadvantages which should be discussed with a lawyer before choosing which form to use. Whether you choose a will or a trust, having an estate plan will give you and your family peace of mind and save your estate money.

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What if I send email to a lawyer listed on this website, or leave a detailed telephone message?

If you are already our client based on previous contact from the lawyer, your email or telephone message is handled with strict confidence.

If you are not currently our client, we appreciate email contact, but an unsolicited email contact (or telephone call, facsimile, letter, etc.) does not establish an attorney-client relationship, and we may not be able to keep information confidential which was provided in that matter. For example, we may already represent an adverse party, and have a duty to share the information with that existing client. When you initially contact us, we will only need the names of the adverse parties and a very general statement of the nature of the matter. Confidential information can be provided after the matter passes our internal conflict check.

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