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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I hire a lawyer?

When in doubt, consult a lawyer! If you are served a summons or otherwise become involved in a lawsuit or legal dispute, contact a lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and prevent costly mistakes made with a lack of experience and understanding for the statutes, rules and regulations that govern legal proceedings.

A lawyer’s advice can be invaluable before you enter into a contract or other binding arrangement. Legally binding documents are frequently drafted with a great deal of jargon that is difficult to understand, they lack important clauses that would protect your interests, or if prepared by the other party, they may contain one-sided, unintentional, or conflicting terms that you don’t catch. Having a lawyer help you understand the meaning and implications of binding documents can save you money and help prevent the stress of 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.

Having a lawyer prepare your estate planning can help ensure that your wishes are followed and that your estate is administered with a minimal risk of disputes. Well prepared estate planning saves money for your heirs, devisees, and beneficiaries. It is never too early to prepare estate planning documents. Documents prepared without an attorney’s knowledge and advice risk the possibility of being unenforceable.

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 initial appointment or even the initial telephone discussion. This is the case even if we don’t end up representing you or doing more work for you after the initial contact. However, there are situations when a lawyer may believe charge for a consultation is unwarranted and will not bill for the time.

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.

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 family law cases and other litigation matters. The amount of the retainer will depend on the complexity of the case.

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.

Will or Trust, which is right for me?

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.

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.

What is a “conflict check”?

The Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct govern when a lawyer may not undertake the representation of a client. There are many factors that lawyers consider when determining if the representation of a potential client would be a conflict, and there are many different types of conflicts. Some conflicts can be waived with clients’ informed written consent. Generally speaking, however, lawyers avoid representing clients whose legal matter interests are directly adverse to the others’ interests. Occasionally, one lawyer’s conflict disqualifies the other lawyers in the firm from taking up the matter. The Rules also apply to former clients of the firm if the new client’s matter is closely related to the former client’s matter.

What should I bring to my appointment?

Complete and bring any forms our firm provided you. Consider providing these forms in advance of your appointment if possible. If you have additional paperwork that you want the lawyer to review, please get the documents to the lawyer’s legal assistant and lawyer as soon as possible prior to your appointment. Our staff can accommodate receipt of your electronic documents or make copies for you if the copy job is not too large.

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. Depending on your matter, anticipate anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes for the appointment. Simpler matters may require less time and more complicated matters, more time.

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

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

Most cases are billed at an hourly rate. The rates each lawyer charges may differ. Our staff can provide your lawyer’s hourly rate. Although a lawyer may be able to give you an idea of how many hours or the expense a case like yours may require, it is impossible to know these values for sure.

Some matters may be billed at a set amount or flat fee. The attorney will discuss this with you after reviewing your matter.

Only a few matters, such as personal injury, are billed on contingency.

Bills are generated monthly. Your bill will consist of the attorney’s fees plus 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 paid promptly in full. Payments made 30 days after the date of the bill are considered late and will be charged interest at 9% per annum. Unpaid bills may cause the firm to withdraw from your case. In some situations, payment arrangements can be made.

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 a friend or family member wishes to pay on your behalf, you must sign an authorization allowing us to accept his/her payment on your behalf before we can apply it to your balance.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your bill do not hesitate to contact your attorney and his/her legal assistant. It is our strong desire to avoid any misunderstandings regarding your bill.

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.