Frequently Asked Questions About Payment

McGohey Law Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) About Payment

McGohey Law PLLC can provide you with strong legal representation. We are a New Hampshire litigation firm that helps clients with personal injury lawsuits, bankruptcy filings, family law and more. If you are interested in hiring our Manchester firm, there are several things you should know regarding how we bill clients and how you can pay your invoice. Here are a few of the frequently asked questions we hear, along with our answers. If you do not see the answer to a question you have, contact us at 603-657-7157.

Do you Accept Credit Cards?

Hands entering credit card information into a laptop

We make it easy for you to make your payments. You can pay your bill in person, by mail, or online. Our online payment processing system accepts both electronic checks and credit or debit card payments. This allows you to retain us even if you do not have the immediate cash on hand.  Before you pay with a credit card, make sure you read the below:

Credit Card statements are not privileged.  If you use a credit card to pay your bill be aware that your credit card will reflect a charge from McGohey Law, PLLC.  If you are seeking consultation about a divorce and your ex-spouse to be reads the statements, you may wish to write a check instead.

There is a 3% fee charged for all credit card transactions.  We do not charge this against your retainer until you actually use our services, but we pass our actual cost, a 3% credit card transaction fee, to you on your first bill.

BANKRUPTCY CLIENTS:  If you are a bankruptcy client DO NOT use a credit card to pay a bankruptcy retainer fee!  You cannot use a credit card to pay a bankruptcy retainer.  Debit cards are okay to pay for bankruptcy provided that they take money directly from your checking account (and not from overdraft protection).

How do you charge to represent me during a bankruptcy?

You will be billed a flat fee for a bankruptcy proceeding.  Since every case is unique we determine the amount of the flat fee after getting to know your situation in an initial consultation.  You must pay the flat fee before we begin work on the petition and will be treated as earned once the bankruptcy is filed.  On the day of filing we will require you to pay the filing fee, currently $310 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and $335 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  We will also require you to reimburse any expenses that we incur.

I heard that legal fees can be rolled into a bankruptcy.  Is that true?

Yes, in a Chapter 13, we can request that your legal fees be paid through your monthly payment plan.  There will, however, still be a requirement that you pay some fees up front as a retainer.

What is a retainer agreement?

A retainer agreement is where we estimate how much it might cost to provide you with legal representation and ask for you to pay a portion of those fees up front. Essentially, a retainer is a deposit for our services just like you might pay a deposit to a contractor for remodeling your home. The difference is that any legal fees you pay via a retainer are deposited into a trust account instead of our general operating account.

As we work on your case, we will bill against the amount in the trust account based on our hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours we have worked on your case. Over time, your trust balance will go down, and each month, we will send you a statement of the activity. Once your trust account funds are depleted, we will ask you to replenish your trust account or send you a bill based upon the nature of the case. This is typically done on a monthly basis, usually on the 1st of the month following the work, and will show our hourly rate and how many hours we have worked on your case, along with when your payment will be due.

What is your hourly rate?

The hourly rate we charge depends on the type and complexity of your case — for example, whether we will be representing you in court or just writing a letter or analyzing your situation.  It also depends upon how much you can pay.  In some cases we accept reduced-fee referrals from low-income clients to allow people who otherwise could not afford our services to have access to an attorney.  Our hourly rate will be set at your initial consultation after reviewing the nature of your case and your ability to pay.  To set up an initial consultation call us at (603) 657-7157.

What is the difference between an hourly fee and a flat fee?

With an hourly fee, we will charge you a set rate per hour, but we do not know how many hours it will take for us to represent you in a particular matter. We can estimate, but we do not know for sure. With a flat fee, we will let you know what it will cost for our services over the course of the issue at hand, like filing and processing your bankruptcy, for example. Many people prefer a flat fee arrangement because it helps them to budget better, while others appreciate receiving regular and detailed billing statements.

What is the difference between a fee and a cost?

A fee is the amount we charge for the time an attorney or paralegal spends working on your case.  Typical time charges include

  • court appearances, including waiting time, travel to and from court,
  • telephone conferences,
  • telephone calls to and from the Client (all telephone calls are billed at a minimum of 1/10th(s) of an hour),
  • office conferences,
  • legal research,
  • depositions,
  • review of file materials and documents sent or received,
  • drafting of pleadings,
  • correspondence and memoranda, and
  • preparation for trials, hearings, and conferences.

A cost, or expense, is an out-of-pocket disbursement that we incur on your behalf that you must pay.  Typical litigation expenses include

  • filing fees,
  • witness fees,
  • travel expenses,
  • sheriff’s fees,
  • expenses of depositions,
  • investigative expenses,
  • expert witness fees,
  • charges for photocopies at the rate of outside vendors,
  • mileage at the rate of the prevailing IRS reimbursement rate, and
  • telephone expenses.

Do you offer payment plans?

Our online payment option can be set up to remind you when it is time to make a payment.  If you want to pay your retainer or other fees over time, simply let us know how much you can pay and how often and we can set up a plan for you with automated reminders.

Do you handle any cases on a contingency fee?

Yes.  If the case is appropriate for a contingency fee we will handle it on that basis.  You will still be responsible to pay any costs.

How do you determine if the case is eligible for a contingency fee?

We take a look at all of the factors involved in your case.  These factors include how likely it is that you will recover a money judgment, how much that money judgment could be and the risk that you could recover no money at all.  In order to make a decision we will want to meet with you at least once prior to agreeing to accept your case.  Remember that a lawyer’s time is her stock in trade and that acceptance of your case means that we are giving you our time in exchange for an expected fee down the road.

What does it mean for a retainer to be held in trust?

A retainer, whether it is for attorney’s fees and costs, just fees or just costs, is held in the lawyer’s trust account and not in a regular checking account.  The money you pay into a retainer is still yours, subject to the agreement that you signed with the lawyer.  Any interest that accrues on money held in trust, however, does not go to you or to the lawyer.  Pursuant to New Hampshire Supreme Court Rule 50 the interest automatically goes to the Bar Foundation through the Interest On Lawyer’s Trust Accounts program.  The interest goes to pay for indigent legal services and to fund other programs.

Why didn’t I receive a monthly statement?

If you are being represented on a flat fee there will be no regular accounting of how much is still in your trust account.  Money is transferred from the IOLTA account as it is earned.  You can ask for an accounting at any time.

Do you offer unbundled services?

Yes.  If you want to hire our law firm to handle just a part of your case, for example to appear at a hearing or to write an appellate brief, ask for unbundled services.  You will have to sign a limited representation agreement, which may or may not need to be disclosed to the Court.  The fee for the service you request will be determined at an initial consultation.

Did this Frequently Asked Questions page answer your question? 

If not, please call us at (603) 657-7157 so we can give you an answer.

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