New Client Welcome
How To Prepare for Initial Consultation
When should I make an appointment?
We recommend that you plan to make an appointment 2 days in advance. This will give us greater flexibility in creating our schedule and allows us to prepare for our meeting.
If you have a pressing matter and need to meet sooner, we will do our absolute best to accommodate your schedule.
How should I dress for our meeting?
If you need to make an appearance in court, we’ll discuss your wardrobe; but until then just dress comfortably and focus on gathering evidence for your case.
What should I bring with me?
Make sure that you bring all of the relevant documents that might help us to evaluate your case. This includes any text messages, court documents, letters, pictures, reports, and medical records.
Typically, we will send you a New Client Intake Form when we schedule your appointment. Completing this Form prior to your meeting will shorten your wait time. Also, please bring any contact information you have for people that are associated with your case (both for and against).
Who else should come with me?
The Attorney-Client Privilege allows you and your attorney to discuss the gritty details of your case without fear of someone forcing your attorney to disclose anything you have revealed.
At Matthew Harris Law, we take the Attorney-Client Privilege very seriously and hold your information in the strictest of confidences. If we allow people that aren’t directly related to your case, such as family members and friends, then you may inadvertently waive that privilege and your friend could be forced to disclose what you have revealed to your attorney.
So in an effort to preserve your rights, we ask that you not bring family members or friends to your meetings with us. If you must bring someone else with you, then explain to them why they must sit in the waiting room instead of sitting in the meeting.
Are my children allowed to come to my meeting?
Because much of our practice is devoted to Family Law, we love spending time with kids and truly look forward to helping their legal situations.
We aren’t like other law firms that prohibit children from the office, but we do encourage you to leave children with a caregiver during your meeting if at all possible so we can focus on your legal issues. Also, and it likely goes without saying, but children probably don’t need to hear the details that you’ll need to share with us.
How to Become a Better Client
Phone Calls & Emails
At Matthew Harris Law, we ask clients to send simple questions by email if they aren’t time-sensitive (i.e., need an answer today and not right this second), and reserve phone calls for pressing matters and complex questions.
The greatest pet peeve of any client is also the fastest way for an attorney to get into trouble with the State Bar; not returning a client’s phone calls or emails. Therefore, we attempt to return email questions by the end of the day, or the following day.
One of the best recommendations that we can give to clients, which makes our job easier, is to respond to the emails that our staff send out. Sometimes we have limited-time offers on the table that go sour if our clients do not call us back.
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, & Instagram
If you are anticipating, or in the middle of, any sort of legal case, and you use any sort of social media, you need to immediately lock down your privacy settings so the whole world doesn’t see your status updates and pictures. I promise that the DA, CPS, and opposing counsel are searching for your party pictures. You can help prevent harmful surprises in the future with a few simple mouse-clicks.
At the same time, our Firm is active on each of these social media services and we often post pictures or articles of interest. To encourage our message getting out to more people, we invite our clients to Share/Retweet our social media posts, and provide a $25/month discount on bills if a client shares just two posts.
Referring Potential Clients
I read a story about a client that somehow fell under the belief that it was improper for her to refer potential clients to her attorney. Like his services were a secret treasure that must be kept hidden.
Attorneys have only been advertising since 1977, before that it wasn’t allowed; so how do you think the profession generated business? That’s right, Word of Mouth. Word of Mouth is the lifeblood of any attorney, not some silly animated commercial or ridiculous slogan.
At Matthew Harris Law, we work hard to maintain a positive reputation in the community and we sincerely appreciate your referrals because they are a direct reflection on our quality of work
Deposits & Payment Plans
For most cases, we ask for an initial deposit up front that we place in a Client Trust Account and then work on an hourly basis. We send out itemized bills on the first business day of the month showing all the work performed down to the 1/10 th of an hour. We then withdraw from your Client Trust Account for work actually performed and all money in the Client Trust Account at the end of the case that is not earned will be returned to you. This saves you money because it allows you to make several smaller deposits over time instead of having to quickly gather a large sum on Day One to cover the cost of the entire case.
However, sometimes situations arise, outside of our control, and cause your bill to rise drastically; often because a vindictive Ex on the other side begins filing extraneous motions that we must reply to.
Unfortunately, when there is an outstanding balance, some clients become shy and dodgy because they fear being asked about paying the bill. To avoid that and enhance our communication, we will help you to set up a payment plan that you can afford so you don’t have to fear any uncomfortable questions and we can work together on your case.
Conversations Outside of Our Office
The Attorney-Client Privilege is a powerful tool that allows you to discuss your case with your attorney without the fear of the attorney being called to testify against you. However, that privilege is yours to waive.
Just because you told your attorney something private does not mean that it is forever protected. If you decide to go to a crowded mall and tell your friends everything you and your attorney talked about, it makes it exceedingly difficult for your attorney to convince the Judge that your conversation was confidential.
Your best bet is to wait until your case is complete. Then you can feel free to sell your story for a lucrative book deal and Made-For-TV Movie.
Are Alternative Billing Options Available?
Unfortunately, one of the greatest barriers to justice is money. Many of the citizens in greatest need of legal assistance are very often those that can’t afford it, and that itself is an injustice.
At Matthew Harris Law, we understand that finances are difficult in this economic climate, which is why we sometimes allow alternative billing methods.
We can’t guarantee that all methods are always available, but we make allowances when possible for payment plans, short-term holding of collateral, or trades of goods/services. The most common alternative method is to allow clients to make regular deposits into their Client Trust Account, but understanding that we won’t begin work on the case until the complete deposit is paid.
How Often Should I Call My Attorney?
There is no set time-period in which you should call your attorney as every case is different. If you think there is a pending deadline, or if you have a time-sensitive question (i.e., can’t wait a couple of hours) then don’t hesitate to make the call.
However, if you’re just curious about the status of your case, or if you have a general question, it sure does help your attorney’s time-management if you send him/her an email and you should get a reply by the end of the day.
Remember, sometimes no news is good news and not hearing from your Attorney is a good thing.
How Can I Make a Payment?
You can come to our office and make a payment by check, cash, or money-order anytime. We will provide you with a receipt and deposit it in your Trust Fund or apply it to your outstanding balance as applicable.
We have a credit/debit card payment site (MAKE A PAYMENT) which allows you to make payments directly from the comfort of your own home any hour of the day. You can make payments by credit/debit card, and receive a receipt by email. You can even ask us to process payments on your card automatically after each billing cycle to save you the hassle and burden.
How Long Will My Case Take To Complete?
Unfortunately, this is a very difficult topic that can’t be precisely calculated.
An uncontested case can usually be resolved 4x faster than a contested case, and sometimes cases are delayed due to third-party agencies that we have to wait on to submit a report.
We do our best to give you an estimated time-frame, but we can’t make any guarantees.
Downtown Parking Options
Do I have to pay for downtown parking?
There are some pay-to-park lots downtown, but you mostly likely won’t have to utilize them. There are several convenient parking options within walking distance to our Firm.
Where is the most convenient parking?
The most convenient parking is along Avenue J near the intersection of Broadway (in front of our building). Most of these spots do not have time limitations.
If there is no parking there, then you can look along Avenue J to the north and south as there are several rows of street parking there that also do not have time limitations.
Where will my car be safest?
Though we cannot guarantee the safety of any parking lot, the safest parking lot would be the ones nearest to our office.
The parking spots near our office have terrific lighting at night, just in case your hearing runs a little late in the winter months.
How long should I plan to park for?
This usually depends on the type of meeting. For initial meetings, you should plan to be parked for an hour and a half, though your meeting will likely not last more than an hour.
Otherwise, we’ll advise you prior to any future meetings how long you should expect the meeting to last so you can plan accordingly.