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What am I paying for when I hire a lawyer?
What is a client looking for when the client hires a lawyer? Loyalty? Absolutely. Competence? Without question. But the quality that is surprisingly most often overlooked today is professionalism. The single most valuable thing a lawyer has to offer is his or her professional judgment. Sure, I graduated summa cum laude from college and wear the key of a member of Phi Beta Kappa. I’m proud of those accomplishments, but what matters to you, the client, is not that I’m smart enough to tell you the answer, to tell you what you can do. What matters is whether I have the maturity, wisdom, and professional judgment to help you, when faced with a business dilemma, determine what you should do.
A word to the wise - you get what you pay for. My hero as a lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, said it best: A lawyer’s time is his stock-in-trade. You are paying for my judgment, but it is measured in my time. That’s not to say that I will not negotiate fixed fees. For certain services, I will negotiate a fixed fee. Whether you are hiring me to represent you on the acquisition of a multi-million dollar home, or to take a billion-dollar real estate project through zoning, you are involved in a business transaction and I will work with you to determine what services you need, and we will come to an agreement on what cost and measure of billing is appropriate. We will do that at the commencement of the work. We will not always be able to know precisely what it will cost. We will rarely know in advance what a given representation, particularly where it is complex or where we do not completely control the process, will cost. Again, select a lawyer for professional judgment, and at the end of the day, you should be satisfied with the cost of the result because it is that judgment that is the single most important requirement to achieving a fair result.
-Gregory J. Cava, Principal