For the last 30+ years, I have worked almost exclusively in the area of family law: divorce, modifications, enforcements, step-parent adoptions, establishment of paternity as a litigator, and in the preparation of pre-marital agreements, post-marital agreements (partitions), and co-habitation agreements . Additionally, I am trained in the practice of Collaborative Divorce in those same areas of the law, the process whereby parties contractually agree to keep their matter out of the courtroom, free from public scrutiny, and to settle their matter privately. Further, I assist individuals and couples in the preparation of a complete Will Package which sets forth their wishes concerning their end-of-life decisions, the distribution of their estate and the handling of their remains, including funeral arrangements.
I love the legal profession and have enjoyed a rich career. I am happiest when I am working. I enjoy educating people about the legal system and helping them apply that knowledge to their own situations
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At our initial consultation, I have three goals: 1) to get to know my client, to understand the general facts of my client's case and to ascertain my client's legal goals; 2) to educate my client about the legal system, the law as it pertains to my client's case and what a family court judge can and cannot do; 3) to assist my client in outlining a course of action which can achieve my client's realistic legal goals within my client's budget. That process alone takes between 1 and 1.5 hours. While, because my client is being asked to process so much new information during a period of anxiety, it is likely that my client will remember only a portion of the information and this process will have to be repeated on one or more occasions during the case. But, if my client and I can achieve this goal on the first visit, then I feel as though I have given my client what s/he actually needs bofore starting this procees (though not necessarily exactly what my client wants to hear.) I remind my client's throughout the litigation process that they are not hiring me to be their best friend. They are hiring someone with 32+ years of legal experience to shepherd them through a process with untold numbers of unexpected potholds and frustrations which they cannot navigate alone.
I am licensed to practice law in the State of Texas.
I am trained in the Collaborative Divorce process. In fact, I was one of the founders of that movement in Texas.
I have completed 40 hours of training in mediation and 24 hours in family law mediation.
I complete between 15 and 30 hours of continuing legal education each year in the area of family law alone.
I complete addtional continuing legal education hours when available in tax law, legal drafting, and wills and probate.
I charge $300.00 per hour for all cases.
Generally speaking, my minimum initial retainer for non-custody cases and collaborative divorce cases is $5,000.00, though if I determine that the case is quite simple or truly uncontested, I am willing to lower that retainer.
My absolute mimimum initial retain for custody cases is $10,000.00.
My retainer is called an "ever green retainer" which means that upon presentation of a statement for services wherein money is drawn out of trust to pay my fees and expenses listed in that statement, the client must bring that retainer back up to its mimimum initial amount. Failure of a client to live up to their contractual obligation in that regard is grounds for withdrawal of counsel.
An attorney fee retainer is for attorney fees, not for costs of litigation. The client is responsible for immediate reimbursement of out-of-pocket case expenses. If reimbursement is not made, those expenses will be paid from the retainer, subject to the client's obligation to bring the retainer back up to its minimum level.
I was studying at the University of Colorado seeking a degree in Public Affairs. I enrolled in a pre-law course taught by a lawyer for the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. He insisted that I abandon my major and go to law school. My advisor agreed. Though I did not do so immediately (I finished my bachelor's degree as planned), a few years later, I did enroll in law school in Houston, Texas, and graduated in May, 1984.
If it pertains to family law, I have worked with it in the last 32+ years:
simple divorce (contested and uncontested)
establishment of paternity
child support (establishment/modification/enforcement)
will packages (contains not just a will but all ancillary documents [about 6-8 of them])
probate of self-proved wills
probate of will as muniment of title only
Some things in life have to "fit" in the beginning or they will never work. That is true of lawyers and their clients. The client must feel comfortable ("comforted") by the words and presence of the lawyer. While I again admonish you that you are NOT hiring me to be your best friend, you are hiring me to explain the process in a way you can understand. Not everyone can do that and it is ok to determine that this lawyer can't explain "it" (whatever it is) in a way that I CAN UNDERSTAND (which is different from not liking what you are hearing.) I have never met you but I can tell you now that whatever it is you think the legal system can do, and, more importantly, what it can do, is probably wrong, either completely or partially. You've heard of "fake news"? Well, that is nothing compared to "fake information" about the legal system and what judges can and cannot do. Look for someone who can give you the bad news in a way which you can understand and accept. Failure to accomplish this admonishion will cause you great grief and cost you money (which you probably cannot afford to loose).
Family law is too complex to create an effective list.
You know what your questions are.
WRITE THEM DOWN BEFORE YOU GO TO THE INITIAL CONSULTATION.
TAKE NOTES DURING THE INITIAL CONSULTATION!