What is the EXTENDED CONSULTATION?
Case Analysis – The Road Map
I‘ve been offering this unique service to Santa Barbara residents for more than twenty years. During that time I’ve seen more than 2,000 clients and many of those have come back to make sure they were or on the right path or to have me review their Marital Settlement Agreement after it’s been worked out with the help of another mediator.
The consultation takes place in a three-hour block of time during which the case gets my undivided attention. I can guarantee that at the end of the session you will know enough to be able to avoid being caught up in the judicial process by accident. Such accidental litigation starts with the engagement of a lawyer. The Teflon™ arrangement ensures that it cannot happen as a result of your consultation with me. It is a self-contained, “unbundled,” stand-alone service. You pay a flat fee of $360. You receive three hours of professional consideration. At the conclusion, our business with each other is complete. I don’t follow the case, and I don’t give advice as the case unfolds unless you reinitiate contact and schedule another full, three-hour session.
This means you get legal information and advice from a lawyer who is highly qualified to give it and who will be paid a modest fee for a three-hour block of professional time. I will have no ongoing interest in the case, and we both understand from the outset that my involvement will be limited to the consultation.
Pre-consultation. What to send? In an effort to make up for the fact that we are not sitting in the same room when we meet, I ask you to send me a simple balance sheet showing in general terms what you own and what you owe. No matter how much you have, you can summarize it for our purposes on the back of an envelope. I also need a copy of your two-page IRS Form 1040, one-page schedules A and B and both pages of your Schedule C, if you file them. Then, you can give tell me anything else you think I should know about and you should send copies of any other documents you think important. I also strongly recommend that you take the Toxic Divorce Inventory. I will read and make comments on these documents before we make direct contact.
Part One: Personal Context.
I will explain once again the terms of this professional meeting. It usually takes less than two minutes.
Then I’ll say something like: “Tell me what you think I should know, that’s not in the written material or that’s not fully explained in that material.” When the client is in my office this part of the meeting usually takes 1.0 to 1.25 hours to complete – I rarely ask questions or otherwise interrupt when hearing how the client came to be talking to me about his or her life.
I ask questions of my own.
I provide a legal analysis of the case. I explain the law that applies to the facts I’ve been given. This is a “default.” By that we mean what a judge would do if the couple doesn’t come to their own resolution. I will also explain the significance of the fact that your divorce is not toxic and why we say things like “a judge would do this” or “the court would do that” when it is so very unlikely that a judge (which is also what is meant when lawyers refer to “the court”) will ever do anything in your case except to rubber stamp the agreement you finally reach with your spouse.
Part Two: Options.
We next look at three questions:
- Do you need a lawyer?
- If not, what support is available to help you resolve and conclude your case?
- If you do need a lawyer, what kind of style do you want and how can you find one you can work with?
This is a full spectrum of ways to deal with your case. I’ll diagram and explain the pros and cons of each option. I’ll expand on those in which you have a particular interest.
If you need a lawyer, well talk about how they work in different ways and I’ll explain a couple of tricks for finding a good one. If you want me to, I’ll call the chair of the family law section of the Bar Association in your county. I’ll explain the kind of lawyer you want and will get informed (usually very good) recommendations. You and I will devise some questions you can ask when you interview potential lawyers and some instructions you can give with respect to the future representation.
Part Three: Decision-making.
Here, we talk about how you like to make decisions and the values and beliefs you refer to when you are chose from available options.
This is an opportunity to make what’s usually implicit (decision-making preferences) explicit. When you know how you are making decisions you can keep on doing the same old thing if the outcomes are good. If they are not good, you know what you’ve been doing so you can consider doing something else to see how that works.
Part Four: The Plan, the Chart and the Compass.
In the last part of the session we’ll devise a plan to get you from where you are at present and as close as we can get you to where you want to be in the future.
Sometimes the plan is simple. Something like, “Do nothing unless X happens and then do Y.”
Or it can be complicated and require the creation of Venn diagrams or a Harvard Decision Tree or any other kind of aid-to-thought that will be useful to you.
We confirm payment and the session is over.
Fee Schedule for the Consultation
The full fee is $360 at this time.
When done in my office the fee is based on the size of the marital estate and ranges from $360 to $1,250.
Because I’ve done so many of them I am prepared for any contingency and I’m able to orchestrate the use of time efficiently, so the client gets the maximum benefit for the money and time invested. While the protocol for telephonic consultations is very similar to those done in the office, I anticipate some differences that might result in awkward situations or transitions from one subject or another that will not be as smooth as I would like them to be. Until we’ve achieved full proficiency with the management of all the details (especially those unique to the telephonic or digital format) the flat fee for all consultation, regardless of the size of the estate, is $360. Furthermore, the client may terminate the session at anytime during the first hour, and there will be a full refund of the fee paid.
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If you would like to schedule your Consultation by viewing my calendar, click to schedule below.
Your self-scheduled appointment will be held for 24 hours, during which time payment must be confirmed. I will be in touch with you regarding documents helpful to the Consultation. If you don’t hear from me, please email me as there may be an error in the contact information.
Purchase your Consultation
Or, email me to schedule: Burke@NavigateDivorceGuide.com
It is preferable to meet in person; Santa Barbara is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year.
I am licensed to practice law in California, so I am able to provide legal advice or information only if the case is or could be filed in California.
(To practice law in any state a lawyer must be admitted to its Bar. In the east it’s not uncommon for lawyers to sit for bar examinations in more than one state. The California Bar Exam is an ordeal, reputedly the most difficult in the country, and its relatively rare for a California lawyer to practice in other state courts, except when allowed to do so in a specific case by an order [pro hac vice] of that state’s supreme court. I’ve noticed websites listing lawyers who ‘practice in all fifty states.’ This is such a preposterous claim that the most innocent explanation is ignorance and they are licensed in none of the fifty states. Stay away.)