FAQs


Do you provide free legal advice?
What can I expect the fist time I call?
What can I expect during an initial telephone consultation?
What does “without obligation” mean?
How much do you charge?
What is your policy regarding initial office consultations?
What forms of payment do you accept?
May I email copies of documents?
Can I transmit documents to you over a secure, encrypted connection?
Do you represent me in court?
What is limited scope representation?
Served with a lawsuit? Do these things in this order.

Do you provide free legal advice?

  Legal services, including answers to legal questions, are rendered on a fee for service basis. I offer no-obligation telephone consultations to potential clients seeking legal representation or services that are willing and able to pay reasonable attorney fees. Potential clients are not charged a fee for an initial telephone consultation unless I am retained.

  If you have a general legal question or are are seeking free legal advice, you are referred to my Avvo page. If you need legal services but are unable to afford reasonable fees, links to self-help and organizations that provide low and no-cost legal services to qualified individuals in Los Angeles are on my Self-Help page.

  If you have a question or comment concerning a blog post, post it as a comment to the post. I do not respond to telephone inquires regarding blog posts.

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What can I expect the first time I call?

  The first time you call, your call will go to voicemail because you are an unknown caller. If you expect to receive a response, leave a professional message that includes:

  1. Your first and last name, articulated clearly and spelled;
  2. Your telephone number;
  3. A statement that you can receive text messages at that number or your email address, articulated clearly and spelled;
  4. The reason for your call, including a brief description of the nature of your legal matter.

  If you provide all of this information, I will promptly respond to your call. If you have not received a response, your voicemail was incomplete. For example, if you left the following message: “Hi. This is John. My phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. Call me” — your call would not returned.

  This procedure allows me to avoid solicitations and other telephone spam. On subsequent calls, if you do not have number blocking enabled, your telephone number will be recognized and I will personally answer your calls and greet you by name when I am available.

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What can I expect during an initial phone consultation?

  I will verify the spelling of your name and email address. I may ask for additional information such as your physical address and the identity of others so I can run a conflict check. Once I have this basic information, we can then discuss your legal matter to see if I can help.

  I may suggest that we continue our consultation after you have emailed documents. Document review may be needed before we can decide if I can help. For example, if you were served with a lawsuit, I will want to review it.

  After I believe I have enough information, I will make a recommendation, and we will discuss fees and terms for my proposed services. I will do my best to answer your questions. I will ask about your budgetary constraints and ability to pay. Please be prepared to share this information. It will influence my recommendation and ability to help.

  Initial phone consultations are without obligation. I may require a retainer (fee deposit) before providing further services such as subsequent email and document review, legal analysis, and further consultation.

  For more information consult My Practice, Virtual Lawyer, “Representation Made Easy”, Technology, and Fees. Why should you retain me? Consult About and My Promises to Clients. Were you served with a lawsuit? Consult the FAQ here. Scroll or search Home for cases that have interested me and Avvo Answers for my answers to questions from Asker’s seeking free legal advice.

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What does “without obligation” mean?

  Initial telephone consultations are without obligation. I am not your attorney — there is no charge. If I am retained, however, all services including your initial telephone consultation and related services are charged according to our agreement. If you are charged hourly, time and charges are posted to your account.

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How much do you charge?

   My goal is to provide quality, effective legal services which meet or exceed your expectations for a reasonable, affordable fee. The fees I charge relate to my training and experience but are generally based on the amount of time it takes to provide services.

   An hourly billing arrangement is the best example of how my fees relate to time. When I can quote a flat fee, because the amount of time is fairly predictable such as in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or the drafting of a typical Will, the main component in determining my fee is still time.

  The only exception to this rule is when matters are handled on a straight contingency basis – when my fee is a percentage of any recovery. Due to the contingency nature of the fee, actual fees received on a contingency basis are usually substantially higher than fees would have been had a standard hourly rate been used to compute the fee.

   If we agree to my representation, unless the cost of my representation is expected to be $1000 or less, or when the situation makes a written fee agreement impractical such as in an emergency, we will enter into a confidential written attorney-client agreement which sets forth our respective obligations to each other, and which includes the fee arrangement we have agreed upon. If the cost of my representation is expected to be $1000 or less, our agreement regarding fees and costs will be confirmed by email and invoice.

  I follow the court approved practice for hourly billing clients: Time is entered contemporaneously when services are rendered on an non-bundled basis in tenth of an hour increments, rounded up to the next tenth of an hour. Invoices are generated periodically, usually monthly, or more frequently as requested. View a sample invoice. Further information regarding fees can be found on the Fees page.

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What is your policy regarding initial office consultations?

  Your initial telephonic consultation and my electronic document review of your matter are rendered without obligation, except in cases where I have quoted a fee for document review, legal analysis, and further consultation. In nearly all cases it is sufficient for both of us to determine whether my services can be of benefit, and whether we can agree on the terms of my representation. Should you desire an office consultation, instead of or in addition to those services, I provide an initial 50-minute office consultation on a prepaid basis at $350.

  If your case is accepted on a straight contingency fee basis, your account will be credited for your prepaid office consultation fee. If I accept your matter on a flat fee basis, your account will likewise be credited. If your matter is accepted upon any other terms, such as pursuant to hourly billing, your office consultation time, charges, and payment are posted to your account.

  Should you need to cancel or reschedule a prepaid office consultation, please call as soon as the need arises so that I am most able to accommodate. The prepayment of an initial office consultation guarantees my availability for your scheduled appointment.

  Prepaid office consultation fees are fully earned and fixed unless 24 hours’ notice of cancellation is given. A $35 administrative fee is charged for any cancelled office consultation with at least 24 hours’ notice. An office consultation can be converted to a prepaid 50-minute telephone consultation with at least 6 hours’ notice. No administrative fee is charged for a re-scheduled office consultation with at least 24 hours’ notice, or for an office consultation that is converted to a prepaid telephone consultation with at least 6 hours’ notice.

  By making a prepayment of $350 for a 50-minute initial office consultation from the Client Portal page, you agree to the above terms, and that the advance fee deposit may be made to my Operating Account. See the next FAQ entitled “What forms of payment do you accept?” for written disclosures required by the Rules of Professional Conduct.

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What forms of payment do you accept?

  I accept prepaid initial office consultation fees through PayPal, Chase QuickPay, LawPay (Visa®, MasterCard®, Discover®, American Express®), Zelle® (electronic funds transfer), and by mailed-in check, cashier’s check, or money order. Unless you are making an initial advance fee deposit (also known as a retainer), or are required to maintain a minimum deposit in my Trust Account, these methods and the payment buttons on my Client Portal page may also be used for payment of your periodic invoices.

  The Rules of Professional Conduct require that all advance fee deposits be maintained in an attorney’s Clients’ Trust Account until earned, except flat fee deposits following certain written disclosures, including that the client is entitled to a refund of any unearned fee, where the client consents in writing that the deposit may be made to the Operating Account.

  This requirement generally prevents acceptance of advance fee deposits through PayPal and requires payment procedures that differ from those when an advance fee deposit is not required. Therefore, written instructions that comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct for payment of advance fee deposits will be forwarded when your matter is accepted.

  Clients are encouraged to use the payment buttons on the Client Portal page, including those for payment by credit card and PayPal, to pay flat fees of $1,000 or less, and invoices that do not require an advance fee deposit.

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May I email copies of documents?

 Yes, if I have requested documents from you. In fact, it is my preferred method to receive documents. I also accept faxed documents under 20 pages. I do not review unsolicited file attachments or faxes so do not forward documents unless I have requested them. Document forwarding instructions are here.

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Can I transmit documents to you over a secure, encrypted connection?

 Yes. You may use the free secure document delivery service DropSend, or your secure service, to forward sensitive documents. Once a case file is generated, sensitive documents will be shared through my Client Portal. The Client Portal allows you to view, download, and print case documents over a secure, encrypted web session. You may also securely upload documents to your case file. In order to protect client privacy and the attorney-client privilege, I also communicate with clients and third parties via secure, encrypted email when appropriate. My SmartVault Client Portal is available 24/7 from your desktop web browser. Apps are also available for iPad, iPhone and Android.

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Do you represent me in court?

   Absolutely. I will appear for you, or with you, at all court appearances.

  In civil matters your personal appearance is rarely required except for trial. You may, of course, personally attend any of the proceedings. I handle most routine civil court appearances, such as case management conferences when allowed by the judge, via CourtCall. Promptly following any appearance you do not attend, usually the same day, I will report to you via telephone or email.

  I will also appear with you at your deposition and at any mediation or arbitration proceeding. I will attend most, if not all, depositions which have been noticed in the case and other discovery proceedings such as site examinations. In short, whenever my physical presence is required or beneficial to the outcome of your case, I will be there representing your interests.

  In most misdemeanor criminal proceedings, such as the arraignment, I can appear without you too. However, I usually request that you be present in the courtroom to consider a plea bargain, if one is negotiated, to save you the emotional and financial expense of a continued hearing.

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What is limited scope representation?

  Limited scope representation is when an attorney agrees to assist the client with specific discrete tasks for an agreed fee. Services may include consultation, document review and analysis, document preparation, and court appearances.

  Depending on your legal matter and litigation objective, I may suggest limited scope representation as a means to keep your legal costs within your budget. There are two types of limited scope representation: noticed representation and undisclosed representation.

  In noticed representation the court and other parties are notified of the limited scope representation. Undisclosed representation is when the attorney performs services such as providing legal counsel and ghostwriting but performs those services behind the scene without notice to the court or other parties. In each case, the client is self-represented and the attorney’s services are limited to the agreed services.

  If you believe limited scope representation might be right for you, please visit this California Courts page: Limited Scope Representation. The page further explains limited scope representation, when it may be appropriate and when it is not, and highlights its benefits and risks. Limited Scope representation is specifically authorized and governed by California Rules of Court, Rules 3.35 – 3.37.

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Served with a lawsuit? Do these things in this order. (Click here to download a copy of these instructions.)

1. Note when you were served. On a separate sheet of paper note the date, time, and place you were served along with any other details regarding the service you feel are important. DO NOT write on the summons or complaint, highlight portions of the complaint, or mark or write on any of the documents that were served.

2. Read. Read the summons, complaint, and any attached documents so you will know why you are being sued, when your response is due, and to learn of other important information.

3. Make copies. Make at least one copy of all documents that were served. If you can, scan all documents into a single PDF. You will need to forward clean copies to your insurance company and attorney, and you should always keep a clean copy for yourself.

4. Contact your lawyer. If you have a lawyer, immediately contact your lawyer and follow your lawyer’s advice before you contact anyone else.

If you do not have a lawyer:

A. But have reported the claim to your insurance company. If you have already reported the circumstances set-forth in the complaint to an insurance company, immediately contact the adjuster who has been assigned to your claim, or your insurance agent if an adjuster has not been assigned, and advise your insurance company of the service. Then promptly forward a copy of all served documents to your carrier as directed.

B. If you have not reported the claim to your insurance company. If you have not reported the claim to an insurance company, immediately locate each copy of any insurance policy, including amendments, which might cover you for any causes of action alleged in the complaint, including the declaration pages. The declaration page will tell you the covered dates, amounts of coverage, your policy number, deductibles, and will contain other important information. The claims referenced in the complaint may have dates which are several years old, outside the dates on the current declaration page. If you have older declaration pages, referencing earlier dates of coverage, be sure to locate them, too. Review your policies and declaration pages for coverage.

5. Immediately consult an attorney. You should always consult your own attorney when you have been sued before you report or talk to anyone else, including your insurance agent, about the lawsuit.

There are many reasons for this but the main reason is to insulate you from making statements that prejudice your rights or the case. In many circumstances there are insurance coverage issues which should be considered before the lawsuit is promptly reported to your carrier. In all cases, the possibility of a cross-complaint which might grant you affirmative relief should be considered as the best defense is frequently a good offense.

Only your own attorney, not one retained by your insurance company, can advise or represent you regarding these matters. Since there is always a very short window of opportunity, governed by the service of the summons and complaint, you should always contact your own attorney immediately on learning that you are a party to a lawsuit.

If you have been sued, and do not have an attorney, I would welcome the opportunity to explore your options with you. I can be reached at 818-971-9409 between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. Please be prepared to leave a voice mail message which includes your first and last name, your telephone number, an email address, and state that you have been served with a lawsuit. If I am not immediately available, I promise to promptly return your call.

Should you elect not to consult an attorney but believe you have insurance coverage, you should immediately contact your insurance agent and report the service. Failure to promptly report may result in denial of your defense and claim.

In any event, you must respond to the lawsuit in the manner and within the time stated on the summons, or your default may be entered and the plaintiff may be granted all requested relief — without you being able participate in defense of the complaint.


  Michael Daymude consults with clients and accepts cases involving the prosecution or defense of lawsuits filed in both federal and state courts in Southern California. For other types of cases accepted, please scroll the “Home” and “My Practice” pages. If you are seeking a legal consultation or representation, please give Mr. Daymude a call at 818-971-9409.

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