1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Ste 200
tel/fax (202) 355-9452

New Clients

Thank you for considering the Law Office of Lawrence J. Joseph for your legal needs. This page explains the background and procedure for discussing your legal needs with the firm and, if both you and the firm decide to go forward, for entering an attorney-client relationship:

  1. Steps in Forming an Attorney-Client Relationship

  2. Describe Your Matter in a Confidential Online Form or Offline PDF Form for Potential New Clients

  3. Special Concerns About Internet Fraud and the Timing of Payments

Significantly, the information on this page reflects the legal and ethical requirements of the state bars that govern most of Mr. Joseph's practice (California and the District of Columbia), and they may not apply to your discussions with other lawyers. In addition, different rules may apply if your matter is before a court or agency located somewhere other than California or the District of Columbia.

Steps in Forming an Attorney-Client Relationship

  • Initial Inquiry and Contact Information
    For initial inquiries, it helps to have your description of your issue in writing, including any supporting documents (e.g., a contract, permit, demand, or complaint). If preparing the supporting documents would be burdensome until you know that the firm will represent you, then an email summary can suffice. At a minimum, your inquiry should identify the state or country in which the problem has arisen, any opposite party or parties, and when the relevant events took place. The information that you provide will remain confidential, even if you ultimately do not engage the firm to represent you.
  • Initial Assessment and Conflict Checking
    With a written summary of your proposed matter, the firm can analyze your matter and propose strategies for resolving it. In addition, legal ethics can outright preclude or at least restrict a lawyer's ability to represent you in one matter if the lawyer already represents an opposite parties in your matter.

  • No Billing during Discussions of New Matters
    All pre-engagement time that the firm spends reviewing your materials and discussing your dispute with you is without charge. The firm will only begin to charge for its work if and when you countersign the firm's engagement letter, in which you and the firm agree in writing to enter an attorney-client relationship.
  • Billing Policies
    Although the firm will consider fixed-fee, contingent-fee, and success-fee billing, the firm's default billing policy for most matters is hourly billing at $300/hour with monthly invoices for both fees and third-party disbursements (e.g., couriers, filing fees, travel, printing and binding). The firm does not charge for standard online legal research or domestic facsimiles.

    The firm accepts credit cards (American Express, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover) through a credit card charge authorization form.

  • Geographical Scope of the Firm's Practice
    Mr. Joseph is licensed in the State of California and the District of Columbia, which includes all state and federal courts in those jurisdictions. In addition, Mr. Joseph is a member of the bars for the U.S. Supreme Court, most federal appellate courts, and U.S. District Courts in a few other states (e.g., the Western District of Michigan and the Western District of Pennsylvania). For administrative matters such as proceedings before a federal or state agency, the state of an attorney's licensing often is not critical. Finally, even in jurisdictions where Mr. Joseph is not licensed to practice, it typically will be possible either to get admitted for a specific matter (called admission pro hac vice) or to obtain local counsel.

  • Engagement Letter and Invoice for Retainer
    If we both decide to enter an attorney-client relationship, the firm will prepare an engagement letter to memorialize our discussions, to define the scope of the engagement, and to set out the applicable policies on fees and billings, record retention, and other key elements of the relationship. Beyond meeting any requirements of the applicable rules of professional conduct, an engagement letter provides the opportunity to ensure our mutual understanding of, and satisfaction with, all the terms of the engagement.

    In addition to the engagement letter, the firm also will include an invoice for the retainer (if any) that we have agreed to use for the matter. Unless we agree in writing to the contrary, the retainer will be a retainer against future fees (i.e., the retainer will remain your money until earned by the firm's future work), which the firm will maintain in an IOLTA account until earned by the firm. (The other, and more rare, type of retainer is a general retainer that the firm earns upon payment, but you must agree in writing to that type of retainer.)
  • Signed Engagement Letter and Payment of Retainer
    The final step before the creation of an attorney-client relationship will be your countersigning the engagement letter and submitting payment of any retainer invoiced along with the engagement letter.

With that background, if you would like the firm to consider your matter, please summarize your matter on either the online form or the offline pdf form. The offline form has a "submit" button for online submissions, but you also can print it and send it via email (intake@larryjoseph.com), facsimile (202-355-9452), or mail (1250 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036).

Internet Fraud and the Timing of Payments

The prevalence of a new breed of internet fraud can affect two aspects of forming an attorney-client relationship with the firm. The new type of fraud concerns a new client (usually located outside the United States) who retains a lawyer for a collection matter (e.g., alimony payments, contract disputes). The counter party (who actually is the same person as the "client") capitulates to the new attorney's demand for payment by sending a fraudulent check. The client then requests the lawyer to wire the money to the client, which the lawyer does once the funds show as available in the lawyer's IOLTA account (e.g., in 1-2 days). Unfortunately in this circumstance, the funds show available before the banking system can detect the fraud (e.g., 2 weeks), which the bank then deducts back from the account, leaving the IOLTA account short.

This type of internet fraud has two implications for forming an attorney-client relationship with this firm:

  • Alignment of Email Address and Client URL
    In all of the scores of apparently fraudulent emails that the firm has received from purported corporate or business clients, the requester identifies a real company or apparently real company that would be the purported client (e.g., www.A-Real-Company.com), but the return email address for the client contact does not match that URL. Accordingly, if you represent a business entity and your email address does not belong to the internet domain for that business entity, the firm will not respond to your email inquiries.
     
  • Payment of Any Proceeds Deferred until Funds Clear
    As explained above, the heart of this type of fraud is the lawyer's paying out a settlement before the banking system detects that the settlement check is fraudulent. For that reason, the firm will not remit any payments from any proceeds received on your behalf until those funds have finally cleared the banking system. As indicated, that typically takes approximately two weeks.
     

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