This is the archived version of our “about us” page. For 12 years, we practiced almost exclusively family law and divorce matters. However, in early 2016, Jim’s mother passed away, leaving a profound impact on him. As a result, we are transitioning towards handling solely estate planning cases.
Although we will still handle family law cases on a case-by-case basis, we are extremely picky on who we will accept as a family law client. If you are looking to learn more about our estate planning services, we encourage you to visit our new “About Us” page by clicking here.
If you are still interested in hiring us to handle your divorce, please feel free to read on and learn more about how we handle these highly sensitive matters.
At The Hart Family Law Firm, we are different than other attorneys you may have come across – from your first meeting with an attorney, through the conclusion of your case, you will find that we are not your ordinary law firm.
For starters, we do not offer a traditional “initial consultation” which you are probably used to seeing at other law firms. My guess (probably pretty accurate since I know a lot of attorneys that do things this way) is that at these meetings, you meet with an attorney anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, possibly more. If you run over that hour, you are probably paying for that time at the lawyer’s normal hourly rate. You may spend some time meeting with a paralegal, rather than an attorney. At the conclusion of the consultation, you are probably told how much it will cost to retain the attorney – should you choose to hire them.
I have tried to look at this system from the client’s perspective, and have come up with a different system that gives the client what they want (information and reassurance), for a set price – no gimmicks. The result is what I call a Divorce Assessment – and it is different than anything you will see at the other law firms. Click here to find out more.
The Divorce Assessment is a prerequisite to me accepting you as a client. I do this for several reasons:
- I believe that it is unfair to you the client, and me the attorney, if I simply quote you a fee over the phone (or after a short meeting) and assume responsibility for your case without doing much digging into your individual circumstances and the facts of your case. One thing I will tell you at the beginning of the Assessment is that I do NOT accept every client that walks through the door. I intentionally limit the number of cases I will accept at any given time so that all my clients can receive the attention they deserve.
- I need to know that I can depend on you as a client. When you get involved in a legal battle, there are often deadlines to be met, court dates to attend to, and other requirements on your time. If you, as the client, don’t have the time to devote to meeting with your potential attorney, then you may not be that serious about your case.
- The final reason I require my clients to complete a Divorce Assessment is that I like to meet people face to face to see who I am dealing with, and believe that you should meet me in person as well. In a world that is overrun with technology and text messages, too few people still do business face to face.
Quick Caveat Here: I’m picky about who I agree to work with, and turn down as many clients as I accept. If that happens to you, it’s not a judgment of your case or a reflection on you as a person.
It’s simply this: The Hart Law Firm is a boutique firm and we choose to keep it that way. We have no desire to become an “assembly-line behemoth” churning out cookie-cutter divorces. Each and every case is unique and different, and requires individual attention. By keeping my practice small, I can give more attention to the clients I do accept and keep my clients happy.
Since I have chosen to remain relatively small and retain a family-like atmosphere, I can work with only a limited number of clients at one time and still offer one-on-one personal service. For that reason, I look to work only with clients that are serious about getting divorced. If that sounds like you, we look forward to meeting you.
Once you Become a Client
After you complete the Divorce Assessment, assuming I am willing to accept your case and your fees have been paid, then we will begin working on your case. How your case proceeds will depend in large part on the strategy that we lay out during the Divorce Assessment. Ordinarily, I follow a hierarchy that begins with negotiation with your spouse or their attorney, followed by attempting mediation or another form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, and finally, filing a lawsuit. This is grossly oversimplified, but gives you a good sense of how the case may proceed.
As a client, you will again find that I do things a bit differently than other firms. First of all, I operate a paperless office. This is good for you because it helps to keep your legal costs down, and allows my staff and I to work more efficiently and productively. I have written a blog posting about the benefits of a paperless office here.
A word about the telephone – I strive to give all my clients the attention they deserve, and therefore only return calls when I am not directly working on a matter for another client. Studies have shown that it wastes approximately 13 minutes of time, or three tenths of an hour, if you are interrupted in the middle of a task to do something else and then come back to the task. That’s three tenths of an hour that is wasted on someone else’s case. As a result, I promise all my clients that I will not interrupt their work to take a call from another client and that they must expect that I will not interrupt the work for another client to take a call from them.
However, I can promise you that I will return all calls by the end of the business day, even if I have to stay into the early evenings (I’m usually at the office late anyway). Any calls that come in after hours will be returned the next business day.
If you haven’t already done so, click here to learn more about me, Cary Divorce Lawyer James W. Hart.