Standard Terms of Representation
Scope of Services. Thank you for hiring Cook Legal Services, PLLC d/b/a Mod Law Firm to assist you with your legal needs. For purposes of these terms, “you” and “your” refers to you as an individual, or your company, whichever hired Mod Law Firm to assist with its legal needs. Our representation is limited to the services included in the proposal between you and us and any subsequent, signed writings (collectively “Legal Services”). We are not obligated to represent you on any other legal matters.
No Guarantee. You understand that legal issues can be erratic and unpredictable; laws and requirements can change; and no firm or attorney can realistically guarantee the result of its legal representation. Though we will gladly offer an opinion based on our professional judgment, we cannot guarantee a specific outcome or result for any matters on which we work on your behalf.
Our Duties. We agree to:
- Provide the Legal Services;
- Take reasonable steps to keep you informed of our progress;
- Promptly respond to your inquiries;
- Ensure attorneys in our firm comply with the Statement of Professionalism issued by the states in which they are licensed.
Decision Making. Mod Law’s job is to advise you about the Legal Services we provide. Your responsibility is to make all decisions related to the matters on which Mod Law advises. You and Mod Law agree that neither will act without the other’s advice and consent regarding the Legal Services.
Communications. We strive to respond promptly to all client communications. Mod Law’s client communication policies are as follows:
- We only review and respond to client inquiries during regular business hours and according to our availability;
- We are closed on weekends, holidays, vacations, and as otherwise needed;
- We will communicate outside of our regular business hours as required, but only in exceptional circumstances; and
- A premium of 15% may be applied to the applicable hourly rate or flat fee for Legal Services required by you outside of regular business hours.
Email. We routinely use unencrypted email and unencrypted attachments to reduce costs to you and to expedite communications. Unencrypted email involves some risk of accidental disclosure of confidences, even if all parties are careful. For example:
- Email can be misdirected or improperly forwarded.
- Third-party service providers and intermediaries (such as internet and Wi-Fi providers, cell towers, and phone companies) might scan email contents or fail to prevent eavesdropping.
- Some courts have determined that attorney-client privilege and confidentiality do not exist when the communications occur on public computers or networks.
When you provide an email address to us, it authorizes us to send communications to that email address without confirmation that it will be used on secured networks unless it says otherwise. For that reason, we advise you and your representatives to: 1) only use networks you own to communicate with us; and 2) to provide us with an email address supported by those networks.
Your Duties. We strive to provide the highest quality of legal services. You and your representatives’ cooperation and assistance are necessary for us to do so. We are not obligated to provide Legal Services to you unless:
- You promptly give us complete and accurate information necessary for our Legal Services;
- You complete tasks required to work on your legal matters in a timely fashion;
may be higher or lower than actual costs and expenses and may change over time. All third-party expenses are solely your responsibility, and Mod Law will not be liable to you or any third-party for them.
Frequency of Billing. Your proposal will specify the frequency of billing. Invoices are due and payable upon receipt.
Questions about Your Bill. We believe that our invoices and billing procedures are clear and easy to understand. However, if you ever have any questions about your bill, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We want all billings to be accurate and understandable. Please direct any questions about services or billing practices to the attorney handling your matters. You must notify us in writing within thirty (30) days of receiving any bill if you want additional details about the time or expenses detailed in the invoice or to discuss its accuracy. You agree to pay in full all billed amounts not previously objected to within 30 days.
Interest. Amounts not previously objected to and remaining unpaid after thirty (30) days from the date of the invoice will accrue interest at the lower of: 9% per annum; or the highest amount prescribed by applicable law.
Trust Deposits. We may ask you to provide a trust deposit before we become obligated to begin or continue working on your Legal Services. We use these deposits to pay fees, costs, and expenses as they are incurred.
The terms for the use of trust deposits are as follows:
- Trust deposits serve as an advance for our security and are not an estimate of the total fees and costs of Legal Services;
- They will be held in an attorney trust account (“IOLTA”);
- You will not earn interest on trust deposits. Attorney IOLTA rules require any interest to be automatically paid to programs designed to improve the administration of justice.
- Your proposal will identify any initial trust deposits needed to begin Legal Services or estimated schedule of trust deposits. However, the amount of trust deposits ultimately required will depend on how your Legal Services progress; and
- Any of your trust funds remaining in Mod Law’s IOLTA account after the Legal Services are completed will be promptly returned to you along with a full accounting.
Flat Fees Earned on Receipt. We strive to bill most Legal Services on a flat fee basis and may require that all or a portion of the flat fees are paid before starting the Legal Services. In that case you agree to pay us in advance for our work. Instead of holding the money in our trust account, we will consider your flat fee pre-payment that is nonrefundable and earned upon receipt. That said, you may still discharge us at any time. In that event, you may be entitled to a refund of all or a prorated portion of the flat fee if the prepaid Legal Services are not yet completed.
Arbitration. If the state bar where you are located has a formal fee dispute arbitration program, you consent to the arbitration of any dispute that qualifies for resolution according to that program and its rules. The terms for the arbitration are as follows:
- You must promptly pay us any fee determined to be due by the arbitration award;
- We will promptly refund any unearned or excess fees determined to be due to you by the arbitration award; and
- any court having jurisdiction may enter a judgment upon the arbitration award.
Attorney Fees, Collection Costs, Venue. We are confident that our clients make every effort to pay us promptly and know you will do the same. However, our clients occasionally have difficulty making a timely payment. In the unlikely event that we are required to institute legal proceedings to collect fees and costs you owe us; you agree that the prevailing party will be entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and other costs of collection. You consent to jurisdiction and venue in Wake County, North Carolina if you reside in North Carolina or Multnomah County, Oregon if you reside in Oregon. If you reside in a different state, you consent to jurisdiction and venue in Wake County, North Carolina.
- You advise us of changes to the contact information and locations of you and your representatives; and
- You timely pay in full all amounts due under our engagement.
Your Information. Typically, only attorneys, staff, and contractors associated with us will work on your legal matters. However, another legal office may assist with the Legal Services if we close our office; or an attorney working on your matters dies or becomes disabled or impaired. We may also consult with an attorney who has particular expertise to discuss an issue related to the Legal Services.
The following terms will regulate our use of your confidential information:
- We may share your confidential information within our firm and in connection with appropriate external consultations or assistance;
- We may duplicate or scan your original files, and we will own the photocopies; and
- You may inspect your originals at any time with reasonable notice or have them returned to you in a reasonable timeframe at your sole expense.
Conflicts of Interest. We strive to identify and address possible conflicts of interest with our clients. Before we begin work on your Legal Services, you must provide us with the information we need to check for conflicts. At all times during the Legal Services, you must inform us immediately if you suspect that a person or entity involved in your legal matters might have a separate relationship with us.
Businesses. When representing a business, we generally only represent the business entity and not any single person. Among other things, that means that communications between our office and any owner(s) or appointed agents are solely to benefit the business and all its owners, not for any individual owner. During our representation of your business, we will take actions in the best interest of your company, even if that conflicts with the personal interests of one or more owners, directors, officers, or agents. We encourage such individuals to hire counsel to represent their individual interests when they deem it necessary. Our communications with any owners, directors, agents, or officers appointed to coordinate with us are for the benefit of all organizational decision-makers. It is your responsibility to instruct us clearly and update us on the agents, owners, or officers with whom we should communicate while providing the Legal Services.
Fees, Costs, and Expenses. We offer various billing arrangements depending on the circumstances, including hourly and flat-fee arrangements. Your proposal explains how you will be billed.
Hourly Fees. We base our hourly fees on how we spend time on your Legal Services. Hourly rates may vary by position depending on the attorney, paralegal, or research assistant completing the Legal Services. Applicable rates will be stated in the proposal. Hourly time will be charged in six-minute increments, even though our actual time expended may be less. While we can provide estimates of anticipated fees and costs for the Legal Services, we cannot predict the total amount of fees for services billed on an hourly basis.
Flat Fees. If your Legal Services are billed on a flat rate, you will be charged the same amount regardless of how much time we expend on the Legal Services, unless otherwise stated in the proposal.
Costs and Expenses. In addition to our Legal Services fees, we will bill you at cost for all third-party expenses we incur on your behalf. Examples include: postage, courier fees, travel, car rental, copying, computerized legal research outside of our plan. We bill automobile mileage at the current rate per mile authorized by the IRS for business mileage deductions. We may also request that you pay a third-party directly.
Before working on your matters, we will estimate and describe large expenses you are likely to incur. You acknowledge that those estimates
Lien. To the extent allowed by law in the governing jurisdiction, we will have a lien for all unpaid attorneys’ fees and costs advanced on all Legal Service; and all proceeds of any recovery obtained, whether by settlement, arbitration award, or court judgment. To the extent of any unpaid fees and/or costs, we may also take advantage of any other equitable or statutory lien available in the governing jurisdiction.
Termination. We do not foresee any circumstance that would lead to termination of our attorney-client relationship, other than normally completing our Legal Services for you. However, you may discharge us at any time by calling or providing written notice; and we may terminate our representation with your consent or for good cause. “Good cause” includes but is not limited to: breaching this agreement; failing to comply with duties under this agreement; refusing to follow our advice on a material matter; or circumstances that would render our continuing representation unlawful or unethical.
What Happens on Termination: When our Legal Services conclude:
- All unpaid charges become immediately due and payable;
- We will close your file and return any unearned trust deposits or fees;
- We will return any document originals or other property held on your behalf at your sole expense;
- We will not store originals or your property after our Legal Services terminate;
- We will keep your electronic file for ten (10) years after Legal Services conclude, and then we will destroy it without notifying you; and
- All materials we retain relating to Legal Services will remain your property except for our internal documents and where a lien may provide otherwise.
File Transfer. You must give us written authorization before we transfer its file to another attorney.
Governing Law. Our proposal, including these Standard Terms of Representation, will be construed and interpreted according to the law of the state where you reside.