KLO Edmonton’s Family Law Subscription Plan
Most lawyers, including family lawyers, provide services at an hourly rate, or for some services, at a “set fee”. However, the family lawyers at the Edmonton location of Kahane Law Office now offer the Family Law Subscription Plan.
The Problem With The Billable Hour (Why Our Edmonton Office Is Offering The Family Law Subscription Plan)
Family law is a unique area of practice. Families going through a relationship breakdown often find it more difficult to make ends meet. What used to be one household is now becoming two households. This increases expenses, but the income often remains the same as it was before.
Families going through a separation or divorce almost always benefit from legal advice, particularly if they are experiencing it for the first time. For some families, legal advice is critical. However, this can be difficult to plan for.
Almost all other family law lawyers provide services “by the hour”. This has been the industry standard for many, many years. Just because a family law lawyer bills by the hour does not mean they are not providing good value. In fact, the family law lawyers in our Calgary location still use this billing model. However, there is at least one main issue with the billable hour – lack of cost certainty for you, the client. With hourly billing, it can be very difficult to plan for your legal fees. How much you pay depends on what needs to happen on your file that month, not how much money you have available that month.
Lack Of Cost Certainty
Under the billable hour, the amount of time the lawyer spends on your matter determines the amount you are billed of course. This makes it difficult to plan or budget for your legal expenses. Some months your legal fees will be quite high. Other months, if not much is happening, they will be less. However, it can be difficult for you to know beforehand what type of month it will be – busy, or slow.
In those busy months fees can be billed in big chunks, which can create financial stress. That financial stress can influence what kind of decisions you make (will this cost me more money?). When navigating your family law matter, you want to make decisions based on what is the best for your situation; you do not want to be making decisions based only how much is in your bank account. If you run out of money, your lawyer will not work on your file. All of this makes an already stressful situation even more stressful.
Benefits Of The Family Law Subscription Plan
A Subscription allows you to receive the legal help you need, when you need it, for a monthly fee that is consistent and predictable. Your subscription price is the same each month. This takes the “volatility” out of your legal fee payments and allows you to plan accordingly. We have structured the Plan so that almost everything you might need is included in the plan. We want you to be able to rest easy, at least regarding your legal fees. You don’t have to worry about whether or not your lawyer will be asking for another $3,000 or $5,000 retainer. You know exactly how much you will be paying each month for legal fees.
How much will your divorce cost? No matter what billing model your lawyer uses, that will directly depend on how quickly and amicably you can resolve all of the issues and come to agreement. That is no different for The Family Law Subscription Plan, except you know exactly how much you will pay each month.
Forward Momentum – Moving Your Matter Forward Each Month
Under the subscription billing model, your lawyer needs to do what they can to make progress on your matter every month so that you are happy with your subscription plan.
Usually, family law matters take some time to work out and resolve. Once all of the issues are resolved, things can conclude quickly. However, coming to an agreement on all of the issues is usually the most difficult part. That is why tasks such as ongoing negotiation, most alternative dispute resolution processes, and procedural court hearings are all included in the Family Law Subscription Plan (see below).
Our Negotiation Philosophy
Litigation (going to court) is an important tool in family law matters. However, our lawyers that provide services under the Family Law Subscription Plan approach your matter with the mindset that a negotiated outcome is best, if possible. We view opposite counsel as a colleague that we will work with to help you and the opposite party resolve the issues. We strive to foster good working relationships with our fellow lawyers. Our experience has taught us that we can advocate for our clients much more effectively if we have a positive relationship with the opposite counsel. We always advocate vigorously for our clients, and are firm when the situation calls for it, but we do this in a way that is professional, courteous, and does not enflame the situation.
We are not argumentative, rude, or aggressive. Rather, we have found that that type of approach to advocacy makes it much harder to resolve your issues. Usually, the result of that approach is the exchange of long, expensive emails back and forth between the lawyers that do nothing except make the clients upset and emotional. The end result of that type of advocacy is that your matter will take much longer to resolve and will most likely have to go to court to get that resolution. Court is the most expensive way to reach a resolution in most scenarios.
How Much Is The Family Law Subscription Plan Fee?
The Family Law Subscription Plan fee is $1,500 per month plus GST and disbursements (disbursements are costs we incur on your behalf, such as court filing fees). The first month is pro-rated.
What Services Are Included In The Plan?
The following services, as long as they are related to your family law file, are all included in the subscription:
- Communications with you;
- Ongoing negotiation with the opposite party or opposite counsel;
- Meetings with you;
- 4-way negotiation meeting (up to a half-day);
- Mediation, Arbitration, or Med/Arb (up to a half-day);
- Collaborative Family Law meetings (up to a half-day);
- Written interrogatories;
- Separation agreement;
- Uncontested Divorce;
- File review when taking on your matter;
- Providing legal opinions on various related issues;
- Financial disclosure gathering and review;
- Preparation of your Disclosure Statement;
- Child support calculations (plus $70 fee for use of specialized calculation software);
- Spousal support calculations (plus $70 fee for use of specialized calculation software);
- Support arrears/surplus calculations;
- Providing you with resources for parenting, finances, etcetera;
- Access to various videos and other educational resources regarding the law in your matter;
- Transfer of Land;
- Dower Release;
- Drafting of most documents;
- Notarization and Commissioner for Oaths services;
- Property Statement;
- Tracing property exemptions;
- Facilitating direct negotiations;
- Holding funds in trust;
- Imposing trust conditions as appropriate;
- Emergency Protection Order initial hearing and review hearing (but not oral hearing where witnesses testify);
- Family Docket Court;
- Routine court filings; and
- Limited Scope Services, or Legal Coaching, including for one-off court hearings (where we are not going “on the record”):
- Advice for direct negotiations;
- Document review;
- Instructions for completing various tasks, including:
- Document drafting;
- Court appearances;
- Cross-examination; and
- Drafting a court order (you must provide us with the transcript from the hearing)
What Is Not Included In The Plan?
Below is a non-exhaustive list of services not included in the subscription. These services are provided on a set-fee basis (not hourly). This means that if you need us to perform any of these services, we will prepare a detailed quote in a Scope of Work detailing exactly what we will be doing along with the associated set fees.
- Any court appearance not listed above. Including, but not limited to:
- Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR);
- Early Intervention Case Conference (EICC); or
- Trials, although we may consider representing you in Provincial Court. We make that determination on a case-by-case basis.
- Questioning under oath in court proceedings;
- Anything more than a half-day Mediation, Arbitration, or Med/Arb;
- Anything more than a half-day 4-way meeting;
- Anything more than a half-day Collaborative Family Law meeting;
- Advice regarding tax (we do not provide this service at this time); and
- Legal services related to any other matter.
What If Nothing Is Happening On My File? Do I Still Have To Pay If No Work Is Done On My File?
The number one concern you may have is that you want to make sure you are getting value for your subscription fee. Nobody wants to pay a fee and have their lawyer do nothing on their file. So, what if nothing is happening on your file?
First and foremost, we do everything we can to make sure your matter is progressing meaningfully every month. We have developed our family law systems with accomplishing this in mind. We run your file differently than lawyers that bill by the hour. However, there may still be periods of time where not much is happening on your file. We want to make sure that, if that does happen, your file is handled fairly.
First Month Nothing Happens. After your initial commitment period (2 months), your file will be billed as usual for the first month were nothing or very little happens. This is the nature of subscription billing, and what allows us to stretch your payments out over time. The first few months in a family law file are generally quite busy and your lawyer must complete a lot of work to get things in motion.
Maintenance Mode. However, the next month that nothing happens on your file, your file will go into Maintenance Mode and will be billed $300 per month until it is reactivated, or until it goes into Dormant Mode. While it is in Maintenance Mode, your lawyer will still be reviewing your matter and attempting to move things forward.
Dormant Mode. If your file is in Maintenance Mode for 2 consecutive months, the 3rd month your file will move to Dormant Mode and no fees will be billed if no work is completed. Your file will remain in Dormant Mode until it requires additional work at which time it will return to the regular Subscription.
Here is an illustration of how this might work (this is just an example to illustrate how Maintenance and Dormant Modes work, not an example of how we would run your file):
- First 2 months, January and February, your matter is moving forward: $1,500 billed each month;
- March, nothing happens in your matter because (for example) you are waiting for financial disclosure from the other party: $1,500 billed;
- April, again nothing or very little is happening. Your file enters Maintenance Mode: $300 billed;
- May, the other party is just not cooperating, and for whatever reason, you do not want to use the courts to get things moving: $300 billed;
- June, still nothing, and you still don’t want to go to court: Your file enters Dormant Mode, nothing billed.
- July, your file is active again because (for example) we get the matter into Family Docket Court and things get moving again. You are back on the Subscription Plan, $1,500 billed.
Of course, if you are not satisfied with your service, you are always free to end the subscription after the initial commitment period.
Great, This Is Going To Be Much Cheaper, Right?
It is possible that a subscription will make your divorce more affordable, but how much your divorce costs really depends on how well and how quickly you and the opposite party can come to agreement on the issues. That is the same for all billing models. The goal of subscription billing is to provide you with certainty and predictability, not necessarily to lower your legal fees.
Is This Like A Family Law “Buffet”? I Get As Much Access To My Lawyer As I Want, Right?
We have developed systems for managing our files as efficiently as possible, but time is finite. As such, we are careful about how many files each of our family law lawyers in Edmonton take. We want to make sure that they are able to promptly respond to our clients and take significant steps each month to move each file forward. The Subscription Plan works as a billing model for us only because a number of clients are on the Subscription Plan. We must deliver value by moving all of our clients’ matters forward each month. That means any one client cannot dominate their lawyer’s time and attention.
What this means for you is that your lawyer will not always be able to respond to you immediately; they may need time to review any questions or comments you have in order to prepare their advice and responses for you. Of course, if your lawyer is spending time answering your questions, they may not be able to do other work on your file to make progress.
How Do I Get Started?
If you want to get started on the Subscription Plan, book an initial consultation with a family law lawyer from Kahane Law Office in Edmonton now. You can do that by clicking here, by emailing us at [email protected], or by calling 780-571-8463.