Frequently Asked Questions

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  • How does Santen & Hughes charge clients for legal services?

    Our firm offers three fee arrangements:

    In most circumstances, our attorneys charge for their services at an hourly rate based on the amount of time spent working on any given matter. We keep track of the time spent and send an itemized invoice to each client at the end of each month. The hourly rate for our attorneys varies depending on the type of matter and the attorney, and typically increases annually. We strive to provide the most economical service for our clients by using paralegals, where appropriate, whose rates vary. If no other agreement is set forth in a written contract between our firm and a client, this is the fee arrangement that will be applicable.

    Fixed Fees and Estimates
    Under some circumstances, our firm can commit to a fixed price for the completion of defined legal services. A fixed fee arrangement may be available for matters where the scope of the project is known at the outset and the expectations of the parties can be defined in a written description. In order to obtain our firm’s services on a fixed fee basis, the terms of the representation must be set forth in advance in a written contract.

    The scope of work for some assignments is difficult to accurately predict. In those situations, we can provide a non-binding estimate of the range of fees that is likely to be incurred, however, our estimates do not constitute an agreement to provide services for a fixed fee.

    Contingent Fee Agreements
    In some cases, our attorneys represent clients on a contingent basis. In these cases, our clients are only obligated to pay any legal fees if we succeed in recovering funds for the client. Our contingent fee agreements require the client to pay the expenses of litigation, even if no recovery is obtained.  In these cases, our fee is paid when the claim is paid, and our fee is a percentage of the settlement or judgment recovered. Personal injury, medical malpractice and employee discrimination or harassment cases are sometimes appropriate for contingent fee arrangements. In any case where our firm provides services on a contingent basis, the terms of the representation must be set forth in advance in a written contract.

    In many types of cases, expenses arise during the course of the representation. Expenses may include filing fees, court reporters, expert witnesses, couriers, document production and other costs. Under each of our fee agreements, the expenses of the representation are the responsibility of the client, and we ordinarily request that the client pay the expenses on an ongoing basis.

    Retainer Fees
    Our firm sometimes request to be paid a retainer fee. This fee is deposited into the firm's trust account. It may subsequently be applied to pay legal fees and expenses on a monthly or other periodic basis. Retainer fees are refundable if not used in full. No interest is paid on retainer fees. The amount of the retainer fee is not an estimate of the fees and expenses to be incurred in a particular matter. If the retainer fee is depleted, we may ask the client to replenish it in the same or some other amount.

    Are my communications with attorneys at Santen & Hughes confidential?
    Most communications between clients and attorneys are subject to the attorney/client privilege. Please discuss with your attorney how this privilege may be inadvertently waived, for instance by discussing conversations you have had with your attorney or with other people.

  • Do you accept credit cards as a form of payment?

    We gladly accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.

  • Can you represent another person or entity in a matter about which I seek legal counsel?

    By all means, discuss this with your attorney when you first talk with them. Disclose the identity of all parties, both adverse and friendly, all witnesses, and other who may have some relationship to your matter. We have a system for checking potential conflicts of interest, and can quickly let you know whether we perceive thre to be any.

  • How do I know that my attorney has experience in the matter I want them to handle?

    Discuss this with your attorney. Our attorneys deal in a wide variety of subject areas, and some are more experienced in certain areas than others. We want every legal matter that comes to us to be handled by the attorney or attorneys best suited to handle it. We may involved other attorneys in our frim to work on your matter. In some instances, if we think that the client would be better served by counsel outside our firm, who has more expertise in a certain area, we will make these recommendations to you.