How Does Your Billing System Work?
Costs Questions & Answers
How does your billing system work?
The attorney will usually quote you a retainer amount at the time of your initial consultation. When paid, this retainer goes into our escrow account, to be used only when we work on your case. We will bill against your retainer, and take money out of our escrow account to pay ourselves on a monthly basis. We will also send you monthly activity and billing statements.
What are your billing rates?
Our partners, Natalie Parker Bluestein and Jane Nussbaum Douglas, charge $350 per hour. Our associate charges $200 per hour. We charge $125 per hour for all other office staff.
What time will I be billed for?
When we work on your case, the smallest increment of time charged is one quarter of an hour, or 15 minutes. Our attorneys and office staff bill for all of the time they spend on your case. This includes, but is not limited to, client meetings, all communications (telephone calls, text messages, emails and letters) to you, all communications with opposing or associated counsel, all communications with the court, and all communications with potential witnesses and experts. We also bill for drafting pleadings and letters, reviewing and revising pleadings and letters, legal research, and fact research, file organization, document review, and discovery. We also charge a $50 administrative fee when we open your file.
What expenses will I be billed for?
The Family Court’s current filing fees are $150 for initial pleadings and $25 for motions and most rules to show cause. You are responsible for these costs, and usually for the cost of a process server to serve your opposing party. You are responsible for the costs of any experts, therapists, mediators, arbitrators, and other litigation costs.
Will I be billed for routine costs?
You will not be billed for routine copying and for routine postage. However, if volume copying needs to be done, we send the documents out to a professional copying company, for which you will pay. You will be billed for the cost of certified mail, overnight express deliveries, and process servers.
What happens after my retainer money has been used up?
Our retainer agreement requires you to replenish your retainer when the amount in our escrow account drops below $1000.
What happens if I still have money left after the end of my case?
We will reimburse all money paid by you which remains in our escrow account at the conclusion of your case.
Can my spouse or ex-spouse be court ordered to pay my attorney’s fees?
We often include a request for attorney’s fees and costs in your pleadings, and the Family Court may order that these payments be made. However, you remain personally responsible for your own attorney’s fees, even if a court order requiring payment by another party is in effect. You will be reimbursed by our office for any fees you have paid which are subsequently paid pursuant to a court order.
What if I have questions about my bill?
You should feel free to question your bill. Our office will not charge for time we spend answering your billing questions.
What happens if I decide to switch attorneys?
The attorney-client relationship is incredibly important to both you and us. If either you or our attorney comes to believe that this relationship is not working, we are both free to terminate representation. If the case is pending and our attorney has appeared as attorney of record in your case, a court order is necessary to relieve us as counsel. You will be reimbursed any money left in your escrow account after we stop work on your case. Likewise, you will owe us for any outstanding balance due at the end of your attorney-client relationship.
What happens if I owe money to Bluestein & Douglas, or if I believe Bluestein & Douglas owes me money?
Our retainer agreement provides that fee disputes are submitted to the Resolution of Fee Disputes Board of the South Carolina Bar Association.
Natalie Parker Bluestein is 2014 President of the Charleston County Bar Association