Frequently Asked Questions
1.Who are we at Rodriguez Law Group, Inc. (“RZLG”)?
a. Our team of enthusiastic and aggressive attorneys, paralegals, and support staff have successfully handled thousands of cases. We are all fighters who work diligently for our clients to get the best results in criminal defense, civil law, custody, and divorce cases.
Our family law practice areas include contested and uncontested custody and divorce matters, as well as petitioner/respondent representation in domestic violence restraining orders. We handle both federal and state criminal defense cases, ranging from city attorney matters, to murder cases, and everything in between. Our civil work includes plaintiff/petitioner and defendant/respondent representation in civil restraining order cases, personal/plaintiff injury cases (dog bites, auto accidents, slip and fall, etc), and employment cases (wage and hour disputes, sexual harassment, etc.).
2. How long has RZLG existed?
a. Ms. Rodriguez has been practicing for over eleven (11) years and started RZLG. in January of 2012. Prior to owning and operating RZLG, Ms. Rodriguez owned and operated Law Offices of Patricia Rodriguez from 2010 to 2012. During this time she has practiced and managed anywhere from fifty-five (55) to one hundred and fifty-five (155) cases at any given time with a commiserate size staff.
3. What is RZLG’s process?
a. When a potential client calls into RZLG, they are immediately “live” transferred to a member of our pre-screening team or set one of our prescreeners calendars for a same day prescreening. This team will go through an intake process with you to determine what type of services you require and whether we can assist in the matter. We will ask you the who, what, when, where and the why of your situation. We have live transfer for our potential clients Monday through Friday, 11am to 5pm. Outside of those hours, our 24/7 answering service is available to get you on calendar for our pre-screening team to prescreen during the next regular business hours.
Once this prescreening process is completed and it is determined we can assist, you will speak with our seasoned Executive Business Manager, Rick Fiege, who will discuss your situation in detail and give you a price quote for the services you require. If necessary or desired, you are also then able to speak to an attorney for a consultation. This process takes 1 to 2 business days.
Once you have determined you are ready to hire us, we will send you an email with 1) a fee agreement that you can sign electronically and 2) a message outlining several payment options including; Zelle (Quick Pay), Direct Deposit, Quickbooks (including debit cards), Credit Cards, etc. Once you have signed your fee agreement and paid your initial fee, your client file will be opened with the RZLG legal team.
4. Why this process?
a. We use this process because it has allowed us to successfully help thousands of clients over the last decade. We find our process is organized and allows us to have the best and most efficient communication with; potential and current clients, court staff, opposing counsel, vendors, and all the others we interact with at the firm.
5. Why flat fees?
a. RZLG performs all services on a flat fee basis for a multitude of reasons. Even without a court case on their plate, the average person is already overtaxed and stressed with life's normal rhythms; surprise bills from an attorney do not have to add to that. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens with the hourly billing models that most attorneys use. The majority of law firms will tell you they cannot predict what a case will cost; however, that is simply not true.
You are not made to go to a car wash, plumber or grocery store and pick your purchases before knowing the price. It is not unreasonable to want to know what to expect up front. Here at RZLG we help you avoid the anxiety of unanticipated bills of varying amounts and determine the cost of your case in advance.
Hourly billing became the standard because it served the attorney well, not because it is the best option for the client. With flat fees, attorneys must be exceptional at their jobs to make the model cost effective. Cases are time
intensive and at hundreds of dollars per hour, bills rack up quickly.
In flat fee billing, attorneys take on more risk. They must shoulder the cost of litigation, instead of shoving that risk onto their clients. In hourly billing, clients have no idea how much their case will cost before it is over. Clients are often
sucked in by modest initial retainers that cover only 10-15 hours of an attorney’s work. The initial relief of hiring an attorney soon turns into despair as the hours and “unexpected” work adds up. Here at RZLG, we prefer transparency and to focus on delivering results as opposed to counting the minutes and price gouging.
A flat fee eliminates uncertainty in billing and gives clients the security they deserve during the legal process. Rodriguez Law Group, Inc. only charges by flat fees—no matter how complex your case is. Based on years of experience, we can determine an appropriate fee for the specific facts of each case. We provide you a custom quote at your closing call. This allows you the peace of mind of knowing what your case will cost up front and budgeting accordingly. It also gives you confidence that you know you will not be surprised by a big bill at the end of your case.
6. What are the benefits to flat fees?
a. The first is predictability and affordability. Yes, legal matters can be costly, but knowing the full cost ahead of time allows you to plan and budget accordingly. Providing an up-front quote also allows us to offer manageable payment plans.
Flat fees align the interests of the client with that of the attorney. With hourly fees, the longer an attorney works on your case, the more the attorney gets paid. While most attorneys do not intentionally overwork cases to get a higher fee from their client, the hourly model creates a mindset of inefficiency. Attorneys focus on hitting their billable hour minimums rather than providing the most effective representation for their client. With flat fees, attorneys are focused on the client’s needs—not how to bill more hours or tack on expenses for every client/attorney communication.
Flat fees also minimize the likelihood of your attorney withdrawing. In hourly cases, if a client is unable to keep up with the bills, their attorney generally stops representing them. This leaves clients without legal representation at critical points in their case, often resulting in them facing trial or settlement negotiations alone. With flat fees, you know your attorney will be at your side the entire case.
This system also encourages very strong client-attorney relationships and lines of communication, because another major drawback of hourly fees is that clients often try to minimize contact with their attorney to avoid racking up bills. This leaves clients feeling insecure and uncertain about their case. It also makes our job much harder to do. After all, we need complete information to effectively represent you. Flat fees ensure the attorney-client lines of communication are open without restriction.
It is also worth stating; legal strategies cost money and time. In hourly billing models, clients sometimes do not want to pursue a strategy because of the cost involved. Attorneys can agree not to pursue a strategy knowing it will be more time intensive than a client can afford, but that decision can put the client at a disadvantage. By quoting a flat fee for the entire case, attorneys can pursue the strategies they know are most effective for their clients, even if that strategy would be too expensive under an hourly model. You deserve an excellent attorney who also respects your financial circumstances.
Flat fees enable you to afford a better lawyer and have a better working relationship with your attorney. Flat fees allow you to focus on your case and move forward with your life instead of worrying about mounting legal bills.
7. What to expect when contacting RZLG?
a. Potential client: you will immediately speak to our prescreening team and then our closers. If necessary or desired, you’ll speak to an attorney for a consultation.
You will be greeted with professional, likeable and knowledgeable individuals who can help guide you through this foreign and difficult situation.
Current clients, opposing counsel, vendors: you will be greeted by our answering service who will take a message and email that message to Ms. Rodriguez and those assigned to assist with your case. Ms. Rodriguez and her staff will get back to you within 24 to 48 hours, most likely via email. You are always encouraged to email her directly as well.
If a court clerk or other court personnel calls us they are greeted by our answering service who will immediately transfer them to Ms. Rodriguez if she is available.
8. What to expect after hiring RZLG?
a. Once you have hired us you will receive a welcome kit from our retaining team and your file will be transferred over from the retaining team to the legal team.
Once the legal team receives your file your main point of contact will be Ms. Rodriguez herself, as well as your assigned attorney and paralegal. These individuals will be who you send documents to, who you reach out to for updates, who will be contacting you for anything related to your case, etc.
Internally your file will be opened in CLIO Management, assigned to an attorney and paralegal per our system, reviewed by the legal team to determine all tasks that must be completed on it, and then those tasks will be assigned out to be completed by the legal team. You will be provided updates as it becomes necessary AND/OR whenever you request an update via email. You will not otherwise be sent updates, as you hire us so that your legal issue becomes ours to manage.
9. What to expect from our accounting and support staff department?
a. The accounting department includes Rick Fiege, Suzette Fiege and April Fiege. These team members will send you invoices for fees and costs. These team members are also available to answer all questions related to the collection of fees and costs, including payment methods to the firm. These team members also help to fill the gap when the legal team is not immediately available. The support staff department can assist you if necessary with getting on the team's calendar to speak to a legal team member. Accounting/support staff will NOT provide legal advice.
10. What are the costs in a case?
a. Costs are expenses paid by the attorney out of the firm’s pocket and then billed to the client for reimbursement. Costs are not fees. Costs represent something that has to be paid to a third party outside of RZLG. Examples of costs are first court filing costs, personal service of documents, court reporters, transcripts, juries, etc.
11. What to expect from our paralegal staff?
a. Our paralegals are knowledgeable about the law and your case. You can expect your assigned paralegal to be able to assist you with filling out paperwork, updating you on the status of your case, etc. Paralegals will NOT provide legal
12. What to expect from our attorney staff?
a. Your assigned attorney will be familiar with your case and be able to help you with paperwork, hearings, give you case updates, etc. The assigned attorney can give legal advice but may not be able to answer all questions, at which time Ms. Rodriguez will be consulted on the issue and provide guidance.
13. What to expect from Ms. Rodriguez?
a. Ms. Rodriguez will be your attorney of record and oversee all things related to your case although she may not handle them herself personally. She will make herself available via email as much as possible and via phone as absolutely necessary. She responds to all emails within 24 to 48 business hours, if not sooner. You can expect that she is diligent and exceptional in her work and results.
14. What is RZLG's Communications Policy?
Our business hours are Monday-Thursday; 9:00am -5:00pm. Friday 9:00am – 1:00pm.
Client agrees to electronic delivery of file, court documents, correspondence from court and opposing counsel, court dates, and all updates on their case via email and/or Clinked and/or Dropbox. The client’s entire file, with the exception of discovery materials will be available on this secure server through the duration of the case and for at least 90 days after termination of the case and or/ representation. The client is responsible for downloading all materials when the case is complete, prior to the file removal date of 90 days. In the event the client hires new counsel, the client agrees for the Firm to deliver the file to the new attorney via DropBox. The client acknowledges that correct use of Dropbox requires Microsoft Office 2003, Adobe Acrobat Reader or later compatible software.
Email is the best way to reach me. Generally, I check and respond to emails and portal messages and emails twice a day between certain hours. This allows me uninterrupted time to work on cases and attend meetings outside the office as needed.
Emails and portal messages will be reviewed and addressed within a reasonable timeframe based on the circumstances. Emails, messages and voicemails received outside business hours or on holidays will be addressed during regular business hours.
We do not accept unscheduled phone calls. This is different from most firms, who will be happy to let you call whenever you like, then send you a bill for $100 per call.
I am often out of the office at meetings, in court, busy working on your case, working on other cases, or on the phone and as a result there will be times when you will be unable to reach me.
To honor everyone’s busy schedules, any phone call will be scheduled for an attorney meeting. Meetings can be conducted via telephone or the web, based on the circumstances of the conversation and our mutual needs. As a client of this firm making an appointment saves you time, avoids playing “phone tag”, gets your prompt attention, and allows me to better serve you by preparing for the phone call. Phone calls can be scheduled by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We find that we are most productive when we are able to work on our cases without constant interruptions. We do not accept calls from anybody – opposing counsel, judge, anybody. The answering service takes a message and sends to us, and we call back when we are ready and have time to prepare for the call, which might involve looking at a case, research, and / or calendar in order to have a ready answer. Unscheduled phone calls will be billed per the schedule below. If we feel a call is needed, we will call you, but most questions can be answered in writing. This policy is what allows us to provide quality legal services at fair, flat fees.
Emergencies vs. Very Important vs. Routine Legal Issues
Emergencies are defined as threats to life, liberty (freedom), or property. If you are facing a threat to one of these things - call 9-1-1 if in the USA.
We can, however, help you with legal emergencies, which are (thankfully) very rare in my practice based on the types of cases I accept. An emergency mandates an immediate response and I will be interrupted.
The following are emergencies:
Your children have been kidnapped (not taken to Grandma’s house in Tennessee without your approval) but actually kidnapped
DFCS is at your door
The police are at your door regarding a family law issue
The following, while very important, are not emergencies:
Someone is late picking up or dropping of the children
Someone doesn’t appear at all to pick up or drop off the children
You receive notification that the other parent wants to move away with the children.
My clients are asked to please consider whether the matter is very important as opposed to an emergency. Important issues will be prioritized and handled as soon as possible. I ask this of all of my clients so that I can focus on the matter I am working on without unnecessary interruption.
If there is an emergency send a detailed email with “EMERGENCY – YOUR NAME” in the subject line. If after reading the email I determine it is not an emergency I will prioritize it and respond in a reasonable timeframe.
15. What do we expect from clients?
(Source of 15: https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/what-to-expect-from-your-attorney-and-what-your-attorney-expects-from-you-45146 )
a. Be available and communicative. Communication is a two-way street. Keep your attorney updated on any phone, email and address changes. Be checking your email and messages consistently. Try to respond to your attorney within 24 hours - sooner if time is of the essence. Be an active participant in your case - ask questions!
b. Be receptive and open-minded. Sometimes your attorney may give you news you don't want to hear. There may be factual or legal weaknesses of your claim or the value is not what you believed it to be. Remain open-minded and work with your attorney to address these issues and develop a strategy to resolve your claim.
You can rest assured that your case is being handled with the utmost care to maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses.
c. Participate in your case and be thorough in your information. When your attorney requests documents, physical evidence, etc., diligently work to identify and provide these items in a timely manner. Put in the extra time at the beginning of your case to search for the things your attorney requests, even if it means digging through some files or inbox. Your active participation in your case may very well be the difference between a substantial settlement or a no cause at a jury trial. Once we have the materials/information from you, you will be free to rest easy knowing we are working hard to build a strong case.
d. Honesty is critical. This should go without saying; your attorney has a right to expect you to be honest. Do not lie. Do not destroy evidence. Do not hide facts. Your attorney can deal with "bad facts" and minimize their impact if made aware of them in advance. If what you have hidden, lied about or tried to destroy suddenly surfaces during litigation, there is not much your attorney can do to help you and your case.
e. Pay your bill(s) on time. Believe it or not, most attorneys do not enter the practice of law for the money. Some practice for the thrill of trial, to correct injustice, or to develop the law. As much as attorneys love what they do, it is also their job. You don't expect your doctor or your barber to work for free; please don't expect your attorney to either.
f. Keep your expectations realistic. Your attorney cannot guarantee a case's outcome. Our firm will never promise a result, but we can promise we will fight hard for your wins and that we are amazing at what we do. Litigation is fraught with uncertainty; no matter how hard your attorney works, there are many things that can happen outside of their control. Be receptive and open-minded if/when your case takes unexpected turns, and above all, have realistic expectations.
g. Remember, the attorney-client relationship is a partnership. Know what to expect from each other, keep expectations reasonable, and trust one another.
16. How do you work effectively with RZLG?
a. Plan Ahead: Likely you want your case handled well, quickly and for cheap. Unfortunately, it is rare that you can get all three of these. However, if you give your lawyer advance warning of what you want, you can reduce cost while maintaining quality. For example, if you are a potential client calling our office at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon requesting a restraining order by 9:00am Monday morning, you can expect to pay more than a regular RO quote. A last minute request such as that would mean requiring a senior lawyer to change their weekend plans or adjust their caseload to accommodate you. The price you are quoted would reflect the extra effort required to do something in a rush. The earlier you retain, the more time we have to prepare and the better we can minimize your fees.
b. Get In Line: It would follow that to plan ahead, you must also let your lawyer know if something is developing in your case/situation which may require the lawyer's attention. A lawyer has multiple demands put on their time. By giving advance notice you will enable your lawyer to plan his or her schedule and to assemble a team if required. If you get in line, everyone is more prepared to meet any demands of the case that may arise.
c. Keep in mind practicing preventative law: Just like preventative healthcare, the concept is you spend money to save money. If you avoid a legal expense early on, you may be setting yourself up for big expenses/losses down the line. Address things early and heed your attorney’s advice!
d. Take advantage of your lawyers' contacts and recommendations! An active business lawyer regularly comes into contact with a variety of people who you might not meet in your business - e.g. bankers, accountants, venture capitalists, mental health specialists, behavioral therapists, etc. Your lawyer also sees a wide range of businesses and business deals. You should make use of these contacts and knowledge by educating your lawyer about your goals, issues and objectives, thereby making the lawyer part of your extended management team.
e. Set Agendas: before meetings with your lawyer, send an email describing the facts, what you want to accomplish, and your questions. This gives your attorney time to prepare answers or determine if any information is needed from you. This makes for a more productive use of your time together.