As much as I hate having to increase my fees, and like the idea of writing about it even less, as the lawyer I am, I believe that not being clear and upfront about costs is a huge red flag. Almost since I launched my first website over 10 years ago, I have always published various fee schedules specifying what I charge in driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals, DUI cases, and criminal matters. A published fee list always was and still is unusual amongst lawyers, to the point that I’m not aware of ANYONE else who does it. And while I understand how most lawyers would rather establish a rapport with a potential client before talking money, I have always been suspicious of any person or operation that avoids or otherwise skirts around the subject of cost. Given that I’m the only lawyer I know who actually lists fees, it’s obvious that I’m in the minority here, but I have always lived by the golden rule – to treat others as you would wish to be treated – and this is one way I do that. I will get to the actual numbers later in this article, but to be clear, as of January 1, 2018, my fees in driver’s license restoration and DUI cases will be going up, as will my fees in most misdemeanor cases, as well. That said, none of my fees will go up very much, but I want to give some advance warning AND protect myself so that if someone finds an old price referenced somewhere, I can rely upon this article as notice.
Undoubtedly, one huge benefit I derive from publishing my fees is that I don’t have to bother with “tire kickers” and time wasters who either cannot afford the kind of service my office provides or who are otherwise focused on low cost. Price matters, of course, but it should not be the primary consideration in certain decisions (particularly medical and legal issues), at least for those who can afford to not make it so. For example (and I’m not out to insult anyone), I have been a Verizon customer for many many years. Once, a long time ago, I got sucked into using Nextel (they’ve long since folded) based upon the appeal that I could save a lot of money on my cell phone bill. Things are a lot different today, with unlimited calling plans, but back then, cell phones could cost as much as 30 cents per minute, so any break was a good one. To manage costs, I left Verizon (I think it was called something different then), got my new Nextel phone, and tried to convince myself that the money I was saving was worth all the dropped calls and inferior service I had accepted in return. The last straw came one day, while in the back of a Home Depot store, where I couldn’t get service with my Nextel phone, I borrowed my wife’s, which was either a Verizon phone, or it’s predecessor, and made a call that could not be made on mine. This drove home the point that you often have to pay more for better quality, but that, in certain situations, it’s just worth it.
In my capacity, I don’t compete, nor, frankly, do I need to compete, with any other lawyers based on price. In driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals, I guarantee to win every case I take. In addition, you will never meet another driver’s license restoration lawyer with anywhere near the passion I have for license appeals. Take a look around this blog; I have written and published over 400 license restoration articles to date. That’s more articles than the number of license cases all but the fewest lawyers will ever take in their entire careers (I handle about 200 license restoration and clearance appeals per year). DUI cases make up the other major part of my practice (I have put up more than 320 DUI articles), meaning that alcohol is really at the center of almost everything I do. In that sense, I’m kind of like a Q-tip, with DUI cases on one side, license restorations for multiple DUI’s on the other, and alcohol as the stick that connects them both. To make sure I’m the very best at what I do, I went back to the University classroom and completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies. I use this clinical knowledge every single day to produce better outcomes for my DUI clients and to help win back the licenses for my license restatement clients. That’s not the kind of commitment and investment you’ll get from any bargain lawyer.
Of course, some lawyers charge way more than me, usually based upon an unfounded self-belief that they’re worth it, or at least that by asking for so much money, the potential client will think they’re worth it. This can actually lead into an analysis of legal marketing; the newest trend is online reviews, and my web companies have made clear that I’m going to have to climb onboard this wagon, despite the fact that I’d much rather use my time writing useful articles than pestering every happy client to write a testimonial. Over the years, I have received, quite literally, hundreds of thank-you emails and even thank-you cards, but those won’t matter; it’s testimonials that have become the new “big” thing. I’m not real happy about being distracted from putting up good articles that explain how things work in the real world in order to “rank” with someone whose best qualification is being aggressive at managing reviews. And make no mistake, it’s all about management. Yet for all of that, there is little to be done if a competitor surreptitiously slips in a negative review, especially if it can be submitted anonymously. For the better part of the last 10 years, I have spent my time writing about every facet of driver’s license restoration, DUI and other criminal cases, and I think I’ve done rather well with it. There is no single resource as comprehensive as my blog, yet now, in order to “rank” well on search engines, I’m going to have to take time from that mission to bug my former clients to write a review of so many words and post it to a specific URL. This may mean that the lawyer or law firm that becomes the best at procuring reviews will be able to charge more simply because of that. As frustrating as that my be, it has always been my goal to attract the kind of clients who are thoughtful enough to see this kind of marketing for what it is, and who value real information.
My reason for the increase in certain fees is simple, and true: my costs have gone up. In fact, they’ve gone up a lot. My own personal heath insurance plan will go up about $300 next year, and it went up over $200 last year. In other words, I’ll be paying more than $500 more for health insurance in 2018 than I was in 2016. I also have to increase my staff’s wages. They are paying more for everything, as well. All combined, I need to up some prices a bit in order to absorb the hit. However, I’m not rounding everything up in hundreds of dollars. In fact, I think my price increases are rather conservative.
Okay, so now it’s time for the drum roll. As of January 1, 2018, the following will apply:
Driver’s license restoration and clearance cases: $3990, broken into 3 payments of $1330. That’s a total increase of just $90.
DUI cases – 1st offense: $3260, broken into 2 payments of $1630. That’s a total increase of only $60. 2nd offense and 3rd offense DUI fees will remain the same
Most misdemeanor case fees will now begin at $1100.
I decided upon these prices after much consideration about how to offset the actual cost increases that I will be paying after the first of the year. I could have just rounded everything up by $100 or more, but I’m not out to screw anyone, or take anyone for a ride. I provide an unsurpassed level of service that is WELL worth the money I charge. I earn a good living from doing honest work, I have long joked (albeit half-heartedly), about my conscience, because If it wasn’t for that damn thing, I’d make a lot more money. In place of just raking in the cash, however, I do well enough, and, more important, I feel good about myself and the results I produce for my clients. It may sound cliched, but nothing beats a sincere and honest “thank you.”
If you’re looking to hire a lawyer to win your license back, or for a DUI or criminal charge, do your homework. Look for information, and read around. Check prices, too (and run from anyone who won’t discuss it until you come into his or her office). You can reach my office Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m until 5:00 p.m., at 586-465-1980. All my consultations are confidential and done over the phone, right when you call, so it couldn’t be more convenient. We’re here to help.