- Those who want to handle a license appeal properly, and who are committed to putting in the time and effort and handling the fees involved,
- Those who are searching for a “deal” and are out looking for the low bidder in terms of fees, and
- Those who don’t want to hire any lawyer, preferring instead to try an Appeal without Representation.
All of my clients fall into the first group. I charge $4200 for a license appeal case (that price will likely go up sometime in the future), beginning with $1400 down at the first meeting with my client, which typically takes about 3 hours.
Some of my clients previously fell into the other 2 groups. Then, after trying unsuccessfully to win a license appeal case, they more or less moved themselves up into that first group.
In this article, we’ll explore the issue of legal fees in a driver’s license restoration case. I will share my thoughts on the whole issue of fees, and the services they should cover.
One thing to note about my entire perspective in license appeals is that it is founded upon my guarantee that I will win any license appeal I accept the first time, or any subsequent Appeal before the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), until the client wins and gets back on the road, is free. At its simplest, this means that I make my money winning these cases the first time. Every time I ever have to go back (thankfully, that almost NEVER occurs), my income is cut in half, and my workload doubles. I want my clients to know that I want to get them back on the road as much as they want to be back on the road.
I charge the fee I do because I am the best license restoration lawyer I know. I win these cases the first time, all the time. In the last several years, I have only lost a mere handful of appeals. And while I could offer excuses for those exceptions, I do believe that, in the end, the only thing that matters are results. This is why I back up my claims with a guarantee.
Every so often, someone asking how much I charge for a license restoration contacts my office. These inquiring souls have obviously not read much of either my site, or blog (if you look, you’ll see that this is the 110th License Restoration article I’ve written), upon which I rather conspicuously list my fee all over the place. Having not taken the time to read my rather extensive writings examining every single facet of license appeals (and then some), they often have no idea how or why my Fee is more than some others. “Man, I can get that for $1500!” they might respond.
My first thought is “no, you can’t.” At least not the way I do it. And you won’t get a guaranteed win, either.
Then I think, and might (rather politely) say, “great. Go for it. Then, call me back next year…”
Honestly, way too many lawyers think they can “do” license appeals. The problem with that is that in order to do them really well, they must be the bulk of what you do. You have to really concentrate in them. For me, that means about 75% of my day-to-day work deals with license appeals.
Yet there is far more to this than the whole “;awyer” thing. To succeed as I have in this field, a person must have a comprehensive and thorough knowledge and understanding of the whole panorama of alcohol (and drug) problems, from their onset, to their development and progression, including their assessment, diagnosis and treatment. Most aviation attorneys are pilots. Most patent lawyers are engineers. License restoration lawyers have to be experts in alcohol and substance abuse.
I could write about this until the stars burn out in the heavens (actually, I kind of have, if you look at how many long, highly detailed articles I’ve already authored on this subject), but there is a rock solid reason why this expertise is so important.
Of all the things that must be proven at an AHS hearing (and note that everything must be proven, according to the governing rule, by “clear and convincing evidence“), the 2 most important are “that the petitioner’s [that means the person filing the appeal] alcohol or substance abuse problems, if any, are under control, and likely to remain under control.”
To prove these things, understanding the disease of alcoholism and how one recovers from it and maintains Sobriety is necessary. You don’t just read a handful of books or articles and think you know this stuff.
And as anyone who has gotten sober knows, there is a lot more to this than just deciding to stop drinking, and maybe hitting some AA meetings. A person has to get past their denial.
For people who go to, or formerly went to AA, it means really understanding what it means to be powerless over alcohol, and to surrender, or accept that the only way to “control” an alcohol problem is to NOT DRINK. For those still active in the program, it means continually working the steps and finding new things in them every time you do.
It means continuing to grow in the program and, maybe someday, becoming a sponsor to someone else. It means filling up your cell phone directory with other people’s numbers, and giving out your own to newcomers.
Those who no longer attend AA still have to maintain a sober lifestyle. Even if they’ve done it for so long that it has become second nature, they need someone to help them go back and recount their transformation from drinker to non-drinker.
Anyone who has moved past a drinking problem and established a Sober lifestyle has certainly made huge and profound changes in their life. If they’ll just think back to what their life, and, particularly, their social life was like in the weeks before their last drink, including the alcohol kept in their house, the friends they had, the circles in which they traveled, the places they hung out and the activities in which they engaged (if any, beyond those that centered around drinking), and compare that picture to what things are like now, they’ll find the contrast to be monumental.
This all needs to be funneled into a story that satisfies the state’s primary interest, that the person’s alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control.” This means a person has prove that they are a safe bet to NEVER drink again. If proving this was as simple as saying “Man, I’m never gonna drink again,” then everyone would win their License Appeal.
Yet, in the year 2010, 75% of all administrative reviews for license appeals were DENIED!
A license appeal lawyer has to be able to talk about becoming sober, and Maintaining sobriety and living a sober lifestyle like a patent lawyer has to be able to talk about circuits, and an aviation attorney can talk about take-offs and landings.
I charge $4200 for a license appeal because I pour my heart and soul and time into it.
Honestly, I have more passion for this than anyone I have ever met. I think I have the best lawyer job in the world because when I take on a license appeal, and I only do that for someone who has really quit drinking and has really gotten sober, I’m dealing with someone who is on the upswing of their life. They are grateful, happy people.
I have absolutely ZERO inclination to compete in the area of legal fees with anyone else. In fact, as I noted toward the outset of this article, my Fees will probably be going up soon. It may sound cocky, or snotty, but any lawyer competing for License cases based upon fees is simply not in my league. Period.
Yet it does trouble me, at least a little, that someone will fork over their hard-earned money to some lawyer who claims to “do” license appeals, looking for some kind of price “deal,” only to lose and be out that money and stuck bumming rides for the next year.
I have a guarantee. None of these “low-bidder” operations do. Doesn’t that tell you something?
I’ve told this story a number of times, but it’s worth repeating. About 4 or 5 years ago, I began looking into having that Lasik laser corrective eye surgery. I was thrilled at the idea of not having to wear glasses. As I began to do my research, I was confused by all the different “deals” and prices and clinics out there.
Prices were all over the place. And who wouldn’t want a “deal?”
I asked my Optometrist for some guidance. What he told me was almost frightening. He first told me that there were no “deals” on eye surgery.
The best eye surgeons regularly bought the latest and greatest equipment. They sold the old stuff to the second-tier operations that offered all those “deals.” In other words, the best charged the most.
Although I don’t have equipment, I have time to invest. I spend at least 3 hours with a new client at our first meeting alone, just preparing for their substance use evaluation. I doubt many Lawyers spend much more time than that on a whole Driver’s License Restoration case altogether.
Then, after that first meeting, I spend hours reviewing and editing their letters of support. I spend time reviewing their substance use evaluation, and more time reviewing their file. Then I spend time prepping myself to prepare them, and then actually prepping them for their hearing. Of course, last but not least is the actual hearing itself.
My fee of $4200 is, frankly, a bargain for the services I provide, and the results I produce.
That’s why they’ll soon be on their way up. I have more than enough work to keep me busy. Right now, appointments are being booked weeks in advance. And for all of that, I can only wonder about the self-confidence and self-image of any lawyer out there marketing his or her services on a “low-bidder” basis.
If a person doesn’t think of himself or herself as top-notch, how can they expect anyone else to see them differently? Part of my success involves turning away those cases where a person is not ready (usually meaning they do not have enough voluntary abstinence and Sobriety) to proceed with a license appeal. I only accept clients that I am confident will win.
Thus, when I am sitting with a client and, toward the end of our 3-hour first meeting, they ask, “so, what do you think my chances are?” I can only respond, “excellent!”
I don’t take cases that are anything less, and I won’t file a case that doesn’t have rock-solid documentation. And it is MY job to make sure that documentation is rock-solid. This is why I can guarantee my results…
The truth is, the stakes in a license restoration appeal are high. Yet they are not life or death. It is highly unlikely anyone will die if they go without a License for another year. Still, the prospect of losing an appeal and having to wait at least another year, and then to have to fix the errors that caused that initial appeal to lose in the first place are, I think, worth making a wise investment in the legal counsel a person retains to get back on the road.
A person can look for a “deal” on a lawyer. I’m certainly not the guy for that. I don’t negotiate on price. The best “deal” I offer is to provide the very highest quality representation in a license appeal by a lawyer who specializes in this field, and back it all up with a guarantee
A person can try a driver’ license restoration appeal on their own, without a lawyer. Good luck with that. Odds are (as in, 3 out of 4), you’ll be calling me, or at least some other lawyer, in a year.
Those who want to win the first time, and not have to worry about losing all their money if, for some reason, they don’t, can call my fffice, M-F, anytime between 8:30 and 5, at 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.
Meanwhile, since you’re already here, why not spend some time learning about the whole license restoration process. I have covered every single facet of license appeals in painstaking detail in the Driver’s License Restoration section of this blog. If you have any questions, by all means, either give me a call or drop me an email.