I have taken you through the first stages of hiring an Italian attorney to represent me via my two previous posts. Now, I will shed light on what I did to attempt to negotiate a fair rate for myself. The questions posted below are ones that you should consider asking of any attorney you seek to hire. Why do I say that? Because an attorney with many years of experience recommended I ask these questions to the Italian firm. And I promise you, this man knows his stuff.
“Thank you for your letter. I found the information you provided helpful. I do, however, have some additional questions for you regarding the Italian legal system, as well as the hiring of your services.
Please know that I am very interested in retaining your services, but while I have significant interest in the case against my attacker, I do not have a lot of money. Therefore, I have several questions for you about your fee structure:
- Can you estimate for me how many hours per month you anticipate billing me given what you know about the case currently? What is normal for a case like this?
- Is there a good level of service I can obtain – perhaps with a more junior attorney in your firm – that would reduce the hourly fee?
- Are there months that go by where no work is done on the case given how long legal proceedings take in Italy?
- Are you willing to work for a flat fee or a monthly retainer, perhaps?
- Would it be possible to agree on a specified amount per month and that additional costs would be conditional to my approval?
- What are civil damages and are they commonly awarded in cases such as mine?
- What is the likelihood of my fees being paid by my attacker should he be found guilty?
- Would you consider a contingency arrangement where you receive a percentage of whatever I receive in civil damages?
Please let me know as I am eager to retain your services and continue to progress with my case.
With regards to my case, I have a few questions:
- If Marco is arrested this week, does that mean he stays in jail until trial? Do you have a bail system in Italy?
- Can/will his attorney investigate me? Subpoena me, perhaps?
- Please know I did some research on Marco and his father, and his father is actually well-regarded and connected. My concern is that Marco’s father will “pull some strings” to get the case against his son dismissed. Is that a reasonable fear?”
I eagerly awaited the response. It was December 2008, and it was a big month for me. I was to close on my first home – something I had saved for 10 years to purchase. And I was about to embark on a lengthy legal battle against the man who almost prevented me from ever stepping foot inside it.
QUOTE: “While others may argue about whether the world ends with a bang or a whimper, I just want to make sure mine doesn’t end with a whine.” – TV producer Barbara Gordon ( Women’s Wit and Wisdom; Runner’s Press)