Can I afford an attorney who charges $450-$600 an hour? The key is not the billable rate but the manner of their billing. Be wary of firms who each time the paralegal and the attorney discuss your case, they bill you. Be wary of firms who bill you for memorandums for the file, which are essentially their notes. Inter-office communications should not be billed to the client. It’s not for the benefit of the client, but for the benefit of the law firm. As an arbitrator for the Orange County Bar Association Fee Arbitration Committee, I see about 10% of the family law firms have billed their clients for inter-office communications.

Additionally, your trial attorney should have support staff, paralegals and associates who do the clerical work and some drafting of basic pleadings for them, at half the cost. Be sure and ask any attorney that you are interviewing if they bill for inter-office communications and if they have support staff.