Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ
Please review the frequently asked questions below. If you do not find the information you are looking for, contact us at (928) 753-2889, or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
AN INITIAL CONSULT: Why can’t I just ‘talk to the lawyer’?
For your protection. Especially in a small or rural community, we want to protect potential clients from conflicts of interest. This protection includes, but may not be limited to our office hearing too much about your case before we know we can help you. Also, many times, we are in a consult with another client, have court appearances or previous commitments and are just not able to take the phone call at the moment you are calling in. We have trained professionals to take your call and schedule an initial consultation.
DO YOU CHARGE FOR INITIAL CONSULTS?
We spend an extended time with you to understand your case and situation, and provide you with several alternate options, solutions and directions. We do this for a modest amount, which is less than our standard hourly rate for the time we spend with you. If we cannot help you or there is a conflict of interest, we will cheerfully refund your monies.
ARE BANKRUPTCY CONSULTS FREE?
Yes! There are many reasons why we choose not to charge a fee for an initial bankruptcy consult — and they all revolve around protecting you and giving us the opportunity to give you full and complete legal advice. We do expect that you complete our Bankruptcy Packet (see the Additional Materials Page) before our meeting to give us the best information we need to give you clear insight and teaching about your circumstances.
We do things differently at the Sippel Law Firm. We take the time to understand your situation and give you specific tailored advice to help you find your fresh start. We don’t want to waste your time on issues and problems that don’t apply to you at all. We are always amazed at the various things people hear from well meaning but unqualified sources and the confusion those comments can bring. There is so much information available on the Internet, and other sources, and not all of it is good, accurate, or applies to you! We talk about how to protect your home, your car, “beating the Means Test”, and other topics. This is why we offer free bankruptcy consults to those who complete our Bankruptcy Packet.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: WHAT IS IT AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?
You want, expect, and deserve the undivided loyalty and full representation of the lawyer you hire. A conflict of interest is a legal definition that is established within the lawyer’s code of ethics, which is monitored by the Arizona State Bar. The goal is to protect you, as a client. We always check to see if we have worked with someone else connected to your case, or if the representation may not be a “good fit” for you and your particular case needs.
Lawsuits, litigation, and civil procedure is the one arena that lawyers are truly the only professionals qualified to give advice, and represent you. Arizona’s Small Claims Court has a process to handle cases that involve claims under $2,000 (soon to be $5,000), where both parties can represent themselves with no right of appeal. The Justice Court system is for cases with claims under $10,000, and you can represent yourself. If however, you have a business or corporation, or are acting for someone else (such as a property manager), you need to have legal counsel. In most cases in Superior Court, you should have the advice of counsel. Today there are many forms available from the law library and on the Internet for everything from applications to change your name, file for divorce, apply for guardianships, conservatorships, and probate. There are even forms for some civil litigation matters. Having a lawyer guide you and give you direction, even if you handle it yourself, can be a significant investment in getting the job done right. Of course, we handle litigation at every phase from avoiding lawsuits before they start, to completing appeals after trial.
WHAT ARE LIVING WILLS, AND ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES?
You have the right to leave specific instructions as to the type and kind of emergency health care procedures administered to you if you are not able to communicate your own wishes. We call this a Living will, and it is part of the advanced healthcare directives that you can prepare. We also recommend signing a Healthcare Power of Attorney, or Advanced Directive, which appoints someone else with the power to make decisions for you if you are unconscious, in need of emergency medical care or treatment, or other medical decisions. We also urge you to have these documents part of your medical file with your family physician, and on record for any hospitalizations you may face.
The Arizona Secretary Of State has established an Arizona Advance Directive Registry into which you can file your Living Will, Medical Power Of Attorney, Mental-Health Power Of Attorney, or combination of all three. You can find further information at: http://www.azsos.gov/adv_dir/
WHY DON’T YOU QUOTE FEES OVER THE TELEPHONE?
Until we know that we can actually accept your case and help you, and what kind of case is, it is simply unfair to ask for a quotation or commitment of what a case might cost. We believe you should take the opportunity to meet with us first before you make a commitment and the investment to hire legal counsel.
WHAT ABOUT PARALEGALS AND CERTIFIED DOCUMENT PREPARERS?
We believe, and the Supreme Court of Arizona agrees, that there is a tremendous difference between asking standard, non-legal questions, and filling in blanks on standardized and recognized forms — and the practice of law, giving advice, counsel, and helping people choose among the various choices they face. Paralegals and document preparers have their place and can provide good service in the narrow circumstances that may apply. However, they cannot give you true legal advice. We believe that there is no substitute for the years of study, training, wisdom, and expertise that our law firm brings into every consultation. While representing yourself, you will be held responsible by the court. It will not matter what your reasons or intentions may be. Incorrect forms, or mis-information can harm your case. Paralegals and Document Preparers do not have a responsibility to the court, and may not have insurance to protect you if they make a mistake. We do. It is much less expensive to do it right initially, than to try to fix it at a later date.
WHY IS YOUR FAQ LIST SO SHORT?
This website is a resource designed to give you insight into how we approach legal issues and how our firm is different from other law firms. We hope you have learned enough to make a reasoned decision whether you need to seek legal counsel, and whether our firm can fulfill your legal needs. We look forward to meeting with you and giving you good, solid, specific advice for your special and unique circumstances.