Client Service

Perhaps the most important thought in regard to service is that we strive to treat others as we would like to be treated. Or, put another way, our objective should be to help the client act and decide as they would if they knew what we know. We believe that subject matter expertise is important, but as with any profession, a knowledge base must be fully employed to be effective for clients.

Fulfilling that objective requires us to listen carefully and to ask questions that we know, from experience, will be helpful in assisting a client in realizing their goals. We pride ourselves on educating a client who wishes to have a detailed understanding of an estate or business plan. However, we know that clients may want to know only enough to have a comfort level, and that’s fine also.One way or another, we realize that while law is a profession, it has a business dimension made possible only by our clients. We may guide and advise, but the client directs and decides. We strive to fulfill the client’s purposes by all means at our disposal.

Turnaround Time and Delivery Services

Many of the services we provide result from the client’s sense of urgency, rather than an external calendar. For example, estate planning may be prompted by an event which is a reminder of one’s mortality. We understand that a client’s interest in estate planning may be a window of opportunity in which a plan can be constructed after listening to a client’s objectives and concerns.

Some client matters are subject to an external calendar. For example, following a client’s death, the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return must be filed within nine months after death. Similarly, the income tax return for a trust or an estate must be filed by a prescribed deadline such as April 15.

In the transactional area, there are also client opportunities that require us to help “strike while the iron is hot.” For example, we have assisted in business sales or merger transactions in which the pace quickened because of a buyer’s demands. We know how to make our pace match the client’s schedule.

Completing the Assignment

We excel in reaching closure, whether the matter is an everyday preparation of legal documents or a more unusual transaction. Our ability in this regard is not just a matter of being able to follow through on our dedication to having specialized knowledge in an area. Our dedication to our craft means that a client’s transaction or planning objectives will not have to wait because our resources are scattered across many other areas of legal practices. In our experience, broader objectives such as business succession planning often require more steps and take more time than a client might originally anticipate. Nonetheless, we know how to work carefully with the client to reach a satisfying conclusion.

Resources

Numerous subject matter areas within our specialty have been abandoned by larger firms that have turned to more lucrative areas of practice. At the same time, even as we compete with other specialized firms, we have access to the best thinking and information available to practitioners in our areas of expertise. Our attorneys have been leaders in bar association committees and other professional organizations, such as estate planning councils and tax oriented organizations in which both attorneys and accountants are active.

Our dedication to our specialized area practice has permitted us to participate in, and interact with, nationally recognized experts in areas such as estate and gift tax planning, business transactions and valuation matters. Very often, we can accomplish what our competition might do at larger firms with much higher fees and a larger number of attorneys, not all of whom are experienced in a given matter.

Fees

Our primary goal with regard to fees is to ensure that our services provide value to our clients at a reasonable cost in relation to the marketplace of legal services. After 26 years, we have a developed sense of the fees charged by our competition.

Our fees may be fixed, set within a range, or based upon hourly rates. Many basic or intermediate estate planning services, for example, lend themselves to a range of fees set and honored because the range of services is known and predictable. On the other hand, more advanced estate planning, or business related services, may best be conducted according to hourly rates. As a particular engagement becomes defined, the hours needed can be estimated and established within a range. Then, too, as more parties are involved, the ability to predict cost becomes more difficult. For example, a business transaction necessarily means that the party on the other side of the transaction adds input and their advisers create issues that require time to be handled.

However structured, we aim to have our fees be fair and in line with value provided. We are also interested in building client relationships over a longer time, rather than for a single transaction or service.

Clients occasionally assume that a particular attorney’s lower hourly rate is a “better deal” than if a rate is higher. That may be the case if the attorney providing the service is overqualified for a particular activity. We try to match the skills and ability of the attorney (or paralegal) with the requirements of a successful engagement for the client. An experienced attorney can avoid unnecessary research or false starts, and can more quickly assess necessary actions on the client’s behalf. Perhaps even more important is the ability of a veteran practitioner to recognize either traps or opportunities not apparent to one who is less specialized. By the same token, we strive to delegate so that the person selected to complete a given task is the one nonetheless competent, at the least billing rate.

Many straightforward estate planning matters are easily delegated. On the other hand, more complex planning or direction of a business transaction requires careful assignment of duties according to what the circumstances demand.

When billing by hourly rates is appropriate, we strive to spend more time on issues vital to achieving broader objectives. In other words, we aim to spend a dollar’s worth of time on dollar-sized issues and a dime’s worth of time on dime-sized problems.