Statement Of Firm Policies
Lusk Law, LLC
(Effective January 1, 2021)
We appreciate your decision to retain Lusk Law, LLC as your legal counsel and look forward to developing our relationship with you in the course of our representation. This Statement of Firm Policies shall apply to any and all legal matters which you now have or may have in the future with our firm. Except as may be modified by the engagement letter or any future agreement, the following summarizes our billing practices and certain other terms that will apply to our engagement.
- Determination of Fees
According to the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney’s fee should be determined by various factors. When establishing fees for services that we render, we are guided primarily by the time and labor required, although we also consider other appropriate facts, such as the novelty and difficulty of the legal issues involved; the legal skill required to perform the particular assignment; time‐saving use of resources that we have previously developed and store electronically or in quickly retrievable form; the fee customarily charged by comparable firms for similar legal services; the amount of money involved or at risk and the results obtained; and the time constraints imposed by either the client or the circumstances.
In determining a reasonable fee for the time and labor required for a particular matter, we consider the ability, experience, and reputation of the lawyer or lawyers in our firm who perform the services. To facilitate this determination, we internally assign to each lawyer an hourly rate based on these factors. When selecting lawyers to perform services for a client, we generally seek to assign lawyers having the lowest hourly rates consistent with the skills, time demands, and other factors influencing the professional responsibility required for each matter. Of course, our hourly attorney billing rates change periodically to account for increases in our cost of delivering legal service, other economic factors, and the augmentation of a particular lawyer’s ability, experience and reputation. We record and bill our time in one‐tenth hour (six-minute) increments.
The attorney’s time for which a client will be charged includes, but will not be limited to: telephone, fax, email and text communications, and office or zoom conferences with our client, witnesses, consultants, court personnel, opposing parties, opposing counsel, and others; factual investigations; legal research; document review; responding to client requests for information to be provided to their advisors in connection with reviews or audits; drafting of agreements, contracts, letters, pleadings, briefs, motions, memorandums, court filings, and other documents; travel time; waiting time in court; court appearances, and time in depositions and other discovery proceedings.
The firm generally requires a refundable retainer in an amount that is appropriate with respect to the proposed representation. Unless otherwise agreed, the retainer will be held in a non-interest bearing trust account and applied to billing statements in connection with the representation, with any unused portion being returned to the client at the conclusion of the matter.
We make no promise or guarantee about the outcome of your matter. Moreover, we cannot accurately predict the total amount of our fees or expenses that will be necessary to represent you properly in this matter. The time spent on your case or matter can be dramatically affected by many events that cannot be accurately predicted. Any estimate of fees given by us is based on previous experience in these matters and is not a guarantee or limitation on fees. You should expect your actual fees to vary from any estimate given by us.
In addition to legal fees, our statements will include out‐of‐pocket expenses that we have advanced on behalf of the client. These out‐of‐pocket costs generally will include such items as court costs, filing fees, travel expenses, parking expenses, mailing fees, recording fees, color copies, exhibit copies for trial, service fees, research fees performed by third parties, and transcription costs. We do not charge clients for law office administrative expenses such as long distance telephone calls, facsimile transmissions, cell phone calls, and routine black and white copying. We may request an advance cost deposit (in addition to the retainer) when we expect that we will be required to incur substantial out‐of‐pocket costs on behalf of the client.
During the course of our representation, it may be appropriate or necessary to hire third parties to provide services on your behalf. These services may include such things as testifying experts, investigators, providers of computerized litigation support, and court reporters. Because of the legal “work product” protection afforded to services that an attorney requests from third parties, in certain situations, our firm may assume responsibility for retaining the appropriate service providers. If we do so, you will be responsible for paying all fees and expenses directly to the service providers or reimbursing us for these costs.
On the first (1st) and fifteenth (15th) of the month, when there was activity on your matter, we will send you an invoice for services rendered and out‐of‐pocket charges we incurred on your behalf. Payment is expected no later than fifteen (15) days after the date of our invoice. We use a software package named “Clio” to help us manage our law practice, generate bills for our clients, and receive payments. You will receive an email invitation to login to Clio to view a new statement. The very first time you login to Clio, you will be asked to create your own user identification and password; please remember your user ID and password. Once you login and download your statement, you will be given the option of paying the amount due with a credit card or ACH withdrawal. Alternatively, we gladly accept checks and cash. If you prefer to receive your bills via electronic or regular mail, please let us know. If you experience any difficulty retrieving your statement or making a payment, please call our office (443‐535‐9715) for assistance. If work has been completed on your matter and you do not receive any billing statement during the month, please contact us immediately and we will send a PDF of your most recent bill(s).
We invite our clients to discuss freely with us any questions that they have concerning a fee charged for any matter. We want our clients to be satisfied with both the quality of our services and the reasonableness of the fees that we charge for those services. We will attempt to provide as much billing information as the client requires.
In the event that any fee is not received within fifteen (15) days from the date in which it was billed, interest at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum shall accrue until payment of such fee is made. Should you fail to pay an invoice within thirty (30) days of receipt, we reserve the right to withdraw from further representation of you, subject to any restrictions imposed by any court of competent jurisdiction or the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition, we are entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs if collection activities are necessary.
- Scope of Engagement
We will provide services of a strictly legal nature of the kind generally described in our initial engagement letter and any subsequent engagement requested by you. It is understood that you are not relying on us to make business, investment, or accounting decisions, to investigate the character or credit of persons with whom you may be dealing, or to advise you about later changes in the law that might affect you unless otherwise specified in the engagement letter. We will keep you advised of developments as necessary to perform our services and will consult with you as necessary to ensure the timely, effective, and efficient completion of our work. Attorneys in the firm typically have numerous client matters pending and are required to coordinate the scheduling of activities required for each pending client matter.
- Necessary Information
It is anticipated that you and any other entities affiliated with you will furnish us promptly with all information that we deem to be required to perform the services described in our engagement letter, including legal documents, communications with opposing parties, financial statements, ledgers, receipts, invoices, leases, pertinent communications and documents prepared by other legal counsel employed by you in connection with prior or other matters. You will make such business or technical decisions or determinations as are appropriate to carry out our engagement.
Our engagement is premised and conditioned upon your representation that you are not aware of any material facts, or any current or historical problem (involving such matters as court orders, injunctions, cease and desist orders, judgments, liabilities, litigation, administrative proceedings, crimes, prosecutions or bankruptcies) on the part of any person to be connected with you that you have not fully disclosed to us.
You understand that the accuracy and completeness of any work or document prepared by us is dependent upon your alertness to assure that it contains all material facts relating to the subject and purpose of such document and that such document must not contain any misrepresentations of a material fact nor omit information necessary to make the statements therein not misleading. To that end, you agree to review all documents prepared by us for their factual accuracy and completeness prior to any use thereof. You also acknowledge that this responsibility continues through our engagement in the event that such document becomes deficient in this regard. You hereby represent and warrant that any material, information, reports, and financial statements, whether rendered orally or in writing, furnished to us by you will be accurate, and that we may rely upon the truth or accuracy of such information.
- Confidentiality and Conflicts
Because of our breadth and diversity of our practice areas, other present or future clients of the firm may have contacts with you. Accordingly, to prevent any future misunderstanding and to preserve the firm’s ability to represent you and our other clients, we confirm the following understanding about certain conflicts of interest issues: unless we have your specific agreement that we may do so, we will not represent another client in a matter that is substantially related to a matter in which we represent you and in which the other client’s position is adverse to yours. We understand the term “matter” to refer to transactions, negotiations, legal proceedings, and other representations involving specific parties.
In the absence of a conflict as described above, you acknowledge that we will be free to represent any other client, either generally or in any matter in which you may have an interest. We do not view this advance consent to permit unauthorized disclosure or use of any client confidences. Under the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, we are obligated to and shall preserve the confidentiality of any confidential information you provide to us. In this connection, we may obtain nonpublic personal information about you in the course of our representation. We restrict access to your nonpublic personal information to firm personnel and, as appropriate, third parties assisting in that representation. We maintain appropriate physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards to protect your nonpublic personal information. We do not disclose nonpublic personal information about our clients or former clients to anyone, except as permitted by law and Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct. We do not disclose to you or use on your behalf any documents or information with respect to which we owe a duty of confidentiality to another client or person.
- Joint Representation
Representing multiple parties in the same matter (“joint representation”) provides a savings over the costs that would otherwise be incurred were each of you to retain separate counsel, but it also presents special ethical considerations. We will undertake joint representation if you agree in writing after consultation with us about the risks of joint representation. You may also consult with legal counsel other than us regarding this joint representation
It is important that you understand that, because we will be representing all of you, you are considered our client, collectively. Ethical considerations prohibit us from agreeing with any of you to withhold information from the others. Accordingly, in agreeing to the joint representation, each of you are authorizing us to disclose to the other joint clients any matters related to the representation that one of you might discuss with us or that we might acquire from any other source. In this joint representation, we will not give legal advice to any of you or make any changes in any of your legal pleadings or documents without your mutual knowledge and consent. Anything that any of you discusses with attorneys employed by our firm is privileged from disclosure to third parties, except (a) with your consent, (b) for communication with other advisors, or (c) as otherwise required or permitted by law or the rules governing professional conduct.
Conflicts of interest may arise with respect to the subject matter of our representation. Based on the information now available to us, we are not aware of any actual conflicts associated with this joint representation. If you become aware of anything you believe might suggest an actual conflict of interest, please bring it to our attention immediately. In addition, if you become aware of any strategic or other considerations that in your opinion potentially could develop into a conflict of interest involving any of you, we ask that you promptly call such matters to our attention. If circumstances arise during the course of this matter that require or make it desirable that any of the joint clients obtain separate legal representation in this matter, our firm would be free to continue to represent the remaining members of the joint client group in this matter. By signing this engagement agreement and accepting our joint representation, you agree that, if it becomes necessary or desirable for any of you to retain other counsel, you will not seek to disqualify our firm from continuing to represent the remaining members that comprise the joint client, or any of them individually.
During the course of our representation, each of us may have the opportunity to correspond using numerous communication mediums. In addition to traditional delivery methods, such as postal service and telephone, constantly developing technology offers further means that are generally accepted and used by individuals and businesses. For convenience and expediency, each of us may utilize these other means, which include facsimile, cellular, video, and cordless telephones, electronic mail, and cloud sharing. It is important to understand that these mediums are not necessarily secure from interception or alteration by others and may not receive protection under state or federal law. Transmitted information is capable of interception and immediate reproduction, alteration, and widespread distribution at relatively little cost or effort. We intend to use these mediums to communicate with you and others during the course of our representation. However, we should each be aware of the security concerns and consider these issues when using these means of communication.
- Preservation of Evidence
We strongly encourage you to refrain from participating in any social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) during the course of representation. Information found on social media websites is not private, can be discoverable, and may be potentially damaging to your interests. Understand that information shared with others, be it verbally; in writing via email, text messages or letter; or even posted online could lead to the loss of attorney client privilege were that information to relate in any way to the legal matter that we are handling for you. In addition, do not attempt to delete any of your social media accounts in an attempt to avoid having anything posted there used against you as doing so can lead to serious consequences such as sanctions for destroying evidence. As such, by hiring our firm, you agree to retain all social media posts, texts, crowdfunded communications, and all other forms of communication. Finally, we also advise you to refrain from communicating with us on any device provided by your employer or any computer, smart phone, or other device that is shared with someone else. In addition, when communicating with us, do not use your work email address or a shared email account. You should only use a private email account that is password protected and only accessed from your personal smart phone or computer.
- Document Retention
We maintain electronic records of all client files and destroy (by shredding) all paper documents related to the matter within seven (7) days after a document has been received and digitally preserved in portable document format (PDF). If you wish to receive the original paper copy of all file documents, you should notify us immediately of your desire. Our policy of destroying original paper documents does not apply to signed wills, trust agreements, deeds, etc., and these original documents will either be retained by us in safekeeping or returned to you. After we conclude our services, upon your request, we will deliver to you a PDF copy of your files provided your account is fully paid. The firm typically retains files digitally for a period of seven years following the conclusion of the representation (determined either by the conclusion of the relevant legal process or by the termination of the attorney‐client relationship, whichever occurs first). Client is entitled to possession of the file in PDF at any time prior to destruction, but understands and agrees that the file may be destroyed in accordance with the firm’s file destruction guidelines.
- Termination of Engagement
Upon completion of the matter to which the representation applies, or upon earlier termination of our relationship, the attorney‐client relationship will end unless you and we have expressly agreed to a continuation with respect to other matters. We hope, of course, that such a continuation will be the case. You have the right at any time to terminate our services and representation upon written notice to the firm.
We are subject to the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, which list several types of conduct or circumstances that allow, or even require an attorney to withdraw from representing a client. Examples include: non-payment of fees; client misrepresentation of any fact, witness, or the withholding of evidence; misrepresentation or a failure to disclose facts about your case; failure to cooperate with attorney; client taking actions contrary to the attorney’s advice; client’s criminal activity; client’s declaration of some future criminal intent; client’s failure to abide by an Order of the Court; any involvement to commit a fraud; client’s insistence upon a certain outcome in the case; client’s insistence that the attorney take an action to which the attorney is adverse; client’s dismissal of attorney; client’s communication with the opposing party, opposing counsel, or a complaining witness at any time without attorney’s prior consent; or any other conflict under the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct that prohibits an attorney from representing a client. We will try to identify in advance and discuss with you any situation that may lead to our withdrawal. We will give you advance written notice of our intent to withdraw. If your account becomes delinquent, you agree to bring the account current. If the delinquency continues, absent satisfactory repayment terms we reserve the right to withdraw our appearance and to pursue collection of your account. You hereby agree to execute promptly any document needed to effectuate such withdrawal of counsel if requested by us.
- Disagreements Regarding Fees
In the event that you believe any statement for our services is erroneous for any reason, you shall notify us of the same within 10 business days after receipt of such statement articulating the basis for your belief. If an agreement cannot be reached with respect to the amount owed, you agree to promptly pay the non‐disputed portion of our statement. If we have to file any legal action against you to collect our fees and we are the prevailing party, you will be responsible for reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.
- Governing Law
Our engagement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland and venue for any action hereunder shall be in Frederick County, Maryland.
The attached engagement and this Statement of Firm Policies together constitute our entire understanding and agreement with respect to the terms of our engagement and supersede any prior understandings and agreements, written or oral.
If any provision of our engagement letter is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, void, or unenforceable, the remainder of the provisions shall remain in full force and effect. Our engagement letter may only be amended in writing by the parties hereto.
Your agreement to this engagement constitutes your acceptance of the foregoing terms and conditions. If any of them is unacceptable to you, please advise us now so that we can resolve any differences and proceed with a clear, complete, and consistent understanding of our relationship.
Our Legal Services
Changes to Maryland Landlord/Tenant Law Announced
Maryland has announced significant changes to the state’s Landlord/Tenant law, and all landlords need to become familiar with these modifications. As of October 1, 2021, changes will be implemented that…