Q. Where are you licensed to practice?
We are licensed in California and can help across California and Federal courts (immigration) across the country.
Q. What is your fee schedule?
Our fee schedule is based on a “pay-as-you-go” model in which the client knows how much each stage costs. There is never a $5,000 or more “retainer.” Meet with your lawyer in 30-minute increments at any time, just click the link to access our online calendar.
Q. How do I pay?
Pay ahead of time via credit card and if you need to extend your conversation with your lawyer you can conveniently pay to extend (almost like a pre-paid phone card).
Q. What can you help me with?
The FLIC family law attorneys help with filings, declarations, findings and orders after hearing, financial disclosures, judgments and fixing hopelessly broken cases. We help with paternity lawsuits (filing and defending), child support, custody and visitation orders, visiting other countries on school holidays, dividing property here and in another country or state, spousal support and terminating parental rights.
Q. What is the difference between the services you provide and services that Notarios and LDAs provide?
Where we really shine is in finding things for you to ask for from the court that you didn’t know you could ask for! We help you figure out what you are getting half of and then how to ask for it. Notarios and LDAs cannot give you legal advice and because they haven’t been to law school, they do not know how. If you could spend $200 or even $500 to get half of a $25,000 asset you didn’t know you had, you would obviously do it. That is what we help you identify and understand and we keep the cost low to help you afford it.
Q. Where are you located?
We are based in the farming community of Santa Maria, CA, but we assist people with family law and immigration issues across the state, in particular farming communities in Watsonville (Santa Cruz County), Salinas/King City/Greenfield/Soledad (Monterey County), Paso Robles (San Luis Obispo County), Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County), Oxnard (Ventura County) and Kern and Fresno Counties.
Q. How do I schedule an appointment?
FLIC attorneys & staff are meeting with clients via Zoom, phone or WhatsApp. Set up your appointment online – click here or email to firstname.lastname@example.org No problem, set up a phone appointment with us HERE or email email@example.com
Q. Do you offer services to victims of domestic violence?
Yes, we do offer free service to victims of domestic violence seeking restraining orders; however, you must be referred by a domestic violence shelter, a state or county agency, or be a victim of criminal domestic violence with an active case.
Q. Can I call or email whenever I want?
No. This lower-cost model only works if you go to the online portal and make and pay for your appointment. We price appointments in 30-minute increments in order to keep your costs lower (rather than in one-hour blocks or in unlimited blocks). You can always buy more time, but you should not need to. Save your money and questions for a 30-minute appointment. Then use your time wisely. This is the best use of your money and will stop needless financial bleeding.
Therefore, your lawyer will not give advice, answer emails or pick up the phone to discuss your case with you unless you have gone through the appointment system on the internet or set an appointment with our receptionist. The receptionist is incredibly nice but they are not trained to give legal advice.
Q. What is the “clinic” model?
Law clinics are traditional method of legal training for law students, where students are overseen by lawyers. They meet with clients and advise clients, but lawyers oversee them. This is a method of legal training that helps them become lawyers.
We base our model on that model. For now, our geographic area has far fewer lawyers than the need for lawyers. Further, for so many people, hiring a lawyer is not an option; they simply do not have the $5,000-10,000 required to hire a lawyer to do it for them. On the whole, the gray market for Legal Document Assistants – in place to help resolve this problem – is simply creating other problems. LDAs cannot, by law, give legal advice. But they are increasingly called upon to give it without any training in the law. What’s more difficult for LDAs is that they have never litigated, which means they have very little information and feedback about the services they render. This means that, although they can help in simple matters, too many times, because they are not lawyers and do not know the law, they make huge mistakes that cost clients tens of thousands of dollars or hurt their chances with their children or cost them the family business.
In our offices, the client will meet with a lawyer to discuss their case. The lawyer will then tell the paralegals and legal interns how the paperwork should be prepared and then the lawyer reviews everything before it gets filed. We keep your costs down by working with you – meaning you provide assistance, verify the accuracy of all documents we prepare, and ultimately you go to court without a lawyer there to assist you.
By overseeing an office of paralegals and interns, we operate more like a medical office or clinic, in which the doctor is consulted on numerous cases, each of which is handled by trained nurses and physician’s assistants who continue to consult with the doctor. Like a doctor’s office, the client may, at any time, ask to see the lawyer and simply pay the lawyer’s hourly (or half hourly) fee and go over finer aspects of the case. The lawyer bills at a standard rate – $400 per hour – but the lawyer bills in 30 minute increments and only bills for time agreed upon with the client. Therefore, the client is never surprised by the bill and never has to worry about paying a large upfront retainer.
We are able to keep costs down through this model, making legal counsel available to everyone. Each time you meet with us, it is to get a specific task done. Many clients run up large bills by reporting everything that happens in their case to their lawyer. Lawyers begin to serve as legal counselors – but they often run into longer counseling sessions. We have been through so many cases that we also begin to understand the human emotional dynamics in cases as well. We become emotional as well as legal support. This is helpful to some but at $400 per hour, it gets very expensive. We are available to provide this support should you need it, but the big advantage of the clinic model is that you are able to decide before hand whether this is how you want to spend your money.
Many legal clinics do not have their staff represent clients in court. This allows them to help more people and utilize resources more efficiently. Although we do not go to court with you without a separate agreement and fee, we teach you about how to go to Court, what to expect when you are there, what to say when you are asked, what to ask for, what the court will find reasonable and how to conduct yourself.
We even teach seminars and/or provide materials online for you to review before you go to court so that you know how to conduct yourself.
Q. How do you differ from a full-service law firm?
You hire a full service law firm to do everything in your case for you. Having a lawyer represent you in Court can make a powerful statement to a judge about how committed you are to your case. In fact, in Family Court, having a lawyer representing you is perhaps the greatest first statement you can make to the Judge about how important your case is to you.
However, full service representation is not cheap. At $450 per hour, a relatively modest divorce can still cost between $15,000-$25,000. The lawyer usually charges 20-40% of that upfront as a retainer and will then charge his or her time against the retainer. Good lawyers will put real time into your case, bringing their expertise on strategy, writing, argumentation and discovery to strengthen your chances of success in court. This is not cheap, but it is often worth it. I have personally litigated hundreds of cases and, while I charge for my time, I never bill frivolously and still cases can run into the $15,000-$25,000 range (and higher) in billings for full service work. I try in every way that I can to reduce client costs and fees, but good legal work is time-consuming and thoughtful and requires us to think through ways of positioning you to the judge.
Mr. Egan has practiced law since 2005, and has become very quick at understanding how a judge will jump to conclusions about you and quickly develop a story to tell about you to the court. It’s not that we do not want the Court to develop an opinion of you but that we want to control the opinion the Court develops. We do that by picking a strategy from the outset and then sticking to it throughout the case, helping the judge understand who you are. We are not making up a new you but rather making sure that the judge hears about you the way you want the judge to hear about you.
Full service firms also know how to conduct discovery. We know what to ask for and how to ask for it. We know how to ask questions of witnesses to elicit important testimony and which testimony is most important for the judge to hear.
All of this costs an inordinate amount of money. In most cases it is money well-spent, but all the same, it is a lot of money that many people don’t have. Further, there are many aspects of a family law case that are routine, but done improperly will lead to your case not moving forward. These are areas of law where knowing which form to use or which box to check is enough. The lawyer still has to bill you for the time spent on your case.
What FLIC does is focus on the strategy and development of your case for you by helping you use an attorney for the most important parts of your case with set fees that allow you to control the timing and costs. Very quickly we know which forms to use, what to ask for, what your case’s vulnerabilities and weak spots are and how to move your case along. We do this on the basis of our long-standing expertise in the area. Just spending one hour with one of our lawyers is enough for them to develop a coherent strategy, know which forms to use, and to help you know what to ask for. We can do this for you inexpensively and quickly if you are willing to represent yourself in your case.
How do you differ from a document preparer?
Legal document preparers become more important in communities in which there are few lawyers and many people and in poorer communities. They serve a very important function in the community. However, increasingly they are called upon to give legal advice. Or they are giving legal advice unknowingly – it is legal advice, for example, to tell you which form to fill out or how to respond to a particular question.
I started FLIC because so many people were coming to me with documents that were improperly filled out by LDAs in the community. It was clear that the inability of the LDAs to render legal advice has also led to problems. Because so many legal areas of family law are complex, relying on someone who is unable to give legal advice can cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars before your children reach 18. In one egregious case, a LDA did not (could not) advise someone who became my client that the inheritance they had received from an employer ten years before was their separate property, meaning everything the parties had bought together belonged solely to my client. In another case, the LDA prepared legal pleadings (also a no-no) for a party to a case that admitted the most important issues of the case and left her with nothing.
LDAs are limited in the services they can provide and those limitations can cost you whether because they improperly render advice that is wrong or they are unable to render legal advice about important parts of your case.
It is very important in any case that you spend an hour or two with a lawyer who can advise you of the more complex aspects of your case.
Are you a non-profit organization?
We are not a nonprofit organization. However, we donate time and resources to several worthy causes. We follow the nonprofit legal clinic model and, although, the business seeks to make a profit, we have distanced ourselves from the very lucrative area of solely handling full service cases to provide a service to our community and to our courts.
We train younger lawyers, law students and those who aspire to attend law school; we also provide a number of free services to the community.
Do you handle domestic violence restraining order applications?
Yes. We handle them for free if a party has been referred by the Domestic Violence Shelter, Legal Aid, CRLA, Project Preemie, law enforcement, or one of the non-profit organizations in community or by a county agency. If a party was not referred by a non-profit organization or county agency then we charge our fee according to the fee schedule.
What types of services do you perform?
In short, however, we handle all family law and dependency court actions. We also handle conservatorships and guardianships.
We break down each service we provide in component parts and let you control how much you want to spend and when you want to spend it by allowing you at any time to make an appointment with the lawyer and have documents prepared.
As a lawyer, Jude Egan sees himself as a “fixer.” He takes difficult cases, complex cases, contentious cases and cases where the parties are challenging. He specializes in cases in which the mental health of one of the parties is in question and has worked with manic-depressive disorder, bipolar, OCD, and undiagnosed mental health challenges. His patience is second to none. He is a passionate advocate for his clients but is also reasonable in terms of fees. Jude believed he could help more people through the clinic model of providing services. Therefore, we provide all services at the clinic that we would provide in the law practice but, unless you engage us separately, we do not become your lawyer of record (this is the lawyer on the forms and pleadings) or go to court for you.
Why should I talk to you?
We can help for a fraction of the cost. The family law is set up so that, with direction, anyone should be able to represent him or herself. You are often your own best advocate. We can help you with the entirety of your case from preparing motions and paperwork, to conducting discovery to writing out what you should say in court. Because we are a law firm, we render legal advice and can help you best prepare your case.
When Jude takes a case to trial in his full-service firm, he expects it to cost between $8,000-$12,000, in addition to fees already paid. When you consult with us before trial, we can develop a trial strategy and put exhibit binders together for you for perhaps $1,500, including taking time with you to help you write out questions for cross-examination, knowing how to handle objections, how to get documents into evidence, and how to tell your story to the court.
When should I talk to you?
At any time in a family law matter. Our attorneys are experts in family law matters. We can help you at any stage in the process from the simplest dissolution or parentage (paternity) actions to the most difficult and complex matters, including matters that seem “unfixable” that you would ordinarily have to pay an attorney thousands of dollars to fix.
We can help if you have not yet filed, if you’ve been served papers or if you’ve been trying to figure out how to finalize a divorce that has been pending for years. We can help in child support actions, with DCSS cases, wage garnishments and enforcing judgments, including preparing QDROs to make sure you get your share of retirement benefits. We can also help with ex parte (emergency) matters, domestic violence matters, and adoptions.
We can help with anything a lawyer can help with for about the same cost as a Legal Document Assistant. And because we let you control your costs, you can decide how much you work you want done at any given time.
Can I hire you to go to Court for me?
Generally yes. So long as we have never met with your spouse or opposing party at any time previously.