Thursday, November 19, 2015

2016 rates

My rates for 2016 will remain (unless something changes) at my rate for mediation will remain what it's been for the past several years:

$300 per side for 4 hours - 2 people then $600, 3 people then $900, 4 people then $1,200. This is non-negotiable. The more parties -- the more work.

If we go longer than 4 hours then it's $75 per person per hour.
The parties control the process.  At the end of 3-1/2 hours if people want to end then I can declare an impasse. If they want to continue, then I expect to be paid for my work.

No personal checks accepted.

I accept cash, debt or credit card or attorney check.

No billing - payment is due at the time the service is performed.

I expect a $150 per side non-refundable deposit per party paid at least 3 hours before the actual mediation.

Due to the no shows for pro se (no attorneys) mediations, I have been forced to require a non-refundable deposit of $300 BEFORE I will even schedule the mediation on my calendar.  (Sorry but I've been abused my no shows and I want to know that you are committed to the process.)

I do offer discounts, totally at my discretion.

Example, if a person is disabled military on limited income, on disability with no assets then I have been known to discount my rate.  No freebies. I find that people need some "skin" in the game.  During the mediation is I determine the person has financial resources then I reserve the right to eliminate my discount or terminate the mediation due to misrepresentation.

I do lots of pro bono through the Dispute Resolution Center, Lone Star Legal, Houston Volunteer Lawyers and South Texas College of Law -- I don't do involuntarily pro bono (free) work.  So don't ask.

Based on my level of experience and training my rates are way below market price. I know it.  My husband says that I'm worth much more.  So do not attempt to negotiate with me. I know the market, I know my competition and I'm really good at what I do.  If you want to negotiate or get a freebie, look elsewhere.

I have shown a commitment to keeping my prices affordable to everyone.

Contacted again to be on a pilot t.v. show

Approximately 4 hours years a production company (that actually has shows on cable t.v.) contacted me about being their "mediator" on a new tv show.  Unfortunately, they wanted a "Judge Judy" type.  I tried to explain to the gentleman that mediation is not yelling at people - it's helping people resolve their issues in creative and non-aggressive ways.
Mediation is no 5 minutes and done -- it's a slow process that often takes time and patience to fully develop. I actually made it through 3 rounds with the "producers" but they lost interest in me.  So far no "mediator" tv show has made it to my cable provider so I suspect that what the producers wanted and what competent mediators could actually produce were in conflict.

Today I received a call from another company that does similar shows. (I have actually watched several of their productions on my local Comcast cable tv). They want to do a show about teenagers and emanipation.  I told them that obviously they don't understand the Texas Family Code since emancipation of minors is extremely limited and very difficult.

I talked to a very nice gentleman for over 15 minutes and I have agreed orally to proceed with "discussions".  Since it's a national show I would not appear as an attorney and give legal advice. I would give "common sense" advice to families with teen-agers.  I suspect these families would be in "crisis".  We are going to "skype" soon -- he promised me that he could help me "skype" since the last time I tried "skype" it did not work.  I prefer Facetime.

After being a lawyer almost 25 years - 5 of which were at Houston Volunteer Lawyers where I handled anything that walked in the door - I feel, at my age and on my third marriage, being a parent and, briefly, a step-parent,  that I can easily give people advice! As I always say on my free phone consults -- my opinion is worth what you pay me.

Of course, if they don't like me I highly recommended Attorney Rose Cardenas.  She is often interviewed for Spanish speaking tv (not just in Houston) and she is the "queen of sound bites".  I've watched a couple of her interviews and she "nails" it every time.

Maybe Rose and I should be the dynamic duo!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2015 Top Houston Family Law Attorneys by Houstonia Magazine

Here is the list of attorneys listed by Houstonia Magazine as a "top family law attorney" in Houston:

Benee Bellue

Paul Calzada

Lennea Cannon

Shannon Cavers

Thomas Conner

Laura Dale

Holly Davis

Cynthia Diggs

Judy Dougherty

Thea Fabio

James Gilbreath

Shari Goldberry

Daniel Gray

Liza Greene

Erin Groce

Hal Hale

Debra Herndon

Michael Hiller

Reginald Hirsch

Joseph Indelicato

Denise Khoury

Lacy LaFour

Diana Larson

Erik Larson

Allecia Lindsey-Pottinger

Luis Midence

William Moore

Susan Myres

Stephanie Proffitt

Mary Quinn

Mary Ramos

Judy Ritts

Leonard Roth

Donald Royall

Barbara Lynn Schnack - no longer takes private cases - works for Harris County DRO

Lindsey Short

Matthew Skillern

Christopher & Spofford

Angela Stout

Harry Tindall

Norma Trusch

Hilary Unger

K Nicole Voyles

Laurden Waddell

Brian Walters

Sam "Trey" Yates

Most I know & many of them I've mediated with -- a few I do not personally know. 

When hiring an attorney you need to be aware that the Harris County Family Lawyers group is a tight-knit "family".  We might be on opposite sides, but if someone has a problem or issue, the other family law attorneys will always work together to handle the matter in a professional and ethical manner. In Texas, attorneys are held to a professional code of conduct and all judges expect us to follow it.  

If you need a family law attorney, check on, look on the State Bar of Texas website to see if your attorney has any discipline issues with the State Bar and visit their websites.  Also, check with friends and family on who they used and liked.  

Be aware that Texas law is changed by the Texas legislature every 2 years and what happened in your friend's case 10 years ago might not happen today.  So hire someone that goes to court often, knows all the judges and their personalities and is reasonably priced.  Family law is expensive and can run into thousands of dollars.

What no one tells you is that over 90% of all cases settle at or before mediation since most people cannot afford to go to trial.  If you want a trial anticipate $15,000 minimum and more if you want a jury trial.  Plus, judges dislike jury trials because they back up their docket so they will put you off until their calendar is clear - could be over a year to get a first trial date with a jury trial.  

Many judges now require mediation prior to even setting temporary orders and definitely before trial.  I often mediate a case 2-3 times before a trial setting.  I don't settle them all but I save folks a ton of money and a lot of time.  Always consider mediation before litigation.  

How much does a case cost? At $350 

2015 Houston Magazine lists top Houston mediators

Here is the list of mediators listed as "Top Houston Mediators" by Houstonia Magazine:

Jeffry Abrams

Ron Bankston

W. Robins Brice

Fran Brochstein - me!!

Sherri Cothrun

Tammy Manning

Michael Wilk

That's 7 out of the hundreds of mediators that live in Houston!

Plus, I did not pay any money for this endorsement.

I am proud to be included on this short list of mediators that I know & respect.

Thanks Houstonia Magazine - my 3rd year in a row being listed on their attorney lists!