Desperately seeking Erin Brokovich - need sliding scale family law attorney in San Francisco Bay Area (Peninsula / South Bay)
August 27, 2008 10:43 PM   Subscribe

Desperately seeking Erin Brokovich - need sliding scale family law attorney in San Francisco Bay Area (Peninsula / South Bay)


A friend of mine just got served by her ex-husband who is seeking to change child custody arrangements.

When he filed for divorce 4 years ago she did not know better and signed without a lawyer. He currently pays $800/mo in spousal support and child support for her and two children - a tween and a teen.

She works full time at $13/hr and is still working her way out of medical debt. He works full time at $16/hr for the family business but it's more like $35 if you factor in free rent and food. This is not a complicated case - there are minimal assets involved.

So far, all the lawyers she's contacted want a $5000 retainer and $350/hr. Not practical both because the amount in contention is so low ($5k/yr maybe) and because she's barely making ends meet.

She has a decent chance of getting attorney's fees awarded. She's contacted the Bar Association and will apply for the limited income program.

Is a full-priced attorney that much better than someone on sliding scale or from legal aid?

What should be a reasonable fee (or time allotment) for a lawyer to
1) negotiate a settlement with the other party
2) arrange for mediation
3) file a motion for attorney's fees?
If we do all our homework, to the point of having motions written up for the attorney to review, would any or all this be achievable on $1000 (2.5hrs)?

What does $350/hr realistically break down to? Is there a generally agreed upon schedule of how long it takes for common tasks - letters written, motions drafted, court appeances made?

I've been helping her fill out forms and get things organized. How else can I help her get the most bang for her legal buck?

What's the profile of the type of lawyer she needs? Should she be looking for a recent grad looking to prove herself? A bleeding-heart liberal out to save the world? A flint-eyed veteran who can juggle dozens of cases a day? How do we get somebody on her side who doesn't turn up their nose at anything less than $5000 up front and $350/hr?

thanks in advance!
posted by ebellicosa to Law & Government (1 answer total)

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