Frequently Asked Questions
- Why hire an attorney at Harris Velázquez Gibbens?
We pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience, Efficiency”. We have decided to focus on the types of legal needs that most families and small businesses have. We don’t represent banks or insurance companies. Most lawyers that practice in our areas are either sole practitioners or practice in smaller law firms. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good lawyers. But the practice of law has become very specialized over the past ten years. It seems like courts and the legislature are constantly changing the law, and if an attorney doesn’t stay up on current changes, that lawyer will be at a disadvantage. In a small office, the lawyer is the office manager, the marketing person, and sometimes even the paralegal. At Harris Velázquez Gibbens the senior partner spends much of his time managing the practice, mentoring and advising the other attorneys and making sure all the attorneys education and staffing needs are met. The attorneys focus their practice on one or two areas of law, where they can spend more time gaining the expertise necessary to deliver excellent legal services. Importantly, our attorneys work in teams. We hold regular team meetings of specific practices – family law, criminal law, injury law – where the attorneys discuss their cases, new developments, and even issues like how a particular attorney on the opposite side of a case should be approached. Our team approach is unique, simply because there are few law firms like ours in the Portland area with enough staff and attorneys to be able to allocate and organize the work like we do. We are different and unique in delivering excellent experienced legal services efficiently.
- I’ve never needed an attorney before. How do I hire a lawyer?
We’ve tried to make it as easy a possible to not only retain one of our lawyers, but to find out if you even want to retain us. In many cases, you won’t have to make a personal appointment to come into one of our offices. If you call during regular hours, we’ll either try to transfer your call to one of our attorneys, or take your name and number and have someone call you back. At no charge. We don’t want to waste our time, or yours, if we don’t think we can help you. If you decide you need more than a brief phone call to review your case, or if you decide you need our help. We can then set up an appointment.
- Do I have to travel to your office to hire you?
No, we do have two offices that we may be able to set up a face to face consultation. But if your work schedule doesn’t allow that much time off, we can email you a retainer agreement and you can pay online or by phone using a credit card.
- Do you offer free consultations?
We offer free consultation for personal injury cases. Those consultations can be in person or by phone. We also offer a free 15 minute “legal evaluation” to anyone for other types of cases. DUII, Divorce, Employment, Real Estate, Business, Estate Planning are the most common types of cases where people request the legal evaluation. A legal evaluation isn’t a full consultation. It’s purpose is to let the lawyer figure out what type of case you have, and whether we can assist you. And, you can determine if the attorney is a good fit for your case. All at no obligation. It’s unfair to you, and a waste of time for us, to require you to take time off, pay a consultation fee, then come into our office and then have us determine we can’t help you, or have you determine that you don’t mesh well with the attorney.
- How much does a lawyer cost?
It depends on the case. For personal injury cases we charge a percentage of the amount recovered. So if we don’t recover, you don’t owe us any attorney fees. If we do recover, we just take our fees out of the recovery. On criminal cases and some estate planning matters, we will accept a flat fee. So you know what you will be paying up front. The fees vary depending on the case type, so you can call for a free 15 minute legal evaluation and ask for a quote. For most other cases, we charge an hourly rate. The rate depends on the type of case and the expertise and experience of the attorney. Because we do have many attorneys with varied experience, and paralegals who charge a lesser rate, we may be able to assign some work to staff that charges at a rate lower than a senior attorney.
- Can I make payment arrangements.
In most “flat fee” cases, the flat fee will be due at the time you retain us. We do accept credit cards however. In hourly rate cases, we will usually ask for a retainer. The amount of retainer requested depends on the case type. Generally an attorney can quote you a retainer amount during your consultation or evaluation.
- Do I really need an attorney?
No, not if you do everything right. I don’t need an electrician to change a light bulb. But I do need an electrician to run a new wire in my home, because the risk of burning down my home is too great a risk just to save a few hundred dollars. I hire an electrician and my family and home are safe.
- What’s the best way to get started?
If you have a real legal need, and want to retain a lawyer, call during regular business hours. Emails are fine, but they are limited in the type of information you can give. However, please respect our time. We make ourselves available because we want to talk to potential clients who have a real need for our services and an ability to retain our firm. If you have a legal need, but have limited funds available, there are legal resources available to you. I’ve listed some below.
- How do I select an attorney?
There are a lot of attorney websites and ranking systems out there. Some are valuable, some not so valuable. Harris Velázquez Gibbens has been serving clients since 1989. It has grown from two attorneys in one small office to ten attorneys and three of counsel attorneys in two offices. We have attorneys who are rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell, the most prestigious and oldest attorney rating organization in the US. Only a small percentage of attorneys achieve an AV rating. The rating is done by attorneys and judges who have experience and knowledge about the attorney. Not by anonymous clients or former clients, or even by adverse parties who may have submitted a negative review online in order to damage an attorneys reputation. We are very proud of our AV rating. But the most important rating is the one you give your attorney. That’s why we allow you to call and speak with an attorney before you pay them a consultation fee.