Cowherd PLC requests that anyone interested in services complete the potential client intake questionnaire form accessible on this website. The information submitted in this form allows Cowherd PLC to evaluate any potential conflicts of interest and to confirm whether the subject matter and geographic venue of the case are within the firm’s practice. Potential clients are asked to provide enough information in the form to allow Cowherd PLC to understand what the case is about, without sharing sensitive information just yet. If for whatever reason, the potential client prefers not to use of the intake questionnaire, they may contact the firm by telephone.
The next step is for John Cowherd and the potential client to confer about the case. This can be conducted in a 5 to 15 minute telephone or video conference. In the initial consultation, John Cowherd is ordinarily unable to provide the kind of advice that can be relied upon to make important decisions. Property and contract disputes require careful review of contract documents, human motivations, recorded land records, and other written materials, that cannot be completed during the initial consultation.
Following initial communications, if services are offered, the potential client will be provided an Agreement for Legal Services to review and sign. Following this, the client makes the initial retainer deposit by check or credit card, and to provide the law firm with the written materials and documentation pertaining to the case.
John Cowherd works for clients on hourly billing. Clients are required to make an advance deposit in an amount appropriate considering the needs of the case. Cowherd PLC does not do contingency fee or flat fee engagements. If any fee advance deposits are not earned, then the unearned portion is returned to you whenever the engagement ends.
After the retainer agreement is made and the deposit is paid, the client next submits the documents and files necessary for the attorney to review and understand the case. Initially the law firm will be focused on determining if there are any imminent deadlines imposed on the case by statutes of limitation, warranty expirations, or the rules of court that require immediate action to protect the client’s rights. For example, if something must be filed with the court by a certain date, then that is the immediate focus. Beyond that, the focus is on whatever research, investigation or review is reasonably necessary to provide the client with a preliminary case evaluation. This may include obtaining a title report, land survey plat, engineering report, construction defects report, researching case law or statutes, reviewing a file provided by the client or available through an information request, and so on. The purpose of this is to sufficiently inform the lawyer and client so decisions may be made regarding next steps.
Does Cowherd PLC accept cases where owners of different lots in the subdivision or unit in the condominium retain the lawyer for matters of common concern?
Cowherd PLC does accept joint representations. However, after the initial consultation, each client interested in retaining the firm will need to have a separate retainer agreement and also sign a joint representation disclosure so that the firm can represent the owners of property regarding the matter of common concern. While there are benefits to joint representation, each client will have an attorney-client relationship with the firm. Cowherd PLC does not provide free consultations to groups of clients desiring joint representation.
Yes, the focus of the initial case evaluation, and the re-evaluation of the case as the matter progresses is to resolve the dispute as smoothly and timely as can be reasonably obtained under the facts and circumstances of the case. There are numerous ways that matters can potentially be resolved without taking the case to trial and an appeal. Before clients typically come to an attorney they usually make substantial efforts to resolve the dispute with their opponent through demands or informal negotiation which for whatever reason are not sufficient to resolve the matters. Cowherd PLC tries to avoid conducting a client engagement as a series of experimental efforts at making demands or proposals just to see what happens. The purpose of thorough case evaluation is to identify potential solutions that perhaps the client is not able to identify or develop because of the lack of professional assistance. In most cases, the initial case evaluation will be followed by correspondence to the opposing party in an attempt to resolve the matter. Beyond that, the client may consider contacting a state or local government agency that may have enforcement authority in a certain area, proposing that the case be mediated with a retired judge, filing an application or opposition with a committee or board of the community association, considering arbitration or some other litigation alternative. If litigation becomes necessary, the approach of Cowherd PLC is achieve the client’s objectives, settling the case before trial if that is possible. In matters involving community associations or neighbors where there is a “relationship” of sorts that would continue so long as the parties all own property in the development, its important to try to settle things when one can. If litigation becomes necessary, the lawyer’s experience bringing and trying cases is brought to bear. If the case needs to go to trial, the focus is on winning. In most litigation matters, the lawyer and client must look at the case from the beginning as though it may go to trial, while simultaneously considering faster alternatives to resolving the problem.
Virginia and the District of Columbia both follow what is called the “American Rule,” by which the parties to litigation bear the costs of their own attorneys, unless there is a statute, contract provision or other special legal exception allowing for the legal expenses to be borne by one side or the other. In cases brought under the Property Owners Association Act, Condominium Act, and many other statutes, the law allows for an award of reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party. Upon being retained, Cowherd PLC will review the case to determine whether or not a prevailing party attorneys fees statute or contract provision would apply should the case be litigated.
Sometimes visitors to the website are not ready to explore retaining Cowherd PLC as their attorney, but would like to be kept up to date about new blog posts and firm news. Such persons are welcome to submit a potential client questionnaire with just their contact information and indicate that they are just looking to be added to lists of persons interested in being added to the email list.
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