Lay readers tempted to call me or email me to obtain advice will receive no advice until and unless they enter an attorney client relationship with me and pay for a minimum 2 hours of my time (in advance) at a rate of $700 per hour. Quite frankly, until I establish a formal attorney-client relationship, I don't like dealing with clients by email or short telephone call because they are poor media for most effective communication of all the relevant facts and limitations on any legal advice that the lay person may imagine they received. So, please, please do not email or call me looking for free legal advice. It will not be forthcoming; indeed, I generally will not even read the email when it is clear that it comes from someone seeking free legal advice, and my assistant is directed to turn away calls of this nature. I may respond to the email, but solely to direct the person to this page.
Engagement for Strategic Consultation Regarding Offshore Account and Related Matters:
Most readers of this blog interested in engaging me are interested in strategic advice regarding offshore account and related matters. This would be a limited engagement. For these readers, the following are the steps that must be followed:
1. Contact my assistant, Theresa Mickiwicz, to obtain the engagement documents. You can contact her either by telephone (713-521-9977) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). She will send you a draft of the engagement documents (engagement letter and policies statement) and a spreadsheet that you should fill out. It is critical that you read both and be prepared to sign the engagement documents and complete the spreadsheet.
2. Email me (email@example.com) and my assistant (firstname.lastname@example.org) and state in the first paragraph of the email that you have read the draft engagement documents, they are acceptable, and, specifically state that you are willing to pay my minimum engagement fee of $1,400 for two hours of my time on your matter at my billing rate of $700. Also, provide your name and address so that I can complete the engagement documents. Please note specifically the scope of the engagement in paragraph 1 of the engagement letter will be substantially as in the following template language (although likely tailored to meet the facts and needs of the particular engagement):
1. Scope of Service. You have engaged me to represent you regarding certain tax matters. The representation has a limited scope as follows: You have engaged me for two hours of consultation (including time spent reviewing documents in preparation for consultation) with you regarding U.S. tax compliance issues arising from your ownership of, financial interest in and/or signatory or related authority over non-U.S. assets, principally one or more foreign financial accounts. In advance of the telephone consultation, you will provide me a fair summary of the core facts related to that consultation in (i) a spreadsheet in a format that I shall provide and (ii) as appropriate, further narrative in word processing format. I will review your submissions to me in such depth as I deem appropriate. The time required for that review will be charged against the two hours. You and I will then engage in a telephone conversation and such further communications as appropriate until the 2 hours are fully used. After that, if there are to be any further communications, whether written or oral, we will have to separately agree upon the scope of the scope of the further work and the compensation therefore; however, unless otherwise specifically agreed any further work will be subject to this engagement agreement and the accompanying policies statement. Given the nature of this limited scope engagement, it is unlikely that I will be able to render any specific advice but rather just point out general matters that you should consider. If you feel that we have rendered any specific advice that you intend to rely upon, it is an express condition of this engagement that you will request and receive such advice in writing (for which we will be compensated for the further due diligence required to render such specific advice, as required by the standards of the legal profession generally and the IRS professional standards specifically. If there are special or exceptional circumstances not otherwise reasonably within the scope of service set forth in this paragraph, then the scope of our service will be subject to further agreement. You and we expressly acknowledge that, in view of the nature of the engagement, there is and can be no guarantees as to the outcome.3. Upon receipt of your email required in step 2 above, my assistant will then email, by return email, the wire transfer instructions, along with a final copy of the engagement documents. Upon receipt of the engagement documents, if possible, please execute the signature pages in each document, scan the signature page and return the scanned files with the signatures to my assistant or to me. Upon receipt of the scanned files with your signatures, my assistant will arrange for me to sign, scan the signed pages (then having both your and my signatures) and return a scanned copy to you for your files.
4. Upon notice from the bank that the wire transfer has cleared, I or my assistant will contact you to set up a date for the initial meeting or telephone conference. Please note that an actual meeting is preferable to a telephone conference because meetings permit better communications. Perhaps second best would be a Skype conference call rather than just a voice conference call.
5. At least 12 hours before the meeting or telephone conference, you should return to my assistant the completed spreadsheet and a word processing file with any narrative statement that you feel can make our meeting or telephone conference time more efficient. Keep in mind that I do charge my time spent reviewing the spreadsheet and the narrative statement toward the 2 hours minimum. So be succinct in the narrative statement.
6. We will then have the meeting or telephone conference. Depending upon the time used in the meeting or telephone conference, there may be follow-throughs or such further engagement as you and I agree upon.
I hope readers understand that, without this limitation, I would have virtually no revenue because of the quantity of emails and telephone calls I receive from people wanting free legal advice. I do empathize with you, but simply cannot turn my attention from my clients to these matters with people whom I have not been engaged to represent. That is not fair to me or to my other clients who also deserve my time and attention.