1. Do you offer free consultations?
Unfortunately, we are unable to offer free consultations. As Abraham Lincoln once observed, "a lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade." Providing legal advice is how we make a living. As much as we enjoy helping people, if we agreed to offer free advice to every person who called our office requesting it, we would have no time left to service our paying clients. We charge $350.00 for consultations lasting up to an hour. We understand it can be frustrating to have to pay for legal advice before you know if you have a "valid case," but sometimes the best advice you can receive is to not file an expensive lawsuit when the facts and the law will not support a favorable outcome. That $350 consultation fee may end up saving you thousands of dollars in unwarranted litigation costs and just as many hours of your life. Some law firms do offer free consultations, but usually that is simply a sales tactic to get you in the door. Most lawyers charge for their services.
2. What does it cost to hire a lawyer?
This question cannot be fully answered without the benefit of knowing the facts of the case and the goals of the representation. Legal fees vary greatly from case to case. Some cases can be resolved out of court for under $10,000, whereas others will get bogged down in trials and appeals and wind up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Before you hire a lawyer, ask yourself whether it makes good financial sense to do so. Most of our work is billed at rates ranging from $300-400 an hour. If you're upset with a contractor because you paid him $1000 and he did shoddy work, hiring a lawyer to take the contractor to court is not going to help your bottom line because you will inevitably pay the lawyer more than you will recover from the contractor, even if you win the case and receive a full refund. We generally do not recommend you hire us unless we are confident (as we often are) that we can help you recover far more in monetary damages than it will cost you in legal fees to obtain that result.
3. I'm looking for the best lawyer in Virginia. Have I come to the right place?
It's only natural to want to hire the best trial lawyer in the state when you're faced with the prospect of having to initiate or defend against litigation in a Virginia courtroom. In reality, however, the concept of having the "best attorney" is illusory, as no two legal problems are exactly the same; each individual case will involve a different set of facts, documents, witnesses, and other variables. In other words, just because one of our lawyers may have obtained a huge damages award or a significant defense verdict in a particular case does not necessarily mean that lawyer will be able to achieve a similar result in your case. No Virginia attorney can lay claim to being the "best" -- many have won large verdicts and achieved fantastic results for their clients. Therefore, instead of searching for the best attorney in Virginia, focus instead on finding a lawyer who is the right "fit" for your case and with whom you are comfortable working. Click on "Contact Us" to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled advocates.
4. I have a whole bunch of legal problems. Can your attorneys help me with all of them?
That depends. Our primary focus is on business litigation, defamation of character (libel and slander), employment matters, and contract disputes. If your legal issue falls into one of these categories, or any of the other categories listed among our practice areas, give us a call. You will need to look elsewhere, however, if your issue involves family law (divorce, child custody, etc.), traffic citations (e.g., DUI or speeding), injuries sustained in a car crash, or criminal charges. No lawyer practices in every area of the law. You should seek legal assistance from one who has specific expertise in the area in which you need help. If you're not sure what kind of lawyer you need, here is a list of the most common types.
5. Someone defamed my character online, but I don't know who it is. Can I do anything about it?
Yes, you can. If somebody is intent on spreading false rumors about you online to damage your reputation, hurt your business, or embarrass you, chances are they're not going to identify themselves using their real name. Because most websites allow users to use fake names or pseudonyms, it will be the unusual case where a bad actor readily provides his real name when committing an intentional online tort. Cloaked with apparent anonymity, many Internet users believe they can say whatever they wish on the Internet with absolute impunity. What these people don't realize is that the First Amendment does not protect defamatory statements (i.e., those amounting to actionable libel). In Virginia, it is often possible to uncover the identity of an anonymous speaker. If you can persuade the court that the person's statements are defamatory or otherwise tortious, you will usually be granted permission to issue subpoenas to any company likely to have information that may reveal that person's identity (such as a name, physical address, or I.P. address). In most cases, a good Internet lawyer will be successful in tracking down the individual who posted the defamatory remarks and will be able to help you obtain appropriate remedies.
6. Someone posted a fake review about my business on Yelp and Yelp is refusing to take it down. Can I sue Yelp?
In most cases, no. A federal law known as "Section 230" (found in the Communications Decency Act of 1996) immunizes providers of interactive computer services and their users from causes of action asserted by persons alleging harm caused by content provided by a third party. Section 230 was enacted to ensure that computer service providers like Yelp that rely on content provided by others are not treated like regular publishers of content. This is because sites like Yelp usually do not perform traditional editorial functions like fact-checking and deciding what to publish; they are merely a forum for others to express themselves as they deem fit. If someone posted a false review on Yelp that is not a constitutionally protected expression, your remedy is to discover the identity of the person who posted the false information (see above) and to pursue that person instead.
7. My boss is a jerk. Can I sue him for harassment?
A common misconception is that the law prohibits all forms of harassment at work. It doesn't. There is no law in Virginia that requires people to be nice. For example, suppose your boss calls you an "idiot" in front of your co-workers. This might be embarrassing, and it probably means your boss is a jerk, but without more, those facts standing alone are unlikely to support a legal action against your boss or your employer. To learn more about the forms of harassment in employment that are against the law, see this blog post.
8. I need to get out of a contract. Can you help me?
Maybe. Sometimes, language in the contract itself will provide ways of getting out when certain conditions are met. More often, whether you can avoid contractual obligations willingly and knowingly undertaken will depend on whether there are grounds to assert an affirmative defense to enforcement of the contract, such as lack of consideration, lack of capacity to contract, duress, unconscionability, or fraudulent inducement. Or maybe a condition precedent has not been satisfied. In other situations, you simply cannot get out of the contract. If you want to get out of a contract, your best bet is to schedule a formal consultation with an attorney. Bring a copy of the contract to the consultation, and be prepared to discuss all the relevant background facts. The attorney will need this information to be in a position to analyze the situation correctly and offer the most reliable advice possible.