Monday, January 18, 2016

Modest Means Models and Your Collaborative Practice

By Jeremy Gluckman

        Have you ever considered developing “Modest Means” collaboration models to grow your practice? These models make the collaborative process more accessible to your divorce clients and will increase your collaborative practice. If you are not offering these reduced-cost services, here are four Modest Means Models you may want to consider:

        The Pro Se Collaboration Model provides flat fees that are affordable. A full team in this model has a meeting with the clients to prepare a pro se case. The team meets with the divorcing parties at a single meeting for three to five hours. At the meeting, the team will provide and develop necessary pleadings, parenting plans, and marital settlement agreements for pro se filing. Parties are encouraged to prepare for the meeting by reviewing the necessary documents online before the meeting. The entire team then works through any issues the parties have and helps them complete the relevant pleadings and documents for a pro se filing.

       The Combined Income Model, like the Pro Se Collaboration Model, provides affordable flat fees, but those fees are set for you and other members of the team based upon the combined incomes of the parties. Several income ranges may be identified with different flat fee amounts. For example, if the parties had a combined annual income of $80,000, then they could be offered a flat fee option of $2,000 per attorney and $1,500 for each of the neutrals. Once the appropriate fees are determined, the team spends whatever time is required to complete the case.

        The Combined Limited Time and Income Model is a third flat-fee model. For parties below a specified combined family income level (e.g. $100,000 per year) and net worth (e.g. $125,000), flat fees are set for each of the four members of the collaborative team, with a condition that the collaborative dissolution must be completed by a specific date. You can limit the number of collaborative meetings over the time period, but there are no limitations on the time each collaborative professional will spend to complete the case. If the case is not resolved by the specified date, the team withdraws, or through agreements between team members and the parties, you may add a specific number of additional work hours or a new completion date. The team may also consider hourly rates if the case is worked for an added time period and the team is willing to add those hours.

        The Reduced Fee Rate Model, unlike the other three models, does not involve a flat fee. Instead, hourly rates will be set for all members of the collaborative team, but the hourly rates will be reduced. Several reduced hourly rates can be established based upon varied ranges of income.

         Not all clients have unlimited funds to proceed in a collaborative divorce. So we hope this gives you more options in growing your practice and effectively serving the needs of a broader range of clients.