Resolving Consumer & Small Business Legal Issues

Law Office Policies and Guidelines

I feel it's important for new and prospective clients alike to be apprised of clearly defined office guidelines and expectations early in their relationship with legal counsel.  In order to: (1) optimize the time we'll spend working on your case together and (2) minimize your fees and costs, please review the following:

Complementary Consultations and Legal Advice:  I am happy to provide potential clients with a one half hour initial consultation for the purpose of assessing the facts and discussing relevant legal implications.  Complementary consultations are not, however, for the purpose of dispensing free legal advice.  Absent a written and signed representation agreement in existence between us, I can only give you a brief opinion as to how I think the law will apply to your potential case, but I cannot provide legal advice to you.  Additionally, unless you are a retained client, full attorney-client privilege may not apply.    

By Appointment Only:  Consultations and client meetings are held on a 'by appointment' basis only.  Please call my office at (206) 300-2733 to schedule an appointment.     

Office Staff:  There is a central office receptionist available to receive pre-arranged dropoff of paperwork and documents from clients between the hours of 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. 

Notice to Bankruptcy Clients: Please keep in mind that flat fee based bankruptcy cases assume a rough average of the total number of hours projected to be expended on a case.  To keep these expended hours within a 'normal' range, I generally will not start drafting the bankruptcy petition until your individual pre-petition checklist of documents and activities has been completed. 

It's been my experience that most clients will want to have their bankruptcy petitions filed as soon as possible to stop creditor harrassment.  For clients that either have (1) complex pre-filing planning issues, (2) intend to file 60 days or more after retaining me or (3) cannot file until at least 60 days after representation commences, a separate hourly fee based pre-bankruptcy planning or debt defense agreement may be required.

I will try to answer as many questions as you have during your initial consultation, but once that initial consultation has been completed, I will not be able to spend significant additional time discussing bankruptcy issues as they may apply to your potential case with you unless I have been retained to prepare your case.

What you should know about your case and your lawyer:  Every case I agree to take on is important.  When you hire me, I take very seriously my responsibility to thoroughly research your case facts, assess applicable laws, develop legal strategies and present you with appropriate options and recommendations.  As the client, it's ultimately your decision as to how to proceed in the matter given your informed consent to the legal advice provided to you within the bounds of the law. 

If we are in agreement as to the means to use in pursuit of your goals, I will work diligently to achieve those goals given relevant and applicable statutes, court rules and case holdings.  Much as we wish we could, lawyers often have only limited control over the amount of time that will be needed to complete a case - often in large part because we cannot predict how much time the Court or opposing counsel's actions will require of us. 

That said, I cannot be any more diligent about getting your casework completed than you are about responding to questions and informational requests from my office.   Your involvement in the case is very highly encouraged and will often determine a significant portion of the final cost and outcome.

Communications:  I am not surprised that the number one general complaint regarding attorneys is a lack of communication from the attorney to the client.  I realize this completely and operate my practice knowing that time is truly of the essence updating and/or responding to client communications. 

When I receive information about your case, I will contact you timely and send a .pdf (Acrobat) copy of the relevant document(s) for your inspection and review.  If you have questions or need information from me, and I am not immediately available by phone or email, I will generally respond within 8 business hours or sooner if the matter is truly urgent.  

Once retained, I strongly encourage clients to check their e-mail at least once daily and respond to my inquiries and case updates within 24 hours as well.  Failure to do so may jeopardize your rights and options beyond my control.

Scope of Representation:  Because I like for my clients to know what to reasonably expect before starting legal representation, our written representation agreement will define the scope of the matter(s) for which you will be retaining my services.   If a new matter outside the scope of written representation arises during the course of our attorney-client relationship, I will require either a modified or wholly separate written agreement for any additional unrelated matters. 

For example, if our representation agreement specifies defense of a particular suit brought by one creditor, and a second creditor files a separate suit on a different account, that second suit will require either an amended or wholly separate agreement.

Basic Manners:  Some friendly tidbits based upon prior experiences for some helpful guidelines prior to calling my office.

Please do not call my office utilizing a 'blocked' phone number.  My policy is to not answer blocked telephone calls because they tend to be phone solicitors trying to sell me something I already know I don't need or want.  Even a potential client receives limited attorney-client privileges, so it's O.K. to let me know who you are.

After I answer your call, please do not start your conversation with "yeah, I..."  I really appreciate a little decorum and basic manners, so please start your initial phone conversation by saying hello and introducing yourself.  

Next, if you call my office and tell me that you're calling to ask about legal advice for for a "friend", "cousin" or "neighbor", I will not be able to speak with you.  I must speak with the party whose legal rights are involved.  If that party wants to  later share their legal issues with you, they can certainly do so.

Another thing I'd really appreciate is if you would refrain from calling my office while you are angry and upset.  I know that being served with a summons and complaint for a lawsuit can be an extremely upsetting event, and I truly do get that - but do not call and start ranting.  Take some time to understand that a civil lawsuit is about money - it's not about you personally. 

For legal "Do-it-yourself'ers": I really like to save money by doing some things myself, too.  However, know that if you've taken that good ol' "internet legal advice" to heart and started filing documents by yourself pro se in a lawsuit without really knowing what you're doing, chances are that you will eliminate some or all of your defensive options.  Calling me halfway through your lawsuit, i.e. once you're "stuck", is about as smart as having to call an ambulance because you made a 'mistake' while performing surgery on yourself.  Hint: the people that are suing you didn't learn the practice of law on the internet either.

Finally, I appreciate the fact that you've done some 'research' on the internet and want to share what you've 'learned' so that we can save some time with 'the basics'.  Please do not, however, call and tell me how much you "know" about "the law" based on internet searches.  The effective practice of law requires experience interpreting and applying statutes, case law, rules, regulations and procedures.  My experience didn't come from a few internet searches - nor did the opposing attorney's or the judge's.      

If you have any questions or concerns about any of the above information, please contact me at (206) 300-2733, or email me at  .   

Law Office of Fred Martens

Office: 14040 NE 8th St, Suite 211 Bellevue, WA 98007

Mail: P.O. Box 6416 Bellevue, WA 98008-6416

Phone: 1.206.300.2733

Fax: 1.425.732.4520


Office Hours: Monday - Friday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, by appointment

Evening and Weekend Appointments available on a limited basis.

SMS: to have contact information sent to your mobile device, text "FJMLAW' to 50500.