Schnelker, Rassi & McConnell, PLC

Standard Terms of Engagement for Legal Services

Attorneys in Grand Rapids, MI

Governing Terms.

This statement of our Standard Terms and the executed Attorney/Client Fee Agreement establish the terms for our engagement (Agreement). This Agreement will not take effect, and we will have no obligation to provide legal services, until you return a signed copy of Attorney/Client Fee Agreement and pay the initial deposit/retainer, if any, called for in the attached Attorney/Client Fee Agreement.

Scope of Our Engagement.

The scope of the engagement is described in the Attorney/Client Fee Agreement. Within the scope of engagement, we will provide those legal services reasonably required to represent you and we will take reasonable steps to keep you informed of progress and to respond to your inquires. Unless we make a different agreement in writing, this Agreement will govern all future services we may perform for you.

Legal Services Not Performed.

Counseling and litigation in tax, bankruptcy and insurance matters are specifically excluded from the scope of the engagement unless we expressly agree otherwise in writing. You should not hesitate to ask us to assist you in these areas of law, but we will require a separate fee agreement between us (or a written modification to this Agreement), in order to provide these additional services to you.

In family law matters, the following services are specifically excluded: legal representation with respect to any federal court matter, including bankruptcy; and representation in any jurisdiction outside the State of Michigan.

Advice from General Counsel.

We may have occasion to seek legal advice about our own rights and responsibilities regarding our engagement pursuant to this Agreement. We may seek such advice from attorneys in our internal Office of the General Counsel who do not work for you, or from outside attorneys at our own expense. You agree that any such communications and advice are protected by our own attorney-client privilege and neither the fact of any such communication nor its substance is subject to disclosure to you.

To the extent we are addressing our own rights and responsibilities, a conflict of interest might be deemed to exist between us, particularly if a dispute should arise between us. You hereby consent to such consultations(s) occurring and waive any claim of a conflict of interest based on such consultation(s) or resulting communications that would otherwise disqualify us from representing you or from acting in our own behalf, even if doing so might be deemed adverse to your interests.

Because a waiver of potential conflict of interest may affect your rights, you may seek the advice of an independent lawyer of your own choice before agreeing to such a waiver. By signing the Attorney/Client Fee Agreement, you represent and agree that you have had a reasonable opportunity to consult such an independent lawyer and, whether or not you have chosen to consult with such an independent lawyer, you agree to the waiver of such potential conflict of interest as specified above.

Client’s Duties.

You agree to: be truthful with us, cooperate, keep us informed of developments, abide by this Agreement, pay our bills for costs on time, and keep us advised of your current contact information. You agree to appear, if we so request, for all depositions and court appearances, and to generally cooperate fully with us in all matters related to the preparation and presentation of your claim(s). In order to preserve the attorney-client relationship, you agree to raise any issues regarding fees and costs in a timely manner so that the attorney with primary responsibility can evaluate these issues and resolve them in an expeditions and agreeable way.

No Obligations to Third Parties.

Our obligation is solely to the client(s) named in this Agreement.

Legal Fees, Billing Practices, and Basis of Fee Calculation.

You agree to pay at our prevailing hourly rates for time spent on your matter by our legal personnel. You have retained the law firm, and not any particular attorney, and the services provided to you will not necessarily be performed by any particular attorney.

Our rates are subject to change without prior notice. If you decline to pay any increased rates, we will have the right to withdraw as your attorneys.

We charge for our time in units in one-tenth (.1) hours but no single charge is ever charged less than .3 hours regardless if the actual time spent was less than .3 hours. We will charge you for the time we spend on telephone calls relating to your matter, including calls with you, opposing counsel, or other individuals. The legal personnel assigned to your matter will confer among themselves about the matter as required and, when they do confer, each person will charge for the time expended. If more than one of our legal personnel attends a meeting or other proceeding, each will charge for the time spent. It is our policy to charge for waiting time in court and elsewhere, and for travel time.

The total amount you will be charged will be based upon (a) the time devoted to your matter as discussed above, multiplied by the hourly rates of the personnel who have devoted time to your matter; and (b) other considerations permitted or required by applicable Rules of Professional Conduct.

Estimate of Fees and Costs.

We sometimes provide estimates of our anticipated fees and costs, particularly for limited phases of the work. Any such estimate is based on information known at the time and our experience in similar matters. Any such estimate is an approximation and no guarantee is intended or given. The full nature and extent of the legal services that ultimately may be necessary on a client’s matter cannot be determined in advance because much of our work depends upon the responses of other parties, public agencies, and organizations.

Costs and Other Charges.

We will incur various costs and expenses in performing legal services under this Agreement. You agree to pay for those costs and expenses in addition to the hourly fees. We may require you to provide us with a deposit for costs, separate from any other deposit required in this Agreement, and we may forward to you invoices from vendors for your direct payment. You agree to provide the deposit for costs or to pay the vendor invoices with 10 days of a request for the deposit or receipt of the invoice. We cannot accept payment of a cost deposit via credit card. The costs and expenses commonly include, but are not limited to, filing fees, process servers’ fees, fees fixed by law or assessed by courts and other agencies, court reporters’ fees, deposition transcripts, long distance telephone calls, messenger and other delivery fees, postage, parking, parking and other local travel expenses, photocopying and other reproduction costs, charges for online research services, and other similar items. You agree to pay transportation, meals, lodging, and all other costs of any necessary out-of-town travel by our personnel. All out-of-pocket costs will be charged at our cost.

Experts, Consultants, and Investigators.

To aid us in preparing your case, it may become necessary to hire expert witnesses, consultants, or investigators, which we will do with your consent and at your expense. We may require you to provide us with a deposit for the costs of such experts, appraisers, or consultants separate from any deposit referred to elsewhere in the Agreement, and we may forward to you invoices form such experts, appraisers, or consultants for your direct payment. You agree to provide the deposit, or to pay the invoices, within 10 days of a request for the deposit or receipt of the invoice.


Any required deposits/retainers will be held in a general trust account. We are required by law to place client deposits and other funds held in trust on behalf of clients in our general trust account, unless expressly instructed by you to do otherwise. By law, any interest on the general trust account is paid to the State Bar of Michigan and used to support legal service programs; neither you nor we receive the interest earned on funds held in our general trust account. If you desire that any deposit be held in a separate account from which you will receive any interest payment, (a) you must notify us in writing of that request, (b) a separate agreement will be necessary to establish such a separate trust account, and (c) interest earned will be reported to taxing authorities and you will be responsible for the payment of necessary taxes on that interest.

Billing Statements.

We will send you periodic statements for fees and costs incurred. Payment of the fees and costs will be due upon receipt. Balances unpaid after 60 days from the date of an invoice will bear interest from the date of the invoice at a rate of 7% per year. To ensure that any questions regarding our billings are raised and promptly addressed while the services rendered or costs incurred are fresh in the minds of both you and our attorneys and staff, you agree that if you do not object in writing to an invoice within 60 days of the date of the invoice, this means you agree with the entries in such invoice, accept your obligation to pay it, and waive any right to thereafter dispute or complain about such invoice.

Payment of Fees or Costs by Another Party.

A court may order, or you and a third party or parties may agree, that the third party will pay all or a portion of your fees and/or costs. Any such agreement will not affect your obligation to pay fees and costs under this Agreement, nor will we be obligated under this Agreement to enforce such a third-party agreement. Any such amounts actually received by us from a third party will be credited against the fees and costs incurred by you.


You hereby grant us a lien on any and all claims or causes of action that are the subject of our representation under this Agreement. Our lien will be for any sums owing to us for any unpaid costs or attorneys’ fees at the conclusion of our services. The lien will attach to any recovery you may obtain, whether by arbitration award, judgment, settlement, or otherwise. The effect of such a lien is that we may be able to compel payment of fees and costs from any such funds recovered on your behalf, even if we have been discharged before the end of the matter.

Because a lien may affect your property rights, you may seek the advice of an independent lawyer of your own choice before agreeing to such a lien. By signing the Attorney/Client Fee Agreement, you represent and agree that you have had a reasonable opportunity to consult such an independent lawyer, you agree that we will have a lien as specified above.


One of our goals is to assure that legal services are delivered effectively and efficiently and all billings are accurate and understandable. Please direct any questions about services or billing practices to your primary attorney.

Termination of Services.

You may discharge us at any time. We may withdraw with your consent or for good cause. Good cause includes a breach of this Agreement, your refusal to cooperate with us or to follow our advice on a material matter, or any fact or circumstance that would render our continuing representation unlawful or unethical.

When our services conclude, all unpaid charges will immediately become due and payable. After our services conclude we will, upon your prompt request, deliver your file to you along with any funds or property of your in our possession.


Documents sent to you by email (whether or not containing confidential information) generally will not be encrypted. We make reasonable attempts to exclude from our emails and attachments any virus or other defect that might affect any computer or information technology system. However, it is your responsibility to put in place measures to protect your computer or information technology system against any such virus or defect, and we do not accept any liability for any loss or damage that may arise from the receipt or use of electronic communications from us. Email encryption can and will be used as you and we deem it necessary and appropriate on a matter by matter basis.

Arbitration of Fee Disputes.

In the event of any dispute regarding fees incurred under this Agreement, we shall have the sole and exclusive option to submit the dispute to binding arbitration to be conducted by an neutral and agreed upon arbitrator in accordance and governed by the Michigan Uniform Arbitration Act (MCL 691.1681, et seq).

Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees Incurred in Collection/Fee Dispute.

You agree to pay our reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses paid or incurred in connection with the collection of delinquent attorneys’ fees, expenses, and disbursements. The time of attorneys in the firm, at their then-standard billing rates, will be recoverable to the same extent legal fees paid to a third-party firm would be recoverable.

Governing Law and Consent to Jurisdiction and Venue.

This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Michigan. You expressly consent to the jurisdiction of Michigan courts.

Effective Date.

This Agreement will take effect when you have returned a signed copy of the Attorney/Client Fee Agreement to us and paid any deposit required in the Attorney/Client Fee Agreement, but its effective date will be retroactive to the date we first performed services. The dates on the Attorney/Client Fee Agreement and the Standard Terms are for reference only. Even if this Agreement does not take effect, you will be obligated to pay us the reasonable value of any services we may have performed for you.

Disclaimer of Guaranty.

Nothing in this Agreement and nothing in our verbal statements to you will be construed as a promise or guarantee about the outcome of your matter. We make no such promises or guarantees. Our comments about the outcome of your matter are expressions of belief only.

Grand Rapids, MI Attorneys & Counselors

Our attorneys and counselors are focused on delivering the legal services required of the 21st-century business, its owners, and executives.

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