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Monday, January 20, 2014

What is the Milwaukee Justice Bus?

The Justice Bus is a mobile legal clinic that allows you to speak with a volunteer attorney for free. Information for the next clinic is below: DATES AND HOURS: Saturday January 25, 2014 10:00am-2:00pm Clinic must close promptly at 2:00pm. PLEASE ARRIVE EARLY FOR BEST CHANCE OF BEING SEEN. WE ABSOLUTELY CANNOT HELP WITH CRIMINAL MATTERS. • EVICTION? • CHILD SUPPORT? • CUSTODY AND VISITATION? • BILL COLLECTION? • FORECLOSURE? • DEATH OF A FAMILY MEMBER? LOCATION: Parklawn YMCA 4340 N 46th St. Milwaukee, WI 53216

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Q. So what do I ask the attorney during the first consultation?

A. Making the decision to retain an attorney is a very important, yet nerve-wrecking decision. Most clients are not usually happy when they have to hire a lawyer, so it is easy to be distracted with your emotions for the initial meeting. The following are suggested questions to ask an attorney during the initial office consultation: • How much will your services cost? • Do you have expertise in the same area as my issue? • Do you feel comfortable handling my case? Have you previously handled a case like mine? • How often will you update me on the status of my case? • What is the best way to reach you (telephone versus email communication)? • What is the fee arrangement (contingency, flat fee, hourly, etc.)? • What is the likelihood I will succeed with my legal matter? • How long will the process take? • What information or documents do you need from me to proceed? • What are my options to resolve my legal issue? • What happens if I lose my case? • What methods of payments do you accept (cash, credit card, check)? Communication with an attorney before you retain them is essential in order to choose a lawyer that best fits your case, personality and current financial situation.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Q. Hourly and Flat Fees, What’s the Difference?

A. Hourly and Flat rate billing are longstanding fee structures in the legal profession. Flat fee structures are typically common in practice areas such as criminal defense and family law. However, there is a growing trend for flat fee rates in estate planning, business, regulatory and employment matters. The following are key characteristics of flat fee and hourly rate structures: Hourly: • Billed per hour: An attorney will charge you per hour for their services. Typically, services will include an attorney’s time to write documents, conduct legal research, communicate with opposing counsel, communicate (email and telephone) with the client, attend hearings, trials and meetings, etc. • Frequent invoices: Each law firm is unique and may handle their client invoices differently. However, most attorneys who bill their clients hourly will send an invoice to their client each month. The invoice is due within 30 business days or less. • Retainer fee: A retainer fee is usually required when an attorney agrees to take on your case on an hourly basis. Retainer fees can range in costs depending on the attorney and the nature of your legal issue. Retainer fees are required to be paid to the attorney before she provides the client with the legal service requested. Flat Fee: • Paid upfront: Regardless of the practice area, most attorneys will request the client to pay the flat fee before the services are rendered. Contrary to a retainer fee, the flat fee will represent the total cost for the legal services provided. • No monthly invoices: A client doesn’t receive monthly invoices because the cost of the legal representation was paid upfront. • No retainer agreement required: Typically, an attorney will not charge you a retainer fee to retain them because you paid the lump sum in the beginning of the attorney client relationship. • Clients may incur costs in addition to flat fee rate: A client is still responsible for paying court filing, copy, fax, delivery and any other administrative costs associated to their case. • Flat fee for different stages of representation: Although most attorneys will charge a client a flat rate fee for the entire case, some attorneys will charge a flat fee rate for each stage of your case. An example would be if you retained an attorney for an employment matter. An attorney could charge you a flat rate for writing the complaint and a separate flat fee for representing you in court if the matter doesn’t settle out of court. It’s important for a prospective client to discuss their billing options with the attorney to determine which fee structure works best for their legal issue.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Q. How Can I Speak With A Lawyer For Free?

A. In celebration of National Law Day, the Milwaukee Bar Association (MBA) will be providing FREE legal information clinics Saturday, May 4, 2013, from 1:0 0 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. The free legal information clinics will be held at four metro Milwaukee locations: - South Side – Bay View Library 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Milwaukee, WI - Downtown – Central Library 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. Milwaukee, WI - North Side – Center Street Library 2727 W. Fond du Lac Ave. Milwaukee, WI - West Side – Atkinson Library 1960 West Atkinson Avenue Milwaukee, WI Each location’s “legal team” will be made up of members of the MBA as well as other volunteer lawyers from the Milwaukee area. The attorneys will be available to answer general legal questions, provide insight into the practice of law, and answer general questions on the judicial branch of our local, state and federal government. For situations requiring further assistance, the attorneys will be giving out appropriate resource referrals.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Q. How long should I keep a copy of my return and other tax documents?

A. A general rule is to keep your return for three years after filing. However, depending on your circumstances the IRS expects you to keep your return (and related records) for up to seven years. That said, if the IRS believes you have filed a fraudulent return, there is no limit to how many years back they may audit you. So, unless you need the space, I recommend you keep your return and supporting documentation for as long as possible. Joseph Cohen is the attorney at Cohen Counsel LLC. Cohen Counsel offers business, divorce, estate planning, real estate and other legal services to clients throughout the Metro Milwaukee area from its office at 2829 N Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53212 (just South of the intersection of MLK and Locust).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Q. Should I get help preparing my return?

A. The tax code is so complicated most tax professionals look things up from time to time. Even if your return is simple (one income source, no significant deductions, etc.) you should consult a tax professional before filing your return. Many tax preparation companies offer free preparation of simple federal returns (Form 1040EZ). However, they typically charge an additional fee to complete your state return, so be sure to shop around! That said, price should not be your only consideration. Be sure to consult with a tax professional you trust, who has experience helping clients in your situation. Atty. Joseph Cohen Cohen Counsel LLC 250 E Wisconsin Ave 18th Fl Milwaukee, WI 53202-4232 Phone: (414) 409-7129

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Q. Should I file a tax return this year?

A.Generally speaking, you should file an income tax return, even if you have low or no income. There are several reasons why: • You may qualify for tax credits based on your income, age, and other factors. • You may qualify to have money withheld from your paycheck returned to you. • Many income-based loan and grant programs require you to prove your income using your prior year tax return. • You can’t get a tax refund without a tax return! When you file a tax return, the worst that can happen is you pay the taxes you owe and stay in compliance with the law. The best case scenario is a check from Uncle Sam. Atty. Joseph Cohen Cohen Counsel LLC 250 E Wisconsin Ave 18th Fl Milwaukee, WI 53202-4232 Phone: (414) 409-7129 Email: