The Rules of Professional Conduct governing the practice of law in Pennsylvania require that attorneys confirm with the client, in writing, the services to be provided and the basis of fees to be charged. Let this section serve to fulfill that purpose.
We are offering to handle your magisterial district court case for a flat fee. We charge different fees depending on a variety of factors. The fee that we will charge you for any particular case is set forth on the solicitation letter that we mailed to you. If we do not achieve one of the defined objectives of this representation, you are entitled to a refund of 50% of the fees that you paid us.
General Explanation of the Services to Be Provided.
You are being sued on a consumer credit account in a Pennsylvania Magisterial District Court. These are Pennsylvania’s “Small Claims Courts.” The courts can handle cases where the dollar amount sought is up to $12,000, so you might want to take this case seriously.
Magisterial District Courts are presided over by Magisterial District Justices (“MDJ’s”). Although we commonly call these people judges, they are not actually judges. Although most MDJ’s are lawyers, they do not have to be.
The services we are agreeing to provide to you involve defense of the Magisterial District Court Case. Unless the other side takes legal action to compel your attendance at the hearing, you do not have to attend. You understand that we will be using local counsel, contract attorneys, and or independent contractors to carry out this defense.
Objectives of Representation
MDJ’s have a lot of wiggle room in the orders that they enter, but the case will end with the court issuing a written disposition. The following dispositions are the types of disposition that we are seeking:
Judgment for Defendant
Judgment for Plaintiff in the amount of $0
Default Judgment for Defendant
Dismissed without Prejudice
If the case ends in any of the above, it means that the MDJ is not ordering that you pay anything – it also means that we have achieved the objectives of this representation.
We don’t win every case. If we cant achieve the one of the above listed “ Objectives of Representation,” it means that the MDJ has ordered that you have to pay some amount – it also means that you will receive a refund equal to 50% of the fees that you paid us.
If the MDJ orders that you have to pay anything, even $1.00, you will get a refund equal to 50% of the fees that you paid us.
Benefits and Risks of Our Practice Methods
As noted elsewhere in these materials and in our fee agreement forms, this firm operates through contract attorneys, local counsel, and independent contractors. All of these people receive training and practice manuals from us, and these are updated to reflect changing litigation conditions and practices.
The main benefit of using independent contractors, contract attorneys, and local counsel is cost savings to you. If we had people driving all over Pennsylvania, the fees would have to go up drastically to cover gasoline and auto costs. This is a consumer protection firm. Quite frankly, most of our customers are a little low on funds. We have to keep the costs down so that people can actually afford to put on a defense.
Another benefit is “Intelligence.” We clear a lot of credit card cases at this firm and we get regular field reports from our contract attorneys. If the credit industry starts using a new tactic it will be noted by our attorneys in their field reports. This office will devise a response to any new tactic and notify all other contract attorneys of the new tactic and how to deal with it Your local attorney is probably a great lawyer and certainly has a bright mind, but he or she simply doesn’t have that type of access to this much information about the rapidly ever changing field of consumer credit litigation.
“Intelligence” with a Local Face. The contract attorneys are paid a flat fee, they can’t afford to be driving all over Pennsylvania either. This means that in all likelihood, the contractor who handles your case will be familiar with the local court, its customs, where it is and the like.
The Big Risk – Missed Hearings and District Court Procedures. If the contract attorney gets lost, or a flat tire, or otherwise can not or does not get to the hearing on time, the MDJ’s will generally refuse a last minute postponement request and enter a default judgment for Plaintiff. This is rare, but it does happen. The MDJ’s just want to move their docket along and they figure we can just take an appeal. Filing an appeal is exactly what we would do in circumstances of this sort – in a sense that is exactly why the appeal procedure exists. We would file the appeal automatically, and at no charge to you. We even pay the appeal fees out of our own pocket. The fact that you lost at MDJ level can not and will not be held against you on appeal. We can handle appeals in almost every county, If your case is in a county where we handle appeals, we will give you the option of firing us and taking a 100% refund, or, if you want, we will stay on and handle the appeal and even still honor your 50% guarantee. If you case is in a county where we can not or do not handle appeals, we will still file the appeal to protect your interests and we will issue a 100% refund.
Terms of Service.
You agree to fully cooperate with this office by returning phone calls and responding to correspondence in a timely fashion. You agree to keep us informed of your current address and telephone number. You understand that if you fail to keep in contact with us and/or fail to provide us with your current whereabouts so that we may keep in touch with you that we may stop working and ultimately the case may go into default.
Appeals and Refilings.
As a general rule, if a case is dismissed without prejudice or withdrawn by the other side, it *could* be re-filed. This is very rare and is somewhat unlikely, but it can happen. Your fees do not include defense of a re-filing..
Where the court actually issues a judgment, either party has thirty (30) days to appeal the judgment to the Court of Common Pleas. Obviously, if a judgment was entered against you, we would issue your 50% refund. We are able to handle an appeal for you in almost every county in Pennsylvania, but you would have to hire us for that. Similarly, the other side could appeal if they got an adverse ruling, and we can help with that if you hire us for that. In any event, the fees that you are paying us do not include fees to prosecute or defend an appeal.