$1000 for a good attorney????
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with parents and surrogates alike.
I am working with an agency that allots a fixed amount of $1000 for me to find an attorney, have the attorney review my contract, negotiate and make changes, etc. etc. etc.
I work with attorneys and I have no confidence that as a gestational surrogate $1000 will protect my body, my finances, and my journey. I have five children, a boyfriend of four plus years with a job, I work full time... there will need to be a lot of specifics in my contract to support confidence in both me and my partner that all parties will be well protected in this journey.
I know that the function of the agency is serving the parents and I have had a very positive experience with this agency thus far. However I feel like they are putting me in a position to be legally vulnerable and not well protected. Why would they do this? $1000 for a contract just isn't enough in good lawyer land and I am not willing to throw our security to someone who won't look at each page, each line, each consideration before supporting my signature.
I inquired about it and received my first very swiftly shut door with the company which concerns me. Why all of a sudden such a closed door? Why only $1000?
Is this common? How can I approach this?
Hello and thank you for the kind words. You ask a very timely question. I just came from a conference in Indianapolis of attorneys from all over the country who practice Reproduction Law. One of them raised this very question, and suggested that there should not be a cap on fees for the very reason you just raised. Others argued that intended parents need to know what their budget will be.
In my experience, $1,000 is typical in most parts of the country. Some attorneys do charge more if a contract turns out to be particularly complex. In my experience, that is the exception. I can also tell you what I do, however: I do not "stop" work if I am getting close to what would be the $1,000 marker. I do not cut corners. Indeed, I do not even keep track of my hours. I just do the very best job that I can representing each and every client to the best of my ability. If in some cases that means that I end up working for free or at $1.00/hour, so be it. My obligation is to my client.
In the end, it all averages out.
So, if you live in an area of the country where $1,000 is standard, then the most important thing is to find out how the attorney works... Does s/he keep track of her hours and stop when she reaches a certain number? If so, that would be a dangerous situation for you. You want an attorney who says she will do whatever it takes.
Personally, I would be more concerned with what happens after the contract is executed and you have a question or issue. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine just issued gestational carrier guidelines that recommend that every GS have "continuing counsel." Yet, if you only have access to paid counsel during the execution, is that continuing counsel? I don't see how it can be, unless the attorney provides free counsel (as I have done).
I hope this helps,
Diane Hinson, Esq.
Creative Family Connections LLC
2 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 700
Chevy Chase, MD 20815