Attorneys:  Hiring A Lawyer 101

Thank you for your interest in my attorney services.  I know that choosing and hiring a lawyer may be a little mysterious and frightening for you.  I will try to de-mystify the process a little.

 The Very First Thing.  I always suggest that potential clients check out the lawyers they are considering.  Please review my background and qualifications.  My professional summary is like a resume, and it is posted on this site (see "About Mr. Champlin").   In addition, you can research lawyers (including me) at the State Bar of Texas ( and on lawyer listing sites like Martindale-Hubbell ( or

 Our Initial Consultation Meetings.  The next step is to share your problem or transaction with an attorney.  We may discuss it briefly by telephone, but generally I will want to meet you and discuss your matter in some detail.  These consultation meetings are important.  We certainly want to meet in person if possible so that each of us can decide if we're compatible.  Moreover,  I need you to give me a full picture of the facts, the parties, and what you want to accomplish.  Only then can I decide whether I can help you and offer you terms of my representation.

Ordinarily, I do not charge for consultations unless you decide to hire me, and then I may add an agreed-upon consultation fee to my regular fees.  However, I may request your agreement to a separate and higher consultation fee if your case requires protracted investigation and consultation before the facts and a plan of action can be developed and before we decide whether I will represent you further in the matter.

 Our Attorney-Client Agreements.  You should always ask a lawyer you are consulting to clearly state the legal services to be rendered, who will do what, the fees to be paid and the terms of payment.  My role as your attorney does not begin, of course, until we agree on such things.

I suggest written attorney-client agreements, even with existing clients and friends, because I firmly believe that anyone entering a relationship with an attorney should have an up front, business-like understanding of the attorney’s services, fees and payment terms.  An up-front written understanding benefits you as well as me and can avoid misunderstandings at the outset.

Therefore, even on a handshake, I usually will give you an Engagement Letter or other writing that confirms our discussion and agreement on my specific services, fees and payment terms with regard to your specific case or matter. 

In all events, I will give you my Standard Terms of Engagement and a copy of The Texas Lawyer’s Creed.  They contain the basic general conditions of my employment as your attorney.  They also contain information I am required to give you and other information I think important for you to know.  I will explain them to you, will answer your questions and will ask your agreement to them.

 A Word About My Attorney's Fees.  Attorney's fees are not set in a vacuum.  In determining the amount to be charged for legal services, I consider: 

 Among these factors, I typically weight the value of my services to the client and the time and effort, the novelty and complexity, and the skill required most heavily.  Unless we agree to a fixed fee (below), or unless we agree upon a particular hourly rate for your matter stated in an Engagement Letter or other agreement or written confirmation of my representation, I will set my fee according to all relevant factors stated above with regard to your engagement or matter.  

A fixed or “flat” legal fee, or a “not to exceed” fee, for all or part of a particular matter is often desirable to clients.  I am pleased to quote these fees where the number and types of documents and transactions are well defined and the negotiations and interactions of the parties involved are not likely to be difficult or protracted.  Please understand, however, that very few legal problems are "standard form" or "well-defined."   They often require a special arrangement tailored to the needs of the client, which may be a blend of hourly fee services and flat fee services.

I hope this information is helpful to you.  There is more to it, of course.   Click the link below to go to the page, "How to Select a Lawyer."  It is an excellent pamphlet on the subject by the State Bar of Texas.  I think you'll find I've followed those guidelines. 

 In addition, I have attached a copy of The Texas Lawyer's Creed.  The Creed is an Order by the Texas courts.  Lawyers are to inform clients of its contents.  The Creed states the professional behavior between lawyers and clients, between lawyers and other lawyers, and between lawyers and judges that is expected in our judicial system.  In doing so, the Creed also states expected behavior and conduct of clients in our judicial system. 

 I will be happy to discuss these matters in more detail and to answer any questions you may have.  Just call me or send me an email.

 Thank you.


Marvin Champlin

 ATTACHMENTS:  How to Select a Lawyer;  The Texas Lawyer’s Creed – A Mandate for Professionalism (Go to Home Drop Down Menu, Top Right)