Tough Questions?

Here are my Answers, Short and Straight.

 A common complaint for my line of work is that no straight answers are available. Here are short, straight answers to questions that can be hard to get elsewhere.

Q: Who are you?

  • A: I am an attorney located in Chicago, Illinois whose work includes mechanics liens. More details are on the ABOUT page.

Q: What is this site really about?

  • A: In Illinois, when someone does work on a building and doesn't get paid, using a mechanics lien, they can sell the building and keep some or all of the sales price. The mortgage may not get paid out of the sale. This is a great way to get paid if you're the worker, and horrible if you own the building or hold the mortgage, but have a dispute with the worker. Whichever side you're on, there are things you can do ahead of time to protect yourself, if you know what to do. If you want to know what those protections are, go back to the LEARN page, or CONTACT me.

Q: All I need is a mechanic's lien form. Just give me the forms, and I'll fill them out.

  • A: Okay, go here to find out where to get forms, and a tidbit of other info...

Q: What do you really want? Why put all this information on the Web for free?

  • A: Because I am in the mechanics lien business, obviously I would like to find clients who need legal services relating to mechanics liens.
  • A: DON'T WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE A PROBLEM TO LEARN THIS MATERIAL. Very few people learn anything about mechanics liens until after a major problem has arisen. However, mechanics liens problems, like so many other kinds of problems, are much easier to prevent than fix. Therefore, one purpose of this page is to teach people the importance of observing mechanics lien principles at the start of the construction process, and during.
  • A: The educated client is one who knows when to call me (among other things).

Q: What do you charge?

  • A: I use different fee systems, depending on the type of case.
  • A: My hourly fee is $150 per hour, calculated on 1/10 hour increments. An hourly fee is used for open-ended commitments, such as litigation.
  • A: Flat fees, that is, a single payment of a specific amount, can be negotiated. If the amount of work is definite, then a definite amount of fee can be arranged, like bidding a construction job. Many legal audits fit this category, and for single-family residence jobs can be as little as $750.00.
  • A: Percentage fees and other types of payment can also be arranged in an appropriate case.

Q: If I call you with a question, aren't you always going to tell me that I need to hire you?

  • A: No. Mechanics lien issues are questions of security in a business transaction, and I can't make the value judgment for someone else about what that security is worth to them.
  • A: What I will do is to make suggestions about what would provide you some peace of mind and how much the peace of mind would cost. Sometimes the dangers in a project are just so small and unlikely that the cost of being careful is too high. Do you really need me to handle a $500 renovation? Probably not. But if your project involves a significant amount of money or is otherwise complex or difficult, then some advice beforehand could mean the difference between a successfully completed project and a catastrophe, like losing your building, losing your mortgage, or bankrupting your business.
  • A: I do not rush into every case because I prefer to build trust with my client over time. Despite some of the advertisements you see in the yellow pages, finding a lawyer should not work like buying a used car - the consequences of rushing into a case are just too serious to do in good conscience for either the lawyer or the client. Besides, one very significant part of what a client needs is advice about which fights to pursue and which fights to avoid. Why start a relationship with bad advice if you want it to last?

Q: I read the other pages about how mechanics liens work, and it just looks like a way to trap people and rip them off using legal technicalities.

  • A: Yes, it certainly can be used that way, which is exactly why you need to make sure that you are not on the receiving end of the legal technicality.

Q: Do you do personal injury or medical malpractice?

  • A: My practice is limited to contract matters, especially construction and mechanics liens, and other commercial and business legal services. Further description is on the CONTACTS page. Personal injury and medical malpractice are not part of my practice. Instead, when I have a request for a type of work which I don't provide, I help people find other lawyers who work in other areas.



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Copyright 2002, Thomas J. Westgard