The firm of Bradley Vauter & Associates, P.C. is a small firm but with years of experience. We are here to help you. We are a private firm with a public spirit, and all the attorneys first met while helping in a paid or volunteer basis at a non-profit legal services organization. While much work here is carried out by Brad Vauter, the team includes others and sometimes we may even involve outside help, when and as needed.

We value your business and we treat you fairly.  We’d like to think we could help you, and provide some peace of mind as you wade through the legal thickets.  Let us be your guide–whether creating a plan meeting your needs, or via litigation or administrative appearances to defend your interests or make your claims.

Our Main Areas of Practice

Elder Law and Long Term Care Planning
Probate  and Estate Planning
Property Law
Small Business and Non-Profit Law
Special Education Trusts, Disability Law

This means we often help with estates and trusts, wills, financial and durable powers of attorney, designation of patient advocate arrangements, and Medicare and Medicaid advocacy or planning and probate administration.  We can intervene and try to help if elder abuse or exploitation is suspected.

We also help those worried about long term care planning, or paying for nursing homes or other care, and special needs trusts and government benefits.  If you are concerned about guardianship or need a conservator we can help, just as we can help with care issues and concerns at nursing homes and other facilities.

We also help set up and counsel non-profit organization, take care of application for tax exempt status with the IRS, and provide legal audits for non-profits and small businesses.  We work with small businesses on contract and other issues, such as starting a business, buying a business, selling a business, and so on.

We support and help and advise and represent people with real estate issues, deeds, and property and landlord tenant matters, including evictions.

We also work and try to help seek out solutions for those who are gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered, or those who have HIV/AIDS. Even with the law as it stands, uncertain and sometimes unhelpful, there are many things members of the LGBT community can do in a proactive way to protect themselves, and there are some laws that still apply should they face discrimination, and for those in the community who marry, the Supreme Court decision of 2015 may buttress claims in other areas.  We understand and help.

For families who have a child with disabilities, we help with special needs trusts, and work to determine if the law will help assist with issues facing those with disabilities.

We also work with organizations who need speakers or trainers. We have given hundreds of presentations and trainings over the years.  Some presentations are as short as half an hour, other presentations and trainings might be a day or two long. Our presentations can be tailored to lay or professional audiences. If you need a speaker or trainer, feel free to contact us!

How The Place for Good Counsel℠ Can Help  

First and foremost we can help all clients with a thoughtful consultation. In a consultation we ask you a lot of questions, to get a good grounding of your situation and concern, and you pepper us with questions.  Then we discuss options or ideas for moving forward.

It seems almost too simple, to have a consultation with an attorney. But we take it seriously and so should you. Far too many people don’t get legal advice when they need it, and sometimes, sadly, they pay a big price for  delay or neglect–or reliance on non-attorney advisors.

During a consultation or initial meeting, we might even do quick research on the spot, answer your questions, direct you to other outside resources, and set up a possible plan of action.

Consultations for the first hour are charged at half our normal hourly rate. Most consultations are about an hour or less.  Time beyond the first hour, if applicable, is at regular rates. If you engage us for work, a portion of consultation time may be applied towards our fees. (Unlike some firms that offer “free consultations” we do not.)

The Place for Good Counsel is here so you can get trusted and helpful information and ideas you need to move forward with your legal concerns and issues.  We also provide legal checkups for individuals, often at a flat rate.

When you arrange for a consultation with us, you are not obligated to hire us for anything further, and we are not obligated to represent you further, unless we both agree.

Of course, as in most law firms, we can do much more than a consultation. We can appear in court, and at administrative hearings to protect your interests and represent you. We can draft documents to help achieve your goals, and we can negotiate or mediate or arbitrate issues too. We can advise you on a course of action, counsel you, and help you develop a strategy. We do much work on an hourly basis, but we also do some work on a flat fee basis.

Why You Can Count On Us

We are square with folks. There will be times when we doubt we can help, and we will tell you so. There are other times when we can help, but we might only have a 50-50 or an 80 per cent chance of winning your case or getting a good result in your matter—and we will tell you that too.  You decide whether or not to go forward.  We think a legal checkup or even a consultation has value, and we sometimes offer such things, for quite distant clients, via Skype or similar arrangements.

We also bring many years of experience to bear when we address your concerns, and we try hard to look at the whole person, not just the “legalities” of the matter. Because of this broad or holistic approach, we might suggest that others pitch in or help, particularly in the elder care and elder law area and in the non-profit arena. We are quick to suggest others when we don’t have the expertise – and thus won’t be shy about referring you to public or non-profit resources, or social workers, or care managers, a long-term care ombudsman, an accountant, or so on.

Even though we are quick to suggest you make use of other professionals, if warranted, we are not unwilling to tackle tough problems either. And our experience, as outlined above, can help.

For instance, Vauter was not only the chair of the Elder Law and Disability Rights Section of the State Bar of Michigan (2012-2013), he’s also written articles for the Michigan State Bar Journal, the Michigan Family Law Journal (addressing same sex marriage issues), co-authors a chapter on elder abuse and exploitation in a  publication for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE); given hundreds of presentations to professionals and lay audiences; drafted legislation; and counseled thousands of clients.

Vauter has been a member of NAELA (the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys), a member of the State Bar of Michigan and several sections of the bar, and he is admitted to the Eastern and Western (Federal) District Courts of Michigan. Vauter is certified as a mediator under the Michigan Court Rules (MCR 2.411) and offers mediation services, is a Notary Public and has a Certificate of Completion in Elderly Crime and Abuse: Prevention and Prosecution-a program jointly sponsored by the MSU School of Criminal justice and the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging.

Attorney Jadranko Tomic-Bobas, graduated cum laude from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2010, was an intern at the Sixty Plus, Inc. Elder Law Clinic while in law school, and now works with the firm on a art-time basis.  Mr. Tomic-Bobas has garnered a lot of experience as a Staff Attorney at Lakeshore Legal Aid, the Counsel & Advocacy Law Line, Elder Law of Michigan and serves as a Hearing Referee with the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Jadranko has represented landlords in dozens and dozens of eviction and other property management related legal matters, and he has a deep understanding of Michigan property tax law, having heard and decided hundreds of property tax cases as a referee.

He now serves as the Legal Director for the Hotline at Elder Law of Michigan, when not working with us. His B.A. is from the MSU Eli Broad College of Business. He speaks Croatian and German in addition to English and has lived in Croatia and Germany too.  He serves on the board of directors of Hospice of Lansing and in his very limited spare time, you might find him playing soccer or traveling with his wife.

In October of 2018, attorney Michelle Goetz from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, joined the firm and her work will concentrate in estate law, contract work, and elder law.    Previous to joining the firm, she had been a project coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan.  Goetz also has a Master of Science in Legal Administration from the Denver Sturm College of Law and a Bachelor of the Arts in Sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Of Counsel or Co-Counsel help.  At times, our firm will make use of “of Counsel” arrangements with other attorneys.  A very simple way of looking at it is that, sometimes we pick their brains, or make some use of their services (research or drafting for instance) if we are jammed or facing a unique problem. We always set out those arrangements separately if they are going to be used.

Pricing at The Place For Good Counsel℠

While not free, we think our rates are fair, considering our staffing and experience. Mr. Vauter charges $260.00 per hour.  Other attorneys charge $240 or $220.00 on most matters. Paralegal and support staff time, when applicable, is billed at $ 90.00 per hour.  And if a law clerk can be helpful on a matter, under our supervision, sometimes their work is billed at $32.00 per hour.   Fees are paid at the same time services are rendered or shortly thereafter. Depending on the matter and amounts involved, a retainer might be involved. Some matters are handled on a flat fee or a hybrid flat fee basis instead of hourly.  For more on pricing you can jump here: http://bradvauterlaw.com/sort-costs-looking-much-charge/

Training and speaking arrangements are established on a case-by-case basis. Mediation services are also arranged on a case-by-case basis.  We pride ourselves on being passionate and caring, and it shows in our work as well as relationships with clients, as you will see from the various testimonials. If your group or organization wants or needs a speaker on legal topics with which we have some expertise, please contact us, as it is likely we can work something out that benefits your group or organization or your members.

It is possible to pay us via credit card* too, should you prefer. (*Regular fees and costs and retainers may be paid via credit card, if desired–however if we need to make a deposit in our client trust account for work related to your matter, those payments must be made by cash or money order or check so that we maintain our ethical obligation in regards to full accounting for any such funds.)

 drone shot photos courtesy of Ryan J. Latourette