The John Gear Law Office, LLC was established in September 2010. Just as I turned 50 and decided that what I wanted to do for the rest of my career was be the kind of lawyer who found peace and satisfaction by helping real people avoid legal difficulties and to resolve any that do come up as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
The focus of the firm is in bringing the family lawyer and counselor back into the legal marketplace -- giving average Joes and Janes a way to be able to afford to get answers to the questions that bother them instead of just not thinking about them and hoping that they'll be all right. I want to be a resource for the 90% of Americans in the middle -- the people who make too much to qualify for free Legal Aid but not enough to have to worry about estate taxes. I apply this focus in three main areas: Consumers, Elders, and Nonprofits.
Only in private practice for a short while. So far, I have helped numerous debtors negotiate with creditors to reschedule debts and to straighten out wrongful collection efforts.
Security Building 161 High Street SE
Salem OR 97301
No -- to keep my rates honest, I don't give "Free" consultations. My standard rate for a brief office consultation is $100, $200 if I must travel to you (within 30 miles) outside the office.
Simple wills for an individual (no living trusts) can be prepared for $350 for an individual, $650 for a couple.
Consulting and nonprofit formation for new nonprofits (articles of incorporation, EIN, bylaws, and 501c(3) application, guidance on meetings and minutes) is $2,000.
On a typical day without appointments in court or at a client's house, I arrive at the office late in the morning and stay into the evening. I am happy to modify my schedule to accommodate working families who need to see me in the evening or even on the weekend.
My wife, a masters-prepared social worker, has worked with elders for many, many years in a variety of settings. We became very attached to a group of elders from our church who were living in a continuing care retirement facility. Seeing so many people face the difficulties of elder hood in America convinced me that there are far too many attorneys who want to help the wealthy and far too few who want to help folks who will never have to worry about the estate tax.
I found my focus on consumer law the hard way, having been scammed during one of our moves after leaving the military. I find it easy to sympathize with people who need help dealing with large bureaucracies and corporations or who run afoul of businesses who engage in sharp practices. I love to help people escape from their clutches.
And I found my focus on nonprofits because I do so much community volunteer service that I got to see at close hand how many great organizations needed help in legal affairs and strategy.
I welcome and encourage prospective clients who have researched issues and can make their work with an attorney as productive as possible. As a second-career attorney, I know what it is like for clients to deal with an attorney. I applaud clients who want to take control and participate fully in resolving their legal concerns.
Absolutely. I value clients who are involved and active participants in their own legal affairs, and have no problem with working collaboratively with clients who want to do more than take advice and write checks. I am happy to offer clear engagement letters that limit the scope of my involvement and my fees to a mutually agreeable level. If you want to see a lawyer who respects how much people can do for themselves, I want to see you.
As with document review, I applaud and encourage clients to take as much control over their legal affairs as they are comfortable and competent to do, and I am happy to help clients make that assessment intelligently. I would be happy to provide limited engagements in a number of ways, such as critiquing client-drafted briefs and motions, coaching for self-representation, drafting pleadings, etc.
An engineer-turned-attorney, I was a Navy enlisted man, nuclear submarine officer, senior engineer, technical writer and editor, and operations management consultant before attending law school on a full scholarship. Graduating 2nd in a class of 120, I worked as a research attorney for two years for the Michigan Court of Appeals before serving as a regulatory attorney for the Michigan Public Service Commission and then as a specialist for the Oregon Department of Energy.
I grew up as the youngest child in an economically challenged household. Had I not enlisted in the Navy and then won an NROTC scholarship, I would probably not have gone to college, as my next two older siblings did not. I did not know any lawyers until I was over 30 years old, a former submarine officer, and was working as a senior engineer -- so I have a lot of insight that lawyers who enter law school right after college can never have.
My biggest strength is creative intelligence -- not just the ability to analyze problems but to come up with new and different ideas for solving those problems. Partly this is a result of having had a full and active life before becoming an attorney at age 43 --- I am not someone who immediately assumes that an expensive legal battle is the best approach to a dispute.
My style is informal and collegial -- I know from having worked at the most menial jobs throughout high school and college that there are plenty of very bright people who don't attain higher education, but who deserve respect for their intelligence and character.
I'm working hard to learn to grow fruits and vegetables. I like to walk and bicycle as much as possible and to take the train to explore new places. I read widely and like to play chess whenever I can, and when my two cats haven't hidden the pieces.
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