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Old 05-10-2011, 07:47 AM   #41
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The company I retired from could not afford my current rate ....
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:18 PM   #42
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I'm apparently in the minority, but I agree with your decision.

Challenges to right-of-way purchase prices are routine - there's a whole cottage industry of lawyers who specialize in representing property owners. I believe in the old law books there is something about eminent domain, fair compensation, and redress of grievances.

I've never heard of the EIS procedures being dragged into the determination of land value, however. (Limited knowledge - I mostly work on locally-funded projects, and we don't follow the full NEPA process used in federal-aid projects.)

Of course, in the old environment when property values "always" rose from year to year, an appraisal performed at the time of an offer could be presumed to be at a higher value than one pulled together using last year's sales comps. Sounds like a sharp lawyer is trying to make a case that fair compensation is the land's value at the time your agency was "ready and willing" to buy the land, as measured by some 2007 milestone in the EIS process.

Engineers don't get called to the stand to talk about land values. From what you have posted, it appears to me the DAG is just doing due diligence to put together a definitive EIS timeline for use in case the plaintiff and his land value "experts" make some progress on this theory with the court.

On compensation, I think $100/ hour plus travel expenses is a very fair rate for a consulting engineer with your experience. Bumping it up to $150 or $200 in the event court testimony is required would not be unusual.
I think the history is just to establish a timeline and fill in some gaps. I'm not worried about this now that I know what it's about. You're right, this kind of thing is pretty routine. Engineers usually don't get in a lot trouble unless something with their name on it falls down. Luckily, at the DOT in Nevada the director signed the plans. We never had to use our stamps. The Department assumes liability.

I'm going to ask for $100.

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The catch with consulting is the time around your billable hours that you cannot bill for. That eats into the hourly rate very quickly, especially if you are not certain of a full 8 hour day. A 2 hour meeting at $75/hr is likely not worth it. At $150/hr, it may be. It is unlikely they have full days of work for you. Also consider how much time you have spent thinking about the request.

A per day fee is another way around the issue, if you're not comfortable asking for $150/hr.

Consider how much they have to save from your information.
OK, I'm going to ask for $150. Just kidding, I'm still pondering that and you bring up some good points. I will be charging for driving time plus mileage. I live an hour and a half from the outside council's office. Easy money, but a half day quickly turns into a full day. Plus I'm losing time from working on my books and I've spent an hour posting about it on here.

I guess, I'm gonna have to put pen to paper and work something out. I figure if I ask fro something, I might as well be able to back it up. I'm not really worried. I'm dealing with lawyers. If I ask for $150 an hour, they'll probably laugh me out of the room for coming in too low
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:43 AM   #43
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If I ask for $150 an hour, they'll probably laugh me out of the room for coming in too low
This can be a legitimate concern. When I was doing my masters, I had a prof who just taught because he enjoyed it. He made most of his money as a consultant, and he told this story:

The first time he was approached about doing something outside the classroom, (he had already produced a couple of books) it was an IBM rep who wanted to fly him and his wife to a luxury resort in the Caribbean for a weekend, just to give a one-hour talk to a gathering of their top sales reps.

He thought hard about it, and finally came up with a fee (X) that he though extremely high, but possible. When he told the IBM rep, the guy laughed, and said "Oh, we couldn't possibly pay you that." The prof was crestfallen, and figured he had overreached himself and was being too greedy.

Then the IBM rep went on to say "If I submitted a voucher for X, they would think I was just hiring some yokel off the street. They expect top quality, so we couldn't possibly pay you less than 6X."

That was the start of an extremely lucrative consulting career.
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Old 05-11-2011, 06:05 AM   #44
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I'm not an attorney; however, there should be some stipulation that you round your billable hours up. If you work twenty minutes you get paid an hour. I would think you'd want a minimum amount, e.g. $2,000, guaranteed (plus expenses) regardless of billable hours. I'm sure a couple of the legal eagles will wander by and fix add to my comments.
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:54 AM   #45
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I'm not really worried. I'm dealing with lawyers. If I ask for $150 an hour, they'll probably laugh me out of the room for coming in too low
Exactly. I worked with two attorneys recently. The senior partner charged $400/hr, the junior partner (who did most of the work) $200/hr. Having a meeting with both of them (always necessary) cost $600/hr. Your $150 might be seen as a bargain. Probably can't hurt to take a shot.
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Old 05-12-2011, 10:29 AM   #46
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And if your testimony is as good for them as those 2 lawyers, then $2500/day is a bargain!
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Old 05-15-2011, 12:44 PM   #47
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I am with Kcowan. Clearly they need you. $2500. plus expenses sounds right. It is always great to be on the right side of the supply/demand curve. This assumes that you will be consulting and will not be subject to any issues involving professional liability or errors/omissions etc.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:08 PM   #48
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I would suggest that you charge 3X your terminal compensation per hour (adjusted for inflation since you retired, and rounded up to the nearest $25).

Plus expenses plus travel time (or 50% of travel time if you're feeling generous).
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Old 05-15-2011, 09:05 PM   #49
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WADR, whatever you decide is fair, is fair. Make sure you get it.
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Old 05-16-2011, 11:54 AM   #50
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Well, I talked with the DAG and she told me to expect a call from the outside attorney. that was a week ago. I'm not assuming I will never hear from them, but it's been a week. Kind of hoping they decided they don't need me.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:06 PM   #51
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Well, I did get contacted via e-mail. I talked with the DAG about actually traveling to their office to look over the project materials, but the outside attorney said there was no need to travel and she only needed me for a few hours.

I proposed $150 an hour plus expenses or if less than 8 hours total a lump sum of $1500 plus expenses. I thought about it and if this is less than 8 hours, hourly is just not worth my trouble. Just doing the taxes on the few hundred bucks would take an hour or two.

Waiting for a response.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:11 PM   #52
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Well, I did get contacted via e-mail. I talked with the DAG about actually traveling to their office to look over the project materials, but the outside attorney said there was no need to travel and she only needed me for a few hours.

I proposed $150 an hour plus expenses or if less than 8 hours total a lump sum of $1500 plus expenses. I thought about it and if this is less than 8 hours, hourly is just not worth my trouble. Just doing the taxes on the few hundred bucks would take an hour or two.

Waiting for a response.
They'll do 9 or 10 hours then.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:16 PM   #53
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They'll do 9 or 10 hours then.
Ya I considered that after I sent it. I am hoping it's either really just a few hours or it's more long term. You are right, I left a sweet spot in there.
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:21 PM   #54
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Believe me, 2500/day, minimum 2 days is the way to go. You don't want to do this! Why make it financially attractive for them to abuse you?

(I know I am repeating myself!)
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Old 08-04-2011, 09:04 PM   #55
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For those of you waiting for a resolution to this, I met with the attorney today. About 6 hours of discussing the project and three hours driving for me. Made a cool $1500 plus mileage and meals. Not bad. Any future questions will be billed at $150 and hour in quarter hour increments, probably by phone or e-mail.

Was pretty easy and laid back. The attorney was really friendly and easy on the eyes to boot. Easy money. Just wanted to follow up. Now with this complete, you can all go back to your lives.
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Old 08-04-2011, 09:07 PM   #56
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Thanks for the report.
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Old 08-04-2011, 09:09 PM   #57
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Swwwweeeet!

Yep, gotta get back to my life I've put in suspension for two and a half months. NOT! Thanks for the update. You can wipe that cheesy smile off your face now.
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Old 08-04-2011, 10:36 PM   #58
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Glad to hear it worked out for you!
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Old 08-04-2011, 10:47 PM   #59
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I am happy to hear that it all worked out. Sounds like a Win-Win deal!
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:41 PM   #60
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For those of you waiting for a resolution to this, I met with the attorney today. About 6 hours of discussing the project and three hours driving for me. Made a cool $1500 plus mileage and meals.
Whew-- no subpoena.

What happens to the money-- can it be deposited in an IRA as earned income, or does it fall into some sort of non-taxable category like "reimbursement"?
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