Determination of Fees
The Firm bases its fees on such factors as the degree of difficulty of a particular legal task, the amount of time involved, the experience and skill of the attorney, and the Firm’s overhead. The Firm’s overhead includes rent, equipment, salaries, maintenance of a library, and costs associated with maintaining professional skills and education. The Firm’s overhead comprises approximately 35 to 50 percent of the legal fees charged.
The Firm’s services normally involves research, investigation and case preparation. At the initial meeting, the Firm will discuss the time anticipated to resolve the case, the difficulties likely to be encountered, and the complexity of the legal issues in the particular case. The attorney/client relationship involves a mutual commitment. Both parties have a need from the outset to have a full and complete understanding of the commitment.
COST DEPOSITS AND RETAINERS
Under the Rules of Professional Conduct for the legal profession, the Firm is prohibited from engaging in frivolous lawsuits. Therefore, the Firm will require a cost deposit or retainer before we take a case. A retainer is an advance on legal fees to be charged in the future. A cost deposit is different from the attorney’s fees to be charged in a case. Cost deposits are used to cover expenses such as filing fees, deposition costs, expert fees and other expenses. The Firm may ask for additional monies if the costs or time incurred exceed the original deposit or retainer.
TYPES OF ATTORNEY’S FEES
There are several distinct types of legal fees.
Fixed Fees: For frequently performed services such as drafting an uncomplicated will or assisting with an uncomplicated real estate transaction, the Firm may charge a fixed fee that can be readily quoted to you.
Hourly Charge: Most matters handled by the Firm are handled by a fixed hourly charge for the services. The Firm’s fee is computed by multiplying the fixed hourly charge by the number of hours spent working for the client. The final fee may still include other direct out-of-pocket expenses, such as court filing costs, photocopying charges, long distance telephone charges, travel costs or other expenses directly related to a particular case.
Contingent Fees: In certain types of lawsuits, such as personal injury, collections and auto damages, the Firm may agree to accept a part of the money the client recovers as the fee for services. Such an arrangement is called a contingent fee. Under the lawyer’s ethics rules, the Firm and client must enter into a written fee agreement at the outset of the representation, stating what portion of the recovery the Firm will receive. The fee is generally fixed at a percentage of the recovery. An additional percentage may be added if the matter is tried again or appealed to a higher court. Customarily, the Firm does not receive any contingent fee when the lawsuit is unsuccessful, but the client is expected to reimburse the attorney for out-of-pocket expenses such as court filing fees or expenses paid to witnesses. If the client wins the suit, these same expenses may be deducted from the client’s share of the recovery.
Mixed Fee Arrangement: In some matters, the Firm may utilize a combination of the above fee arrangements, such as a reduced hourly rate with a contingent bonus if a matter is successful. This type of arrangement is handled on a case-by-case basis.
HOW TO HOLD DOWN LEGAL COSTS
Before meeting with the Firm: Gather all information together in a logical order. Be sure you have current correct telephone numbers and addresses of key individuals and witnesses, if applicable. Prepare a written statement of your problems and what you want done. Make photocopies of everything for the Firm. The Firm will let you know if originals are needed.
During your initial consultation: Present an overall view of your position. Share all relevant information, let the Firm decide what is not in your favor. It is much better for the Firm to know everything, rather than be surprised later.
After the matter is accepted: Gather your thoughts before calling the Firm. Make notes to yourself on the matter and issues which you want to discuss with the Firm.
All new clients are entitled to a discounted fee for the initial consultation.