Legal fees

Just discussing legal fees can be a bit unnerving, particularly for those who have no prior experience with legal counsel. If it is a meritorious non criminal case, I do what I can to provide legal representation on some basis the client can handle. We do accept credit cards.

There are generally three ways to handle legal fees:  a fixed, flat fee for a particular service no matter the time involved, a contingent fee where the fee is a percentage of the recovery or finally work done on an hourly rate.

  Preparation of simple wills, organization of a small business, criminal defense of serious traffic violations or criminal misdemeanors are the type of matters that are often handled on the basis of a fixed fee.  Generally, this is paid in full at the beginning of the representation.  Depending on the circumstances and the time constraints involved, payment plans are a possibility and vary depending on the case and the individuals involved. 

In contingent fee cases where a recovery of money is sought in litigation, such as automobile accidents cases, some breach of contract claims and some employment matters can be handled on the basis of a contingent fee.  This type of fee arrangement is very common in automobile accident and other personal injury cases.  Generally, payment of a legal fee is contingent on recovering money from the responsible party and is usually based on a percentage of the total recovery.  Depending on the size of the anticipated recovery and the difficulty and time involved in the case, contingent fees can range from 20 to 50% of the total recovery.

Third, legal representation can be provided on the basis of an hourly rate for the time expended by the attorney working on the matter.  In many complicated matters where it is virtually impossible to predict the amount of time required, a reasonable hourly rate is often the solution.  Generally, payment of an initial deposit is required which is placed in the attorney's trust account.  As work is performed each month, an itemized bill is provided the client reflecting the amount of time and the work performed and money is then transferred from the trust account to the attorney to pay that bill. 

In all instances, the legal fee arrangement is reduced to writing so that the client clearly understands how the representation will be paid for and misunderstandings can be avoided.  I encourage all potential clients to address this important issue in a frank manner recognizing that these discussions are strictly confidential.

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