Let's Talk Fees
As with all businesses that provide a service, we assess a fee to our clients. The fee is the money we charge for legal services we render to our clients. Each firm can structure its fees differently. We base our fees on the practice area, case location, case complexity, experience of the lawyer, and other factors.
Our criminal defense and family law fees are reasonable and usually below what the market dictates. Although we’re in business to profit, we’re also compassionate people who try to help the community. Let’s consider how we struct and collect our fees.
The consultation fee is the initial fee we charge to meet with a potential client to gather sufficient information to evaluate their case. We charge $300 for a family law consultation and $250 for a criminal defense consultation. After the one-hour consultation, we assess whether the case matches our firm’s practice areas and caseload. If so, we apply and credit the consultation fee to the total legal bill. Our firm doesn’t charge a consultation fee to military veterans as the Senior Partner is a Navy Veteran. And we don’t charge consultation fees for personal injury or civil rights cases.
We charge a retainer fee to our family law and criminal cases. We assess the retainer fee because we have made our firm available to the client. It is due when a client retains our firm and enters an attorney-client relationship. We require it because that client has taken a slot on our caseload. Therefore, we’re rejecting other potential clients for that slot. The retainer fee is nonrefundable.
We charge our family law clients an hourly fee. An hourly fee is the money we charge per hour of work we perform on our family law cases. We bill for everything we do on a client’s case, including correspondence with opposing counsel or court personnel, client communication via email or phone time used to prepare for hearings or trials, the time spent in hearings or trials, and other services we perform. For example, if an attorney’s billing rate is $300, and she spends 30 minutes preparing for a hearing, she bills the client $150. We reserve the right to increase our fees at any time, subject to any pending fee agreement.
The family retainer fee breaks down in the following way. The total quoted fee is made up of a nonrefundable fee and a refundable fee. The nonrefundable fee goes directly to the firm’s account. The remaining fee is a refundable fee to bill the client as we work on the case. This fee goes into the client’s trust account.
Our family law clients must maintain an agreed minimum dollar amount in their trust accounts, so there is always money there to bill for the work we do on their case.
We detail the type and amount of work done in an invoice as we work on the case. After the client’s trust account goes down the agreed minimum level, the client will receive a trust request to put more money into their trust account. We keep our clients abreast of their outstanding invoices, so we don’t have to stop working on their cases because of a lack of trust funds. This cycle continues until the case is resolved. Once the matter closes, we will refund any remaining money in the client’s trust account.
For our criminal defense cases, we charge a flat retainer fee. This flat fee means we evaluate your legal case and charge you one price that covers all the work we complete on your case. However, there may also be an additional fee for taking your case to trial or to appeal your case. We realize attorney fees may be challenging to pay in full upon retaining our firm. Thus, we offer payment plans for specific clients. We offer payment plans only for our criminal defense clients.
We use contingency fees for our personal injury and civil rights cases. It means the client doesn’t pay any upfront fee for our legal services. We only collect fees in these types of cases if we obtain acceptable monetary compensation. Once we have a successful settlement or verdict, we receive a percentage of the money granted to our client. In other words, our fee depends on or is contingent upon our firm collecting monetary damages. Unless we get our clients an acceptable settlement or verdict even more succinctly stated, we don’t get paid. The standard percentage that we collect in contingent fee cases is 30%. It’s higher if we file a lawsuit or take a case to trial.
We value providing legal services for our clients and appreciate their commitment to compensating us for the services we offer them. We believe you’ll find our fees are competitive in our market and are well worth the service we provide our clients. Thank you for supporting our business.