Hourly Rate Agreements. The Firm can provide the client with legal services to be paid based on the approximate time spent by the firm attorney or staff member in the specific activity. The Firm’s time is billed at hourly rates (in increments of .1 per hour = 6 minutes) which vary based upon the experience of the various lawyers and staff who work on the case. The Firm attempts to employ non-lawyers (e.g., secretaries and paralegals) wherever possible and use the lowest billing rate lawyer in the conduct of a case – sufficiently qualified for the task. The Firm’s hourly rates are provided either in an engagement letter or in a retainer agreement and are subject to annual increases. The client will be invoiced monthly for the time spent by the Firm on a client’s matter and for costs and expenses incurred on behalf of the client.
Hourly rate agreements are often used in defense of litigation or where costs of preparation of the work cannot be readily quantified. When entering into an hourly fee arrangement, the client is encouraged to seek estimates for the work or consider a monthly payment schedule irrespective of the activity that month. Litigation budgets can often form a part of the initial and ongoing communication process. While detailed reporting often increases the level of work for the Firm, the short and informal updates represented by the Firm invoices are an effective tool to solidify and bolster the attorney- client relationship.
Fixed Fee Agreements. Certain types of litigation or other matters lend themselves to an agreed fixed fee, e.g. uncontested probate, the preparation of wills and related estate planning documents, the creation of corporate entities and similar types of work. Often when there are known parameters to an assignment coupled with unknown parameters, the Firm could offer a mixed fixed fee and an hourly rate portion.
Contingency Fee Agreements. A contingency fee agreement is one in which the client and the Firm agree that legal services are provided to the client but are not paid for unless or until there is a settlement or a confirmed award to client by the opposing party. If the client cannot afford to pay an hourly fee for the necessary services as they are provided, the Firm receives an assignment of the case proceeds for an agreed upon share of the recovery in compensation for services rendered. Unless otherwise set forth in the engagement letter, the client may be asked to deposit sufficient funds with the Firm as an advance to cover expenses for court filing fees, deposition and investigation expenses, and related litigation expenses. The contingency fee, unless otherwise agreed, is calculated on the gross proceeds. Contingency fee agreements are often used when a client has suffered some financial or personal injury, and where the opposing party is a viable defendant.