Every client is concerned about how he/she is going to pay for an attorney. Every attorney is concerned about how the client in going to pay. Anyone who has shopped around for an attorney knows that attorneys are not always very open about how much their services will cost. This can present unrest and mistrust between the potential client and the attorney. What follows is my effort to provide potential clients with a basic explanation of my fee structure to remove that uneasy feeling.
How Do You as an Attorneys Charge Your Clients?
I use three different types of fee methods depending on the case: (1) Contingency Fees, (2) Flat Fees, (3) Hourly Rates.
What is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee means that you do not pay me for my services until I win money for you. This money may come in the form of a settlement or a jury verdict. The contingency fee is a certain percent (%) of your total monetary award. My percent fee is 33%, which is pretty standard throughout the legal community. So, if you bring your case to me, and I win you money, I take 33% of those winnings off the top, and you get the rest. Otherwise, you don’t owe me anything.
A contingency fee is most often seen in Personal Injury cases. Because you are injured and out a lot of money, I am not going to charge you for my services up front. Instead, I am going to take you case, win you money, and then you worry about paying me.
What is a Flat Fee?
A flat fee is just what it sounds like. You bring your case to me, I value the amount of time I will spend on the case, and you pay that flat fee and nothing else. The advantages of a flat fee are that you know exactly how much you are paying for my help, you are better able to budget for those fees, and there are no surprises or questions about how much time I am spending on your case and what work I am charging you for.
The disadvantages of a flat fee are that you are generally required to pay up front and flat fees generally require legal services to be divided into very specific parts. In other words, I do not start work on your case until you pay the flat fee. This may be a substantial amount of money depending on the case. Additionally, our agreement is going to be very specific regarding what legal services I am providing. For example, if you want help suing someone, and you pick the flat fee option, I will charge you a flat fee for the initial hearing only. If there is an appeal in the process, you will owe another flat fee to cover the hearing after the appeal, and so on.
Typically, flat fees are based on estimated time it takes to resolve your case. Therefore, I am not charging you a huge flat fee when I know I can resolve the case in an hour.
What is an Hourly Rate?
An hourly rate agreement means you pay me for the hours I work on your case. This type of fee is mostly seen in defense cases when the end goal is not to win you money, but prevent you from paying money to another. Usually, an hourly rate will start with an up front retainer fee. This is needed to open your file with my office and begin work. Your retainer is then applied to my hourly rate as I do work for your case. Once your retainer is exhausted, you are billed monthly for the hours of work I perform.
The advantage to an hourly rate is that you are sure to pay for exactly how much work I do. However, at the beginning of the case, and throughout the legal process, it is impossible to predict just how much time it will take to fully resolve your case. So, you may end up paying a lot for my services.
When Do I Have to Pick Which Fee Structure I Want?
My fees will be about the last thing we discuss during the initial consultation. It will be necessary for me to listen to all of your facts before I am able to estimate the amount of work that your case may require. From there, I will be able to provide you all of your fee options that I think are appropriate for your case.
How Much Will You Charge?
It is very difficult for me to place a dollar amount here on this site. The amount of money needed for each case is highly dependent on the facts of the case itself. Some cases will require nothing more than a conversation with opposing counsel. Some cases will require multiple court appearances and preparation.
One thing you can count on, my fee will be fair and reasonable. My goal is to provide the benefits of a private attorney to everyone, regardless of financial status.
What is the Difference Between Fees and Costs?
Fees are what you pay me for my services. These options are outlined above. Costs are dollar values assessed by the Court and are not negotiable or adjustable. For example, the Court charges a fee to file a case and serve the Complaint on another person. The Court may charge fees to place your case at issue and get it in front of a jury.
Regardless of the fees, you will be responsible for paying those up front as they are required to move your case through the legal system.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Now that you have an idea of how my fees work, and there won’t be any surprises at the initial consultation, you need to call my office and schedule an initial consultation as soon as possible. The statute of limitations is running on your case, and you must sue before they run out. Or, if you have been sued, the required time to respond is running out and you may end up in default.
Call 412-209-0657 and ask for Matthew Becker.