How much is it going to cost to…? When clients seek legal representation, one of the primary concerns is how much the fee will cost and whether there are payments allowed. In this video, Suffolk lawyer Andrew Page explains the three basic fee structures for legal representation.
Basically, there are three fee structures for legal representation that are standard in the industry: fixed retainer fees, contingency fees, and hourly fees. The type of fee structure depends on the type and circumstances of your particular case. No matter what fee structure is ultimately used, the Virginia State Bar requires that all fees be “reasonable” based on certain factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, experience, complexity of the task, time involved, customary fee for the locale, etc.
A fixed retainer fee is essentially a flat fee that sets the total fee for the total representation right at the beginning. Usually, these types of fees are used in cases where there is certainty as to the time involved in the case and involves less complex matters. Traffic cases, criminal cases, wills, and power of attorney and advanced medical directive documents are examples of the types of cases we offer fixed fees on. Occasionally, though rarely, a fixed rate may be used in a domestic relations case, but under very specific circumstances.
A contingency fee is an arrangement where the client does not have to pay a fee unless there is a recovery for the client, whether by settlement or judgment. These types of fees are usually based on the attorney receiving a percentage of the award. The fee does not include out-of-pocket costs such as to obtain medical records or hiring an expert. Those costs are separate expenses for the client as required by the Virginia State Bar. The attorney is not allowed to pay the costs for a client except under very limited circumstances. Contingency fee arrangements are used most often in personal injury cases and certain civil litigation cases. The Virginia State Bar does not allow results based contingency arrangements in criminal cases or domestic relations cases.
An hourly rate is the traditional model for law firms where a client puts an amount of money up front in a trust account, called a retainer. While in the trust account, the money remains the client’s. When the attorney performs work on the case, the attorney bills the work at his or her hourly rate and the money is transferred to the firm operating account. If the case concludes and there is money remaining in the trust, the firm writes a check to the client with the remaining balance after all fees are paid. If the trust account is exhausted, the client has the option of continuing representation with the firm by replenishing the trust or, alternatively, allow the attorney to withdraw from the case. The hourly rate applies to most domestic relations cases and certain civil litigation matters.
If you are in need of representation or have a question about legal fees, you can reach Drew at our Suffolk Office at (757) 935-9065 or visit our website at www.randallpagelaw.com.