LEGAL FEES AND COSTS
Most criminal defense matters are handled for a flat fee paid in advance as a retainer. The flat fee, which is usually between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00 for District Court cases and $10,000.00 and up for Superior Court cases, covers all aspects of taking the case all the way through trial to verdict.
The only costs not included in the flat fee are those things that need to be done in the case that require money be paid out, such as hiring a private investigator and summonsing witnesses for trial. Those costs, which will be discussed with and authorized by the client before they are incurred, must be paid by the client either directly or by reimbursing me.
Because most criminal cases end in plea bargains before trial, a portion of the flat fee, usually 3/5ths, will be refunded to the client if the case is settled by a plea bargain or dismissal at least 30 days before any scheduled trial date.
Divorce, Paternity, Contempt, Modification and most Civil Litigation
These cases are handled on an hourly basis plus out of pocket costs. My current hourly rate is $225.00. An advance payment, or retainer, typically in the amount of $2,000.00, is required. The amount of the retainer can vary based upon the circumstances of each case.
Each month I send a statement to each client setting out what has been done in the case, the time it took, the dollar cost of that time and the amount left of the retainer. If the case is resolved before the retainer is used up, the remaining balance is returned to the client. If the retainer is gone and the case is ongoing, the client must pay the stated balance due or make arrangements for a further retainer payment. Unpaid balances are charged interest at the rate of 12% per year after 30 days. Balances left unpaid for any significant period of time will result in me withdrawing from the case allowed by the court under the applicable laws and court rules. There is never any charge for time spent discussing billing matters. It is important that all my clients completely understand the fees and costs related to their cases.
A copy of a typical hourly agreement, the contract between my client and me for legal services, follows below.
Personal Injury and some Civil Litigation (Collection)
Personal injury cases, such as those were my client is suing the driver of the other car for causing an accident, and some collection cases, such as suing someone for non-payment of a legitimate bill for goods sold or services rendered, are often handled on a contingent fee basis. A contingent fee is a percentage, typically 33.3%, of whatever amount of money may come from the settlement or trial of the case plus out of pocket costs paid by me or my firm.
Contingent fees are prohibited by court rule in criminal, divorce and other family law cases.
HOURLY FEE AGREEMENT
I, ___________________, the "Client," hereby agree to retain
Representation and legal advice in connection with __________________.
1. The Attorney will receive a $2,000.00 as payment on account for legal representation and services described above. As soon as this partial payment of $2,000 is received the Attorney agrees to provide legal services in connection with the above matter and to keep the client fully informed of all significant developments, and to send copies of relevant documents necessary to achieve that purpose. The payment received shall be applied against both the bills for the legal services performed for the Client and the costs and disbursements as described below.
2. Time charges for legal services rendered by the Attorney, with regard to the matter or matters set out above, will be billed at $225.00 per hour. The minimum amount of time spent on any matter or activity with regard to any case will be five (5) minutes.
3. Whenever the retainer balance approaches zero, an additional payment of $1,000.00 must be made to replenish your account. Failure to pay the additional retainer payments promptly will permit the Attorney, after notice to the Client, to terminate representation of the Client as permitted by applicable rules of court and law. Any outstanding balance due, or part thereof, that remains unpaid for 30 or more days shall be subject to a finance charge of 12% per year.
4. If you wish to use a credit card to pay any additional retainer required and/or any monthly billing balance due after your retainer has been exhausted, please contact me or my assistant immediately to make the necessary arrangements. THE CLIENT HEREBY AUTHORIZES THE ATTORNEY TO USE THE CREDIT CARD INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE CLIENT TO EFFECT ALL ADDITIONAL ACCOUNT REPLENISHMENT PAYMENTS AND/OR MONTHLY BILLING BALANCE DUE PAYMENTS WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE TO OR AUTHORIZATION FROM THE CLIENT. Failure to pay any monthly billing balance promptly, by credit card or otherwise, will permit the Attorney, after notice to the Client, to terminate representation of the Client as permitted by applicable rules of court and law.
5. If at completion or termination of the legal services, the total bills for the services performed and out of pocket disbursements incurred is less than the amount of the payment or payments on account, the balance of that account will be promptly refunded to the Client.
6. In the event the Client shall discharge the Attorney, or in the event the Attorney terminates the representation of the Client, the Attorney shall be paid for all work performed up to the point of termination of services, and this payment shall include all charges and expenses made or incurred up to and including the date of termination or discharge.
7. The time charges include, but are not limited to court appearances, including waiting time, travel to and from court, telephone conferences, telephone calls to and from the Client, office conferences, legal research, depositions, review of file materials and documents sent or received, drafting of pleadings, correspondence and memoranda, and preparation for trials, hearings and conferences.
8. The Client agrees to pay all costs incurred and out of pocket disbursements made by the Attorney, including, but not limited to, filing fees, witness fees, travel, sheriff's and constable's fees, expenses of depositions, investigative expenses, expert witness fees, electronic legal and factual research charges, charges for bulk photocopying done by outside services (generally any copying job of fifty pages or more), telephone toll charges, facsimile transmission, postage costs for any single item costing more than $1.00 to mail and all shipping costs.
9. The Attorney and Client state that no results have been guaranteed by the Attorney to the Client and that this agreement is not based upon any such promises or anticipated results.
10. Other Terms: None
CLIENT UNDERSTANDS AND ACKNOWLEDGES THAT NO LEGAL REPRESENTATION, APPEARANCE, OR PREPARATION WILL BEGIN IN THIS MATTER UNTIL PAYMENT ON ACCOUNT AS SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPH ONE IS PAID IN FULL.
We, the Client and the Attorney, have read this Fee Agreement and agree to its terms and have signed it as our free act and deed on _____________________.
The Client acknowledges receipt of a copy of this agreement.
Client _____________________ Date: ___________________
THIS IS A LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT. ASK TO HAVE EACH TERM YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND FULLY EXPLAINED TO YOU SO THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THE AGREEMENT YOU ARE MAKING.
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