(almost) Everything You Always Wanted to Know
About Legal Fees
(but were afraid to ask)
TYPES OF FEES
FIRST CONSULTATION. This office does not have a "free initial consultation" policy. The first hour is approximately one-half of the regular hourly rate. After the first hour, the regular hourly rate applies. In cases where the meeting is not for the purpose of obtaining legal advice, but rather for the purpose of getting acquainted as part of a potential client's process of "shopping" for an attorney, there is no fee. The time for such meetings is, however, subject to availability.
HOURLY RATE. Nearly all services provided by this office are charged at an hourly rate for all time devoted to the client's legal matter. The time spent on each activity is multiplied by the applicable rate to determine the fee charged. Time is charged in increments of one-tenth of an hour.
CONTINGENCY FEE. In some cases, the fee is determined as a percentage of the amount actually recovered by the attorney for the client. If the client recovers nothing, there is no fee. Contingency fee arrangements are most often used in personal injury, malpractice cases, negligence, and debt collection cases. This office generally does not handle these types of cases (other than certain debt collection matters). Consequently, contingency fee arrangements are rarely utilized by this office.
FLAT FEE. For certain legal matters, a fixed fee may agreed to in advance, regardless of the time actually spent. Simple wills are typically handled on this basis.
RETAINER. An advance payment is normally required to employ the firm to undertake the client's legal matter. The retainer should not be confused with a flat fee. The retainer is applied to fees and expenses as they are incurred, however, total fees and expenses may exceed the retainer. If the retainer exceeds the total charges, the excess is returned to the client at the conclusion of services.
EXPENSES. Unless otherwise stated in the Retainer Agreement, the client is responsible for payment of all expenses incurred, in addition to the legal fees charged. Such expenses may include filing fees, witness fees, fees for expert witnesses, travel, lodging, long distance telephone, postage, copying, depositions and transcripts, stenographers, messengers, and any other expenses incurred in connection with the client's legal matter. The client may be required to advance funds for anticipated expenses.
TIME. Particularly under an hourly rate fee arrangement, it is important for the client to keep in mind that all time spent on the client's legal matter is "billable" time for which a fee will be charged. This includes time spent on: telephone conversations with the client and others; meetings with the client and others; drafting, reviewing, and modifying documents; maintaining notes and memoranda of meetings and conversations; research; traveling to and from meetings and hearings; dictating letters; reading letters from others; and planning, organizing and thinking through the legal issues, problems or strategies involved in the client's legal matter.
BILLING. Unless otherwise agreed, payment of fees and expenses is due upon receipt of the statement. Statements are normally mailed at the beginning of each month. Statements will itemize the dates and types of activity on the account for the most recent month, the time spent, and the fees and expenses charged. The client should examine the statement carefully upon receipt and notify the firm immediately if there is any question, complaint or dispute concerning a fee or expense charged. If the amount due on the statement is not paid in full by the end of the month, then the account will be considered delinquent and the firm may suspend further services until the statement is paid. If the statement is not paid after further notice and demand, then the firm may withdraw from further representation of the client and take such action as necessary to collect any amount due on the account. Delinquent accounts may be assessed a late charge of one percent (1%) per month on the delinquent balance.
(The following is the standard retainer agreement used in this office. The agreement may vary depending upon the facts and circumstances presented by the individual client.)
Attorney and Client agree that Attorney will represent Client in the following matter:
subject to the terms of this Retainer Agreement.
RETAINER. Upon payment of $_____________ as a retainer, Attorney will begin work on Client's legal matter. The retainer will be applied to fees and expenses. Total fees and expenses may exceed the retainer, and will depend on the actual amount of time spent and expenses incurred. If the retainer exceeds the total charges, the excess will be repaid to Client upon conclusion of the case.
FEES. Fees will be charged at the rate of $________ per hour for all time devoted to the above legal matter for six months from the date of this agreement. Thereafter, the hourly rate may be adjusted by Attorney to the standard hourly rate in effect at that time. The time billed for each activity is multiplied by the hourly rate to determine the amount charged. Time is billed in increments of one-tenth of an hour; for example, 0.20 billed on the Client's statement means two tenths of an hour, not twenty minutes. The minimum charge is 0.10 hr.
1-6 minutes = 0.10 hr. 7-12 minutes = 0.20 hr. 13-18 minutes = 0.30 hr. 19-24 minutes = 0.40 hr. 25-30 minutes = 0.50 hr.
31-36 minutes = 0.60 hr. 37-42 minutes = 0.70 hr. 43-48 minutes = 0.80 hr. 49-54 minutes = 0.90 hr. 55-60 minutes = 1.00 hr.
All time spent on the Client's legal matter is billable time for which a fee will be charged. This includes time spent on meetings with the Client and others, telephone calls with the Client and others, preparing and reviewing documents, maintaining records of meetings and conversations, research, travel to and from meetings and court hearings, dictating and reviewing letters, time spent on keeping the Client informed of the progress and status of the matter, and any other services relating to the Client's legal matter.
EXPENSES. The Client is responsible for payment of all expenses incurred, in addition to the above fees. Examples of expenses are filing fees, witness fees, travel, lodging, long distance telephone, postage, copying, depositions and transcripts, messengers, and any other expenses incurred in connection with the Client's legal matter.
ADVANCE FEES AND EXPENSES. Attorney may require Client to advance funds for anticipated charges for legal fees and/or expenses. Such advances will be held in Attorney's trust account, in the Client's name, and drawn upon as fees and/or expenses are actually incurred. Such funds (including the retainer) do not bear interest. Any advanced fees or expenses which are not expended will be repaid to Client upon conclusion of the case.
STATEMENTS. Statements will itemize the dates and types of activity for the most recent month, the time billed, and the fees and expenses charged. Statements are normally mailed at the beginning of each month. Payment in full is due upon receipt of the statement. Client will notify Attorney immediately if there is any question, complaint or dispute concerning a fee or expense charged. Unless the statement is questioned by Client by the end of the month it's mailed, the statement will be deemed correct and accepted by Client. If the amount due on the statement is not paid in full by the end of the month, the account will be considered delinquent and Attorney may suspend further services until the statement is paid. If the statement remains delinquent after a warning, Attorney may withdraw from further representation of Client and take such action as necessary to collect the account. Delinquent accounts may be assessed a monthly late charge of one percent (1%) of the past due balance.
RESPONSIBILITIES. Client will cooperate with attorney and provide all information relevant to the matter involved. Attorney will provide conscientious, competent and diligent services, and exercise his best efforts to achieve the legal objectives sought by client. Because of the uncertainty of legal proceedings, interpretation and changes in the law, and unpredictable factors, attorney cannot warrant or guarantee the result or final outcome of litigation. Attorney will not settle or compromise any claim without the knowledge and consent of client; nor will client settle or compromise any claim without the knowledge of the attorney. If client demands any action or conduct which is unethical, frivolous, non-meritorious, for the purpose of harassment or to frustrate the judicial process, or which would involve attorney's violation the Code of Professional Conduct, attorney will be entitled to withdraw from further representation of client and shall be paid for all accrued fees, expenses, and late charges if any. Attorney may withdraw from representation of client if attorney determines there is a conflict of interest because of attorney's representation of an existing client. It is understood that attorney represents other clients in oil and gas law matters in Eastern Kansas, and that attorney will exercise his best judgment in determining whether a conflict of interest has arisen because of representation of other clients.
DISPOSITION OF FILE AND DOCUMENTS. Attorney will keep client's file and any documents obtained by attorney during representation in this matter for a period of five years after the matter is concluded, after which time the file and any documents therein may be destroyed without further notice to client. Client may request the return of any documents provided by client at any time during such period.
ESTIMATED CHARGES. Attorney has estimated fees and expenses of this matter may be approximately $_______________ or within a range of $_______________ to $_______________. It is understood that this is an estimate only, based on the current information known to attorney. Additional information may develop or circumstances may change during the course of this matter which render the estimate obsolete and inaccurate. Attorney will inform the client if and when it appears fees and expenses may substantially exceed the estimate.
GUARANTY. If client is a business entity (corporation, limited liability company, etc.) then the person signing this retainer agreement on behalf of the entity represents that he/she has authority to bind the entity to this agreement and personally guarantees payment of attorney's statements in this matter.
|GENERAL LEGAL MATTERS (Hourly Rate)
|Unless otherwise agreed, most legal matters will be charged at hourly rates as follows:
|Rate for attorney:
|Rate for paralegals and law clerks:
|Minutes converted to billable time:
|01 - 06 minutes = 0.1 hr.
|31 - 36 minutes = 0.6 hr.
|07 - 12 minutes = 0.2 hr.
|37 - 42 minutes = 0.7 hr.
|13 - 18 minutes = 0.3 hr.
|43 - 48 minutes = 0.8 hr.
|19 - 24 minutes = 0.4 hr.
|49 - 54 minutes = 0.9 hr.
|25 - 30 minutes = 0.5 hr.
|55 - 60 minutes = 1.0 hr.
|The following are typical or average fees and fee arrangements for the types of legal matters listed. This list is based on average historical experience and is not a "fee schedule" of actual fees to be charged in new matters. It is provided as a "ballpark" so people will have some idea of the expense that may be involved. Actual fees will vary depending upon the client's individual facts and circumstances. Unless otherwise stated, the following illustrations do not include additional charges for expenses.
|BUSINESS ORGANIZATION (Hourly Rate)
|Estimated fees and expenses:
|Limited Liability Company
|The above estimates are for basic and non-complex business organizations.
|OIL & GAS (Hourly Rate)
|Virtually all oil and gas matters are handled on an hourly fee. The types of services are so variable, depending upon the particular circumstances, that it is virtually impossible to list "typical" charges. The following are merely indicative of the experience of some clients at one time or another.
|Oil & gas lease
|Limited partnership agreement
|Limited liability company
|Incorporation (Small Business)
|Title opinion (from abstracts)
|Title Opinion (local, stand-up)
|Title curative affidavit
|Quiet title suit (default)
|Lease cancellation bench trial
|Subterranean trespass jury trial
|Well location exception (uncontested)
|REAL ESTATE (Hourly Rate)
|Estimated fees (not including consultation time):
|Contract of sale
|Title Opinion (from abstracts)
|Title Opinion (stand-up)
|Review of title insurance policy
|WILLS (Flat Fee/Hourly Rate)
|Simple will for one person
|Simple husband and wife wills
|Other wills at hourly rate
|$ 500.00 - $ 1,500.00