I offer free initial consultations for criminal, estate planning, and unemployment benefits matters, and charge a $75 fee for most other matters. I will tell you before we meet whether you will be charged for the consultation. An initial consultation will generally last between half an hour and an hour, depending on the complexity of your case. The purpose of an initial consultation is to determine the best way to proceed, and give you some direction for the short-term.
Types of Fees
Depending on the type of case, I will charge either a flat fee or an hourly fee. With a flat fee, you know exactly how much you will pay. With an hourly fee, you will pay for exactly the amount of work an attorney performs on your case. I generally charge flat fees for misdemeanor criminal defense and estate planning, and hourly fees for most other matters such as juvenile dependency. Administrative appeals will be either hourly or flat, depending on where you are in the process.
Advanced Fee Deposit for Hourly Fees
If you are paying hourly, you will need to deposit some amount of money in advance of those hourly fees being earned by the attorney. I generally require you to deposit ten hours worth of funds. Your deposit will be placed in a trust account at a bank until it is earned. As work is performed on your case, fees will be withdrawn from that trust account to pay for the work performed. If the fees are more than what you have on deposit, you will have to make up the difference. If the fees are less than what you have on deposit at the conclusion of the case, any unearned fees will be refunded to you. You will need to keep a certain amount of money on deposit for the lawyer to draw from. The lawyer will provide you with a full accounting of what fees are withdrawn and what work was done for it.
An advanced fee deposit is often mistakenly called a “retainer.” A retainer is a fee you pay to a lawyer simply to keep that lawyer available to represent you in the future. It does not pay for actual work the lawyer does, nor will you get any sort of refund. Actual “retainers” are rarely charged by attorneys.
Flat Fees are not advanced fee deposits. Rather, a flat fee is a one-time fee that is considered earned by the attorney upon receipt, for a specific legal service. For example, an attorney may charge a single flat fee to represent a client in a DUI case up to the point of trial. The fee is not placed into a trust account, and you will not receive a refund of any portion. On the other hand, you will not be charged any additional legal fees if the case takes more time than is expected, although there may be expenses involved.
A client will be expected to pay any expenses associated with representation. These expenses will be in addition to the fee for legal services. Expenses include such things as filing fees, fees to prepare transcripts for an appeal, postage, copies, expert witness fees, just to name a few. If you are paying hourly, and have made an advance fee deposit, the attorney will usually pay for these fees on your behalf and withdraw funds from your money in trust to pay for them. If you pay a flat fee, you will either have to pay expenses directly or may be required to deposit money in trust in order to cover anticipated expenses.
How much will my case cost?
It’s impossible to say what kind of legal fees you should expect to pay without some detailed information about your case. Some cases are more complicated than others, and require more work, and are therefore more expensive. On the other hand, some matters require little work and are proportionally less expensive. The only way to get a good idea is to call for an initial consultation and discuss your case.
You may have coverage for some legal matters if your employer participates in ARAG Legal Solutions. Check with your employer or with ARAG, 800-247-4184.
Please let me know if you need to arrange a payment plan, or some other form of payment. I am happy to work with you, and don’t want your financial situation to prevent you from having quality legal representation. I accept cash or check, and can also accept credit cards for flat fee services and initial consultations. I cannot accept credit cards for advanced fee deposits.