Attorney fees is one of those topics that no one enjoys discussing, but an important subject to discuss early on when retaining an attorney. In most situations attorney’s fees are covered by the “American Rule”, which, contrasted with the “English Rule,” means that each party is responsible for paying for their own attorney’s fees whether they win or lose in litigation. Under the English Rule, if you prevail litigation, the other party is often responsible for paying your attorney’s fees.
However, there are a number of scenarios, whether created statutorily in state or federal law, or contractually, whereby cost and fees may be able to be shifted to the losing party when you win. We will always do our best to take advantage of means to shift fees to the other side if you have a case that is a good case, but you need to be aware that shifting fees to the losing party is the exception rather than the rule.
We are always willing to explore alternative fee arrangements, including contingent or partially contingent arrangements, and flat or fixed fees. Most of our representation is for an hourly rate. Before we will consider taking a case as a contingent case, there need to be a number of factors to support taking a contingent case. First, there needs to be a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. If you are not more likely to win than not, we are unlikely to risk taking your case. Next, there needs to be a significant amount of damages to support a contingent award, or an ability to shift fees to the other side when you prevail. Finally, the party bringing the case against needs to have assets, insurance, or other means to cover the damages award or the shifting of fees.
What are our hourly rates? Well, to a certain extent our hourly rates depend on the experience of the attorney working on the case and the nature of the matter. Certain matters, such as federal court litigation, or federal appeals tend to have a level of complication that will require a higher hourly rate. Because we are a small firm, our lower overhead allows us to charge lower rates then some of the larger firms for comparable legal representation. We will be happy to discuss our rates when we discuss representing you. However, be forewarned that if you’re looking for the lowest cost hourly attorney, we will likely not be that attorney. Don’t forget, however that an hourly rate alone tells you very little – one attorney might take 10 hours to do something that another attorney, because of expertise and experience, will accomplish in but 2 hours.
We are selective in the cases we take, and are always looking to work with the client to make sure that there is a reasonable return on investment when the client is paying for legal fees, and will often advise a client if we do not believe a case is worth bringing, even if the client is still willing to pay to bring the case. We strive to always provide excellent value when providing legal services.
We are always up front in discussing the potential exposure and costs involved in bringing a case – over time we have found that its always better to count the cost sup front, even when that means we lose work – instead of getting into a case, without the client knowing up front the likely exposure and cost of bringing the case.