It’s always smart to know as much as you can about how much it will cost to hire a lawyer. If possible, knowing exactly how much it will cost in advance can help you decide how to move forward. Many attorneys will agree to represent a client on “flat fee” basis, and getting a flat fee arrangement with your lawyer can be a great way to insure that you don’t spend more than what is in your budget, so it might be good to ask your potential attorney about flat fees.
What is a flat fee?
Flat fee representation generally means that a lawyer will represent a client for set amount, determined in advance, that will not change. However, typically the flat fee amount is not the only amount that a client will have to pay. In addition to the flat fee rate charged by the lawyer, the client will also likely have to pay “costs.” Costs are fees that are not related to attorneys’ fees, which can include fees for filing, postage, copies, travel, and other costs. Here, if an attorney agrees to represent you on a flat fee basis, you will also have to pay for costs in addition to the flat fee amount.
Complicated cases and complex cases
Now that you have a general understanding of how flat fee services work, understanding the types of cases lawyers are most likely to charge a flat fee in will be helpful. Lawyers are more likely to offer a flat fee rate if the total amount of work that will be involved is known in advance. Generally, an attorney can tell how much work will be involved based on the complexity or potential complexity of the facts in your case.
If your case happens to be complicated, or has the possibility of becoming complicated, it’s less likely that a lawyer will agree to a flat fee arrangement. However, if you case appears to be relatively simple and uncomplicated, if the attorney knows precisely how much work will be involved from the beginning to the end of the matter, it’s possible that a flat fee arrangement will be possible.
Flat fee and the fee agreement
Finally, if your lawyer agrees to a flat fee arrangement, it’s important to make sure that this arrangement is stated in the “fee agreement” you have with your lawyer. Here, the fee agreement should state what is included and what is not included in the flat fee arrangement. The fee agreement should also include the flat fee amount that you will pay for the work that the lawyer will do.
To learn more about flat fee rates, talk to your lawyer.
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Last update: August 2018.