Tag Archives: retainer

Is Your Lawyer Just Running Up a Fee?

Lawyers and their fees, the bane of the client’s existence.

Lawyers bill in several ways, most commonly with retainers and hourly billing.  A retainer is unearned money that is placed in the lawyer’s Trust Account.  As the lawyer works on your case, talks to you, meets with you, emails, texts, or thinks about you, the lawyer charges you. As your charged the money is pulled from the Trust Account into the lawyer’s Operating Account.  When the retainer gets low the lawyer sends a nice letter, called a “Replenish Retainer” letter.  It says send more money.  The client then calls and asks “how much is this going to cost me?”  The response is ALWAYS the same, “It depends.”

Another way to bill is Value Pricing, or fixed fee pricing.  This is when there is a pre-negotiated or agreed upon price on the front end of the case.  The client and lawyer agree to the fee, the timing and circumstances under which it is due.  Here the client knows how much it is going to cost them.  In my experience most lawyers do not like this method because “high fees” scare clients away and some lawyers are not comfortable quoting fixed fees because they may limit what they can charge.

There are pros and cons to each method.  The hourly billing method is great if the matter settles quickly, but persons in the position needing lawyers are rarely in the settle-easy category.  The fixed fee method allows you to plan, budget and make a fully informed decision.

Whatever method your lawyer uses, make sure you understand it.  Make sure you appreciate the full cost and expense you are facing.

Thompson Law Firm uses the Value Pricing and fixed fee approach to handling your legal matter.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce and Domestic Relations Attorney in the Magnolia State.  Follow the blog:#BowTieLawyer Visit the website: #Thompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law matter or question at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms

How to Hire an Attorney.

One of the most daunting tasks in a legal situation  is hiring an attorney.  Its is not something you ever look forward to doing, regardless of the reason for why you need an attorney.  But, there are several things you should do before contacting an attorney and several things you should do afterwards.

Pre-Attorney check:

  • Ask your Family.     It is likely someone in  your family, or a close friend, has been through the need for an attorney and used one.  This will help you determine who to use and just as importantly who NOT to use.
  • Ask your Preacher.    Your preacher, pastor, rabbi, etc… may well know who can help you.  Sometimes they are reluctant to get involved as it may pit one parishioner vs. another, however, in my experience they try to steer either one or both to someone equipped to help that particular person.
  • Ask Trusted Professionals.    Your CPA, Banker, Counselor.  They know who has a good reputation in the community and in some instances may have worked with the attorney.
  • Review the Web.  Do they have a web presence? Review their site for content? Review for practice ares; Jack of all trades or limiting their practice?

Interview the Attorney:

  • The Initial Assessment (or consultation, as some attorneys call it) is as much you gathering information on the attorney as the attorney is getting information on, about and from you.
  • Ask about Experience; trial experience, experience in the area of law you seek, experience with the potential judges and counsel-opposite(s).
  • Explain.  See if they can explain the process in English.  I know some big words, but I also know when to use them.
  • Ask about Fees.  Know what a “Retainer” is. (Unearned money which the attorney earns as they work on your case. Typically you are billed for every phone call, email, text, letter, appointment, interview and court appearance).
  • Trust your gut.  Instinct matters.  If you don’t click, don’t have that trust – move on.  There are a lot of attorneys out there.
  • Be smart about it too.  If the attorney can explain it, has the experience and is in your budget, don’t delay taking action, sometimes you have to make the best decision, on the best information available at the time.  (Maybe your gut is wrong….)
  • Be Honest with them.  Every dirty detail.

After the Hire:

  • Be clear on Expectations.
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. (Phone, text, email, as needed)
  • Follow their advice.  That is why you hired them.
  • Give feedback.

This is not a perfect list, but it is some food for thought when hiring an attorney.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that gets hired more often than not.  If you think you need an attorney you probably do.  

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer    Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000