Our goal is to make the pricing for our legal services simple and clear at the beginning of our work with clients. The structure of the fee is often determined by the project. The most common fee structures we use are fixed-price engagements and hourly engagements. Before we start on a project with a client, we establish a basis for how we will charge for services to make sure both the client and our firm is happy with the services to be provided and professional fees to be charged.
The clearer the scope and time needed for a project, the clearer we can be on the price. When we provide estate planning services, we know the different amounts of time it will take us to advise a client on and prepare a power of attorney, health care directive, and will. We also know how much longer it will take us to draft a revocable living trust. If the estate plan needs particular tax provisions, specifications to protect assets after the death of a spouse, or to place restrictions on how assets go to the next generation, we have a good idea of the time needed to incorporate these elements. As such, this allows us to advise on and draft estate planning almost exclusively on a fixed-price basis. The same is true for business formation, such as advising on and setting up LLCs and corporations.
Another fixed-price engagement we provide is consultations. When a potential client is unsure whether and to what extend he or she would like to engage our firm for services, we are able to provide a consultation for a fixed-price. Depending on the nature of the matter to be discussed and preparation needed, the cost for a single consultation is normally between $350-750.
Some projects vary significantly in the amount of time and effort needed to complete. Negotiating the sale and purchase of one business might take half the amount of time needed to sell a different business, or it might take ten times the amount of time depending on the complexity of the business and the negotiation of the business and legal points between the buyers and sellers. These engagements are normally structured to have the fees charged based upon the hours worked by the members of your legal team. Probate and trust administrations are projects that also vary significantly in how much time is required in different cases, and so are also done as hourly engagements.
When projects are done on an hourly basis, our goal is to have those team members with lower billing rate complete as much of the project as possible with the supervision of the team members with higher billing rates. This helps both keep the price of services lower and allows each team member to work on the services best matched to his or her skills.
There are also projects that have a mix of pieces where some are clear in the amount of time, effort, and expertise needed to complete and other pieces vary. Going back to the estate planning example, we know what is needed to complete the advising, drafting, and execution of a trust for a client, though it much more difficult to estimate the amount of time needed to transfer a client’s assets into the trust. This results in us providing a hybrid fee where we charge a fixed-price for the advising, drafting, and execution of the trust and an hourly engagement for the funding.
Advanced Fee Deposits and Retainers.
An advanced fee deposit, also known as a retainer, from a client helps an attorney know he or she will be paid for the legal services provided. The advanced fee deposit is placed in a special account by the lawyer, which can then be applied against a client’s invoice for services performed. We use advanced fee deposits in two ways. The first way is to apply the advanced fee deposit for services when performed and then have the advanced fee deposit replenished. For example, if you provided an advanced fee deposit of $2,500 and then we provided services of $1,000 we would transfer $1,000 of the advanced fee deposit from our special client account to our operating account and then ask you to replenish the advanced fee deposit with $1,000 to get it back to the $2,500 level. The second say we use an advanced fee deposit is by holding to apply against the final invoice for the project and having you pay the invoices contemporaneously. Going back to the previous example, if you provided an advanced fee deposit of $2,500 and then $1,000 of services were provided, we would send you an invoice for the $1,000 and have that paid by you, keeping the advanced fee deposit for a later invoice.
We appreciate being paid for the legal services that we provide. As such, we try to make it easy for clients to pay for our services. We accept cash, checks, and credit cards. We do not charge any additional fee for paying by credit card, though if you are able to pay with a check we are appreciative. We also understand the joy of taking a nice vacation with miles and points earned by using a credit card.