Attorney Fees

In Family Law, attorney fees generally have a retainer and an hourly rate.

Retainer

A retainer is an amount that is advanced to the attorney from which the attorney draws upon as the fee is earned. For example, an attorney who receives a $5,000 at the beginning of the case and does $1,000 worth of work in the first month, would draw the latter amount from the retainer as a fee, leaving $4,000 as the client's retainer.

Many retainers are "evergreen".  This means that each month, the retainer needs to be replenished to the original retainer amount. In the example above, the client would need to provide the attorney with an additional $1,000 at the end of the first month to bring the retainer back up to $5,000.

My retainers are evergreen and tend to range from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the circumstances of the case and the client. Also, unlike many firms, I do take credit cards.

 

Rates

Family law attorneys usually bill around $200 an hour on up. Portions of the hour are usually incrementally adjusted upward on a 1/10, 1/6 or 1/4 basis.  For example, an attorney makes a 3 minute phone call related to a case. If a 1/10 increment is applied, then the phone call is billed as 6 minutes (because 6 minutes is 1/10 of an hour). If a 1/6 or 1/4 increment is used, then the call is billed as 10 minutes and 15 minutes respectively. As you can see, the 1/10 increment saves the client the most money.

I use the 1/10 increment and generally charge $200-$250 depending on the case and circumstances.

By the way, good luck finding an explanation of fees on other attorney sites - For some reason most attorneys just don't like to advertise their fees or how they bill. But now you know.

 

Fixed Fees

Fixed fees are an agreed-upon fixed amount to provide services. An example would be an agreement for the attorney to represent you in a protection order hearing for $2,000. These tend not to be too common in family law, but they do exist. I provide these again depending on the case and circumstances.

 

Unbundled Services/Fees

Getting unbundled services from an attorney is akin to ordering a la carte from a restaurant. Not all law firms provide this option. However, it may be appropriate where you need an attorney to handle parts but not all of your case, either because you feel confident that you can handle the rest or simply don't have the funds for full representation. I provided these services depending on the case and circumstances.

1 Comment

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