Lawyers get paid in a variety of ways – hourly, contingent, flat fee or a combination of some or all. Clients have the right to accept or reject the method of payment offered by their lawyer. No matter which type of fee agreed upon between you and your lawyer, always obtain proof of the agreement in writing.
Most states have ethics rules that govern lawyer conduct including the payment of their fees. Generally, lawyers are forbidden from charging excessive fees. Most states have ethical rules that require all fees charged by lawyers be reasonable. Lawyers are forbidden from sharing or splitting fees with non-lawyers.
When you decide to entrust Bonsignore Trial Lawyers to represent you, a formal contract is created and signed by both parties. This agreement sets forth what will be expected from both the firm and the client as we prepare a winning case for you in court, as well as detail fees and costs after settlement of a successful trial. We provide our personal cell phone numbers to make reaching us as easy as possible 24/7. We place a very high priority on being responsive to you and your business throughout the litigation process.
A retention agreement memorializes the formal relationship between the client and the lawyer. A retention agreement sets forth the form and method of payment, the scope of representation, and the rights and responsibilities of both the client and the lawyer. Bonsignore Trial Lawyers always provide written retention agreements. Retention Agreements come in many forms. They include but are not limited to:
CONTINGENT FEE AGREEMENTS
Under a contingency fee agreement the lawyer charges no set fee and instead earns a percentage of the settlement or judgment, if any is awarded. If there is no recovery, the lawyer receives nothing and absorbs all related fees. Contingency fees typically range from range from 25% to 40% of the recovery, plus expenses. In most cases, the reimbursement of costs is conditioned on a recovery also. Rarely in high-risk cases or large-scale business disputes sometimes the Client is asked to contribute case costs.
CLASS ACTION CONTINGENT FEE AGREEMENTS
Under a Class Action contingency fee agreement the lawyer charges no set fee and instead may be awarded fees after a settlement or judgment. If there is no recovery, the lawyer receives nothing and absorbs all related fees. Contingency fees typically range from range from 25% to 38% of the recovery. The lawyers may also request case costs.
While it is necessary for the client and their lawyers to enter into a Retention Agreement, it is the Court that eventually awards fees and costs, if any. In every class action, before even considering such a request, the Court will require notice of the intent to request fees and costs be given to the class. All class members are given an opportunity to object to the award of attorney fees and costs. Prior to awarding costs the Court will require the lawyers to submit detailed time and cost records. The Court will then scrutinize them before making an award. The Court will base the award of attorney fees on a set of considerations adopted by various courts of appeal.
HOURLY FEE AGREEMENTS
Under an hourly fee retention agreement the client is responsible to pay for the lawyer’s time as it accrues. Generally hourly rates depend on the experience of the attorney, the market, and complexity of the case. Bonsignore Trial Lawyers bill in 1/10th of an hour increments, not by the quarter of the hour as many firms do. Bonsignore Trial Lawyers also believe that regular billing statements must be sent to the clients describing, in detail, what was done and the related charge.
FLAT FEE AGREEMENTS
Under a flat rate retention agreement the client pays an agreed upon flat fee for an agreed-upon and limited service. Examples include a will, a simple corporation, defense of a minor criminal charge etc. Flat fees are usually charged when the services being provided are predictable
A retainer is a deposit on fees. A retainer is usually refundable if not used by the lawyer. Bonsignore Trial Lawyers believe that money paid, as a retainer must be kept in a trust account and only be drawn on by the attorney as fees are earned. Bonsignore Trial Lawyers also believe that regular billing statements must be sent to the clients describing in detail what was done, what was the related charge and how much is left on the retainer.
The general American Rule is that each side pays its own legal fees in litigation. However, there are several exceptions to this and fee shifting (to the losing side) is sometimes possible. Bonsignore Trial Lawyers often seek to have attorney fees and cost paid by in antitrust, consumer protection, and other cases. We will let you know up front whether we will seek a fee shifting exception in your case.
No matter which type of fee agreed upon between you and your lawyer, always obtain proof of the agreement in writing.