In the legal industry, it’s common for attorneys to hide the ball when it comes to their fees and pricing structure. Most attorneys don’t publish their rates online, they often won’t provide quotes over the phone, and they require you to have an in-person consultation prior to explaining their fees. These sales tactics often waste time and give the attorney an unfair negotiating advantage.
I take a more transparent approach, which is why you can find an outline of my pricing schedule for appellate cases right here on my website. Of course, it’s impossible to account for all possible situations when pricing legal services, but hopefully the explanations provided below will give you a solid idea of how much your legal services are likely to cost.
My pricing generally falls into three categories: (1) the initial consultation; (2) an hourly rate; or (3) a flat fee. The cost to retain me will depend on which pricing category applies. Most of the time, my clients are permitted to choose in advance whether they prefer a flat fee or an hourly rate. For complex cases where the required tasks are difficult to estimate, my representation is undertaken at my hourly rate.
I do not take appellate cases on a contingent fee basis.
I provide a one-hour initial consultation at a discounted rate of $150.00. The initial consultation is an opportunity for us to discuss your case and determine whether I would be a good fit for your potential appeal. During that time, you can explain the relevant facts and legal arguments that could help support an appeal, and I can explain the terms of my representation in the event I agree to take your case.
This consultation can be considered a mutual interview. You should ask yourself whether I am the right lawyer for you, and I will gather facts about your case to determine whether I am the right person to assist you. I sincerely value the opportunity to get to know my clients and their case during this time.
It might sound like I am a little picky about the cases I take. The truth is: I am. The quality of my work is important to me. I simply do not take a case unless I believe my representation could benefit the client. If I believe a different attorney might be a better fit, I will refer the case out. I believe this approach is an essential part of any client-centered practice.
Please note that the initial consultation does not create an attorney-client agreement. Rather, it is a time for us to determine whether forming that relationship would be a good idea. I do not undertake representation until a written agreement is signed and any retainer or flat fee is fully paid.
Normal Hourly Rate
Like most lawyers, I undertake a majority of my cases on an hourly basis. This means that I charge my clients based on the amount of time I spend working on their project. I charge my time in minimum units of one-tenth of an hour.
If you wish to hire me on an hourly basis, my hourly rate is $325.00. The time charged at my hourly rate includes the time I spend performing all case- or client-related tasks, including:
Researching legal issues.
Reviewing the lower court transcripts.
Writing and preparing legal briefs, motions, petitions, or other court filings.
Engaging in case-related communications, including telephone calls and e-mails.
Requesting extensions of time.
Reviewing opposing briefs.
Preparing for and attending oral argument, if necessary.
Traveling to and from court appearances.
My hourly rate includes only the costs of my services. It does not cover other expenses that may be incurred during the course of representation. Those other costs are explained below.
Clients that choose to hire me on an hourly basis must pay a retainer deposit before I begin working on the case. A retainer deposit is a fee that serves as an advance payment for my services. I keep the unearned portion of the retainer deposit in a client trust account, then deduct from that account in periodic intervals after I have billed and invoiced hours in the case.
Importantly, the retainer is fully refundable to the extent it is not earned by me during the course of representation. So, if at the end of your case there is unearned money leftover from the retainer deposit, you are entitled to receive that amount back. However, if the retainer balance gets low or is depleted during the course of my representation, I reserve the right to request that it be replenished.
If you choose to hire me, my required retainer deposit usually starts at $9,000, which is often the lower-end of what a full appeal would cost. The actual amount of the retainer required on your case, however, will depend on the amount of time I expect to spend on your appeal. It is rare for a full appeal to take less than 30 attorney hours, so a $9,000 retainer deposit represents a baseline for the cost of most appeals.
Fixed or Flat Fee Agreements
Many clients dislike hourly pricing models. On the one hand, hiring me at my hourly rate ensures that the cost of your appeal accurately reflects the attorney time spent on the case. But on the other hand, an hourly rate can create uncertainty about the actual cost of an appeal. Often, clients cannot know whether an appeal is economically viable before they know the likely fixed cost of the appeal.
To better assist clients with these concerns, I am often willing to take appellate cases on a flat fee basis. In a flat fee situation, I would perform all work in the case for a specific fixed total cost. We would agree, in advance, on the exact amount of that fee. That amount would remain the same throughout the case regardless of how much time I actually spend. This can protect clients against the potential risk that attorney time in a case might be greater than anticipated. But it could disadvantage clients whose appeal takes less time than anticipated.
The actual amount of my flat fee will depend on the time I expect to spend on the case. My flat fee general starts at around $9,000. If the case involves numerous issues, complex issues, or a long lower court transcript, my fee could be much higher than this base amount. But, at the same time, if the case involves a very simple, straight-forward issue and a short trial court transcript, my flat fee could potentially be lower than this base amount.
Importantly, the fixed fee includes only the costs of my services. It does not cover other expenses that may be incurred during the course of representation. Those other costs are explained below.
If you choose to retain on a flat fee basis, the entire fee must be paid before I am retained. I do not provide financing options. Additionally, because it does not matter how much time I spend on your case in this pricing structure, I do not track my hours when the case is undertaken on a flat fee basis.
In almost every appeal, there are costs beyond attorney fees. This can include:
Expert and consultant fees (if necessary).
Investigation expenses (if necessary).
And any other non-attorney expenses that might be incurred during the process of representation.
My hourly rate and flat fee packages do not include these costs. Accordingly, if you choose to retain me, you must agree to pay these other costs, separate and apart from the attorney fees described above. If you choose to retain my on an hourly basis, however, I will often be willing to simply deduct these costs from the retainer deposit if the costs are small.