Fixed Fee Family Law Legal Agreements

When hiring a lawyer for family law litigation, clients usually pay for his or her time by the hour. Generally, a client pays a retainer fee up front which the attorney bills from hourly. Then the client is sent a monthly bill after the attorney has earned over the amount the client paid into the retainer fee. Fixed fee billing for legal services offers a potentially more cost-effective alternative. In this type of agreement, a client pays an up-front cost for representation for a specific legal action such as a guardianship or an uncontested divorce proceeding. Following are five reasons clients may consider a fixed fee agreement for a family law case.

Fixed Fee Family Law Legal Agreements

1. Clients can plan for how much the bill costs ahead of time. A fixed fee agreement allows the client to know how much the matter is going to cost beforehand. This differs from hourly billing, which requires the client to pay a retainer up front at the time the attorney is hired and to pay any bills that come due after the retainer fee has been exhausted. Both the lawyer and the client know what to expect in terms of payment when a fixed fee agreement is utilized.

2. Fixed fee billing promotes efficiency. The client pays the lawyer for the work the lawyer agrees to actually accomplish, not the amount of time spent on the work. While no lawyer can guarantee results, fixed fee billing allows the client to pay for a specific service for the fixed price up front. The lawyer is encouraged to work with the client to move toward an efficient resolution.

3. Fixed fee billing encourages the use of time-saving technology. The use of technology can save time and money for both the client and attorney. Doing things the old-fashioned way can drive up the cost of legal services, especially when the client is paying an hourly rate. Attorneys can use technology such as e-filing and online accounts for client review to save the time and money. For example, a lawyer may utilize online case management systems so clients can review their case online to reduce the need for in-person meetings with the lawyer.

4. A fixed fee billing agreement promotes the free flow of communication between the attorney and client. When a client pays an agreed fee up front, the client no longer has to worry about watching the clock when talking to the lawyer. Communication between the lawyer and client is important to make sure that there are no surprises. Good communication increases the chance of a successful result in court.

5. A fixed fee agreement means no more monthly billing. Clients who sign up for an hourly billing arrangement may be surprised when the bill comes each month. When a client can’t pay the bill that comes, there is a risk that the attorney will threaten to stop working on the case and file a motion to withdraw as counsel. A fixed fee agreement with payment up front eliminates that risk.

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