Fees, costs and initial consultations
My fee arrangements and policies are flexible, but following are my standard practices:
- For most of my work I charge an hourly rate, billed in increments of 1/10 of an hour, plus out of pocket costs.
- All initial consultations are free until we reach agreement on fees. When you call me before I’ve agreed to represent you, and we speak on the phone, you won’t be running up a bill. Generally, there comes a time when I will tell you directly that, from that point forward, I will need to be on the clock and you will start incurring fees. At that point, you can either agree to that or not.
- I will generally speak to a prospective client on the phone without charge for at least a few minutes, and usually much longer, in order to determine what kind of problem you have and whether I think I can help you. Often, if it’s not a matter where I think I’ll be able to help you, but there is some obvious advice I can give, I will give it, no charge. If it’s a potential contingency fee case, I will consult with you until I either decide I want to offer to represent you or decide that I do not. In either case no obligation for fees is incurred. If the matter is a potential hourly fee case, I often do not bill for the first half-hour to an hour, and sometimes more, while I am learning about and analyzing your case. So, while I do not promise a “free consultation” of any definite length, you can call me and I will discuss your situation without charge for so long as I think it is productive and worthwhile. Again, there’s no obligation until we come to an agreement.
- I generally expect to handle plaintiff employment claims on contingency. That means that the client does not owe me fees unless I recover money or obtain some other agreed-upon result, such as reinstatement to employment. However, I expect even my contingency-fee employment plaintiffs to pay out-of-pocket costs as they are incurred in the course of the suit, though there are rare exceptions. I will discuss the amounts and timing of anticipated costs when we discuss your case. By way of example, however, the initial filing fee for a lawsuit in Circuit Court is $400.00, and the fee for having the initial suit papers served is usually around $40.00. I expect the client to furnish funds for these fees before I file suit.
- I sometimes agree to take non-employment cases on contingency, but I generally expect them to be hourly. I am sometimes open to “blended” fee arrangements, where I am paid at a reduced hourly rate as the case progresses, plus a percentage of the recovery at the end in the event of a successful outcome. Generally, these are business litigation cases where I feel the merits of the case are particularly strong, and the client is unable to reasonably afford full hourly rates.
- I will often propose a flat fee for reviewing a contract, rarely in other circumstances, and virtually never for a litigation matter.