During the initial consultation, the Firm will agree upon a fee arrangement and sign a contract for legal assistance detailing what services we are to perform for the client and how much the client will be charged for those services.
We use the following types of fee arrangements: flat fees, hourly fees, contingency fees and combination fees. The type of fee arrangement depends on the nature of the matter in question and on the type of the Firm's engagement, that is whether it is for a single task or representation for a certain period of time. The last one is often called retainer agreement.
When the Firm enters into retainer agreement with a client, it binds the Firm to the client and prohibits us from representing the client's competitors. This kind of agreement guarantees that the Firm will be available to represent the client whenever the client needs legal services. Retainer agreements are concluded for a certain period of time, typically for a year. Additional fees beyond the retainer may be required when a matter is to go to court.
Flat fees, sometimes called fixed fees, are usually used for standard services allowing a lawyer to fairly accurately predict the amount of time needed to handle the matter. These typically include setting up a legal person (a company, partnership, an NGO), preparing routine agreements and other legal documents. When we agree to a flat fee, we usually do not ask for any further legal fees and thus any expenses (long distance phone or fax charges, travel expenses, expert witness fees, etc.) incurred under flat fee arrangements are still the client's responsibility.
Hourly fees are used because most legal matters are much more complicated than they may first appear. Some of the many unpredictable factors that the Firm has to take into consideration are: level of complexity, need of research into the current state of the law, investigation of the facts, time constraints beyond the Firm's control, etc. The services are paid in advance by an initial minimum fee that prepays for a certain number of hours. Expenses (see below) are separate charges that are not included in the hourly rate or initial retainer.
The client only pays contingency fees when his/her matter has been successfully resolved. We apply this type of fee arrangement to most civil cases, including commercial disputes, employment matters, i.e. when the outcome is not absolutely certain. In such cases, the fee will be a percentage of the recovery. The percentage will depend on a number of factors, including difficulty of the case; prospects of recovery; the likely time and expense required in bringing the case to a close; as well as the particular lawyer's skill and reputation.
Fee agreements often involve elements of more than one of the general types of fee. For example, we may require an initial flat fee, to take a case, and then an additional hourly or contingent fee to handle it to conclusion.
No matter what type of fee arrangement we apply to your particular case, we make sure that the fees are realistic and the service provided is effective.