Some lawyers, notably those who handle personal injury cases, do not charge for initial consultations. Occasionally, employment lawyers do not charge for their first consultation with a potential client. However, Alan Banov & Associates always charges a fee for initial consultations. The current rate will be quoted to you on the telephone when you call to tell us about your problem. (Our standard rates are presently $370 per hour for services rendered by Mr. Banov, $150 per hour for services rendered by Mr. Ndjatou, and $90 per hour for our law clerks’ services.) We charge a fee for our initial consultation because it is valuable to the prospective clients and educates us about their cases. At the end of the consultation, the client will receive a typed memorandum which summarizes our ideas about the merits (or lack of merit) of the case, gives advice, may perhaps identify more information which might be needed for a better case evaluation, and states how much future services will cost.
Retainer or Fee Agreements
For any services of a substantial nature, when the client decides to hire us, we require payment of a retainer or fee advance (the amount depending mostly on how much work we are expected to perform in the future and partially on the client’s ability to advance us money towards future services) and we will prepare a written retainer or fee agreement
See below, Hourly Rate Agreements, for more about retainers and trust accounts.
Contingent Fee Agreements
A contingency fee agreement is one which says that the client does not have to pay for our legal services unless and until there is an award of money made to client by the opposing party, whether by settlement agreement or by court order. Such agreements stipulate that we would receive an agreed upon share (1/4, 1/3, or possibly more) of the client's recovery, in compensation for services rendered.
Contingency fee agreements are commonplace in personal injury cases (auto accidents, slip and fall cases, etc.), especially when it is clear that the other party was liable for negligence. They are rarer in employment cases. Because liability is not often clear in employment cases, Alan Banov & Associates hardly ever takes such cases on a contingency fee basis. (Also, sometimes what the client wants is not any money, but some sort of non-monetary benefit, such as continued employment, a better performance appraisal, or an end to harassment).
Even in contingency-fee cases, the client still must pay for the expenses of the case. In court cases, these include court filing fees, process servers, depositions, expert witnesses, copies, postage, messengers, and investigation expenses.
Hourly Rate Agreements
In almost all of our cases, we charge the client by the hour for our legal services. When we do, we keep track of our exact times and bill clients at an hourly rate, generally in increments of one tenth (0.1) of an hour. The hourly rate will be quoted to the prospective client on the phone and will be included in the memorandum the client will receive at the end of the first consultation. The rate will also be stated in our
When we agree to represent a client by the hour, we require a fee advance (or "retainer") up-front before beginning work. The amount of the fee advance, which is meant to be fair to both parties in light of the amount of work to be done, will be discussed in the first consultation and will be quoted in the memorandum we give the client after it. (Where possible, the post-consultation memorandum and the fee agreement will give rough estimates of the range of fees anticipated for the client's case.) Fee advances are placed in a special account (called a Trust Account) and are drawn upon as the client incurs fees and expenses. The money is the client's until the work is done; if we do not need all of the fee advance, the balance will be returned to the client at the end of our representation. The fee agreement will provide that the client will make monthly payments to us, usually starting the month after paying the fee advance and generally by the tenth of each month.
Under hourly fee agreements, the client will be billed monthly for our services and expenses. The bills will show which attorney did what particular work, the amount of time spent for each service, the amounts paid by the client during the month, the balance in the client's account (if any), and any amounts due from the client. We usually send the statements out right after the first of each month.
We pass onto our clients the costs of representing them, including the following: postage (at actual cost); copies (at cost or at 25 cents each for copies made in the office); transportation (at cost); court filing fees ($5 to $150); LEXIS on-line legal research (at approx. cost); service of process (where applicable); and expert witness fees. You may have none of these costs, or you may have more costs.
See As We Work Together for further insider tips as
we pursue your case.