Flat Fee

Under flat fee arrangement the firm is a paid a set price for its work done on behalf of the client.

This type of arrangement is usually appropriate when the client needs simple documents, which are new to them, but very common for the attorney.  The client can get the documents it needs without paying for the attorney to re-invent the wheel.  The flat fee is also regularly used when the client needs criminal defense representation.

The flat fee arrangement is not particularly suited to civil litigation.  The uncertain length of civil cases, which can sometimes take years, makes it extraordinarily difficult to calculate an appropriate flat fee.


Under an hourly fee arrangement the firm is paid a certain rate per hour based upon the time worked on the client’s matter.

The price per hour varies based upon who is performing the work.  More senior attorneys within a firm will have a higher rate per hour than less experienced attorneys.  Firm staff, like paralegals and law clerks, will also have their own rates.  The client does not always need or want the most senior attorney to work on every task.  Cost savings can be achieved by having staff with lower hourly rates perform clerical tasks.

Any type of legal matter can be handled on an hourly basis, but a major determining factor is whether the client can afford the fees as they are incurred.


Under a contingency fee arrangement the firm is paid a certain percentage of the recovery in the client’s case.

Many clients seek legal representation because they have been harmed (financially or otherwise) and they do not necessarily have the resources to pay for an attorney.  The contingency fee arrangement allows those clients to get quality representation and to have their attorneys be paid upon successfully resolving the case.

Contingency percentages vary, but they commonly sit between 33% and 45% for standard personal injury or collection cases.  When the amount in controversy is particularly high, this rate can often be negotiated down.  A law firm taking a contingency fee case should have confidence in their client’s claims, because a loss means that the law firm gets paid nothing for its work.

Criminal cases cannot be taken on a contingency fee basis.


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