Good trial lawyers are flexible. If you don’t bend with and adapt to a twist or turn in the litigation, it can sink a case. Johnson Marlowe LLP extends this flexibility principle to billing arrangements. A contingent-fee or other incentive-based billing may make sense to one client, but a flat fee will be a better fit for another. Others may prefer traditional, hourly rate billing. Whatever the preference, we work with all prospective clients, business and otherwise, to get a fee agreement in place that satisfies, and is fair to, both client and lawyer. Available options include:
Traditional Hourly Rate. Most of our clients are billed at our standard hourly rates. Our attorney fees are the time we spend on the matter multiplied by our hourly rates. Under this scenario, a client receives a monthly bill for the services that the firm provided to the client the prior month.
Flat Fee. Flat fee arrangements allow a client to know what our fees will be on the front-end of the engagement and to budget accordingly. In a flat-fee arrangement, the client’s fee is not tied to the number of hours that the lawyers work on the client’s behalf; instead, the client agrees to pay a set fee, irrespective of time, for a defined project. To avoid an unfair outcome for client or lawyer, the case may be broken down into specific segments (e.g., initial investigation and planning, preparing pleadings, discovery and related motions, motion for summary judgment, trial preparation and trial, and appeal) that are priced separately. Some projects lend themselves more to flat fees than others; the most important factor is the predictability of the likely time investment. As discussed below, we will always consider decreasing a guaranteed flat fee payment in exchange for an appropriate incentive-based payment.
Incentive-Based Billing and Contingency Fees. Incentive billing comes in two forms. In some cases, our client is plaintiff or is defendant but has a claim for money damages against the plaintiff. When we are seeking to recover money for a client, we will consider handling the case on a contingent-fee basis, i.e., providing services in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the amount of money that we recover on the client's behalf. In others, we will handle the case for a reduced hourly rate or decreased flat fee, and in exchange for the reduction, the client will enhance the fee if certain conditions are met. For example, we may agree to handle a case for a flat fee of $25,000, instead of the $75,000 it would normally command, if the client will agree to pay a set bonus if we get the lawsuit dismissed or meet other goals that we jointly identify.
However we bill for our services, transparency is king. We want you to know exactly what it is that we are doing to advance your matter on a monthly basis. You will receive a statement every month with itemized time and expense entries. Those itemized statements are not “available upon request” like at some other firms; they are provided to you as a matter of course, and if you have a question or concern about one, then you can call us directly.
We specialize in complex disputes and high-stakes litigation. The reality is that, to be handled correctly, those matters require a substantial time investment. And, as we all know, time is money, whether you are being billed by the hour or not. For those billed by the hour, we will always provide a time and cost projection upon request and, without advance notice, stay within your litigation budget.
We know that although outcomes are what matter most, how you get there is also very important, so we promise our clients two things in that regard. First, you will always have the information, including fees-related information, that you need to fully evaluate your litigation options. Second, we will try to get you the best result we can under the circumstances and to do it as efficiently as we possibly can.