Legal Services, Expenses Disbursements and getting paid

Book keepers, Billing Solution and payment options for clients

Written by Knowledge Team, posted on December 17, 2018.

Clients must be educated in the payment types available to them for any legal services they avail from a Law firm. Informed clients, presented with payment options when the work is completed, increases law firm’s chances of getting paid on time. This leads to increased client satisfaction and referrals

Payment Plan for Legal Fees

Legal fees is simply the fees charged by the lawyers for the work rendered by them to their clients. There are several ways through which the lawyers get paid based on their type of job. There may be a number of things for which a lawyer may charge including his consultation fee, court costs, reasonable travel and transportation charges, fee to deal with certain matters, percentage charges when a particular case of the client is won, etc. Some lawyers give it in writing regarding their fee structure to the clients while some clients expect their lawyers to explain their fees up front. It is highly important that lawyers set up a clear payment plan with their clients beforehand.

Types of Legal Fees

  • Hourly rate : Hourly rate is the fee that each lawyer charges from his clients on an hourly basis. This type of fee varies from lawyer to lawyer based on the lawyer’s expertise, experience, location, etc. It is not always necessary that hourly rate should be cheaper as high commanding lawyers who charge more will possess expertise in their fields and will be able to achieve quicker results in very less hours than ordinary attorneys charging less per hour. Hence it’s better to consult your lawyer to know the estimate of how many hours they expect to spend on your case.
  • Flat Fees : Flat fees simply means fixed fees. It refers to charging a fixed rate for a pre-defined service. This is one of the best types of alternate fee arrangements as both lawyer and client agree upon a common fee based on the case and this fee will not change no matter what form the case takes up. Flat fee helps you to know the type of expense you are spending for and it is also wise to ask the lawyer exactly what services and expenses are not covered in the flat fee.
  • Consultation Fees : The lawyer may charge a fixed fee for all clients who come to meet him/her for the first time to explain the case and to determine whether the lawyer will be able to assist them with the case. There may be cases where lawyers don’t charge any consultation fee for their initial meeting.
  • Contingency Fees : Contingency fees means the lawyer does not explicitly charge a particular fee at the end of the case but instead earns a percentage of the amount awarded in the case. Contingency fee can generally be negotiated as certain percentage or portion of the settlement. But if the case is lost, the lawyer does not get any fee but will still want to be paid for certain expenses. Contingency fee percentages vary based on the case’s profitable settlements and the negotiations between the client and the lawyer. A one-third fee is common. Contingency fee arrangements are quite common in cases where huge amount of money is involved such as accident or personal injury cases, property damage cases and other such related cases.
  • Retainer Fees : Retainer fee is something like an advancement made for the lawyer’s fee, similar to down payment. The retainer is usually put into a special account and the lawyer deducts the cost incurred for the case from that account as and when needed. In most cases, the retainer fee is non-refundable unless the fee is deemed unreasonable by the court. The usage of retainer fee by the lawyer can be reviewed by the client through the account, periodically. It’s better for lawyers and clients to have discussion and clarification on retainer fee arrangement in detail.
  • Filing Fees : Various fees can be incurred based on the procedures you file in the court. And the courts generally expect the court filing charges be paid prior to initiating a court procedure. If the lawyer represents you in these court proceeding, then you may have to pay the filing fee or other court costs to the lawyer in charge.
  • Referral Fees : A lawyer may refer you to another lawyer under certain circumstances and may ask for a referral fee in this case. This may be the portion of the total fee incurred for the case. Referral fees may not be allowed or will be restricted under applicable state codes unless certain criteria are met. Just like other fees, the referral fee must be reasonable and must be agreed between the client and the lawyer based on the rules of the state to make further arrangements.

General guidelines about Legal Fee Payments

  • No matter which type of legal fee is being agreed upon between client and lawyer, it’s always better to get it in writing the proof of the fee agreement.
  • In addition to a lawyer's fees, a client may be expected to pay certain expenses such as long distance telephone charges, photocopying or courier charges, transportation charges etc.
  • Clients can demand and the lawyer should be willing to provide explanations for their charges with the bills.
  • Clients have to ensure that they are not taken by surprise with the hidden costs of expenses. Hence it’s better to discuss them with their lawyer before hiring them.
  • It is important for clients to ask for specifications in case the bill seems unclear in some area.
  • Clients have to understand that lawyers may charge hybrid fee arrangements such as Fixed Fee plus Hourly, Fixed Fee plus Contingency or Hourly Rate Plus Contingency or anything of these kinds.
  • In all types of legal fee payments clients should ask what costs and other expenses are covered in the fee.

Getting paid

As with types of legal fees, attorneys can offer options for the clients to pay. Online Payment is the most convenient way for the Law firms to collect the fees. Most of the practice management solution provides integrated payment gateway with full distinction between Client Account and Office Accounts

PageLightPrime for All

Legal Fee Payments are a vital part of many law firms. Choosing the right software, with good Time and Expense Tracking feature is an essential step towards making a perfect plan for Legal Fee Payment. PageLightPrime assists attorneys with time tracking, capturing expenses, improving billable hours, sending out invoices and getting paid faster. Whatever may be the type of payment, PageLightPrime’s modern Legal Billing Software can act your virtual bookkeeper and reduces the time spent on billing and simplifies the efforts involved thereby making it easier and simpler for the attorneys. Any type of firm, any type of legal fee, PageLightPrime got you covered
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