When you begin the process of hiring a lawyer, it’s understandable to be concerned how much it will cost. If you haven’t hired a family law attorney before, you’re sure to have many questions:
There are several factors that go into determining the length of time that your case will run and the path you will ultimately take.
Although an hourly rate makes it difficult to predict the total cost of the litigation, the advantage of an hourly rate is that you are not paying for more time than is necessary.
Compare that to a flat fee where the initial retainer is higher because it includes most services that can be anticipated. The advantage of a flat fee is that it is easier to predict the total cost of the litigation upfront, which is especially helpful if you are going to get financing for the attorney fees.
Because divorce and child custody cases are frequently emotionally charged, it is difficult to estimate a set number of hours your case will require.
For this reason many attorneys choose to bill you at an hourly rate, rather than a set fee.
Flat fee billing means that you may not be charged extra for telephone calls, emails, letters, or attorney-client meetings. The goal of flat fee billing is to bring your situation to a conclusion as quickly and efficiently as possible without letting your finances dictate how much time and advice you receive from your attorney.
Steven R Jacob Attorney-at-Law charges a flat fee initial retainer along with a schedule of additional flat fee charges if additional services are needed.
As a client considering a flat-fee lawyer, it’s important to remember that you’re not looking for the cheapest way out – you’re looking for value. Instead of trying to drive down attorney fees and get the lowest estimate possible, look for a win-win situation to maintain a proper alignment of incentives.
Predictability. You’ll know upfront what the fee is for each service – no surprises. This simplifies your budgeting and avoids the risk of a huge, unanticipated bill.
Speed and efficiency. The traditional billable hour creates the incentive for attorneys to spend more time on the matter than to complete the task (which at many law firms is compounded by the associate bonus structure, often based on the number of hours billed). A flat-fee lawyer does not have this incentive. Your legal service provider is now best served by coming up with more efficient strategies for completing the project. Such strategies can include office systems, delegation of tasks, or implementing technology.
The initial retainer for a flat fee is higher than an hourly rate retainer because the flat fee includes most services that can be anticipated. The advantage of a flat fee is that it is easier to predict the total cost of the litigation upfront, which is especially helpful if you are going to get financing for the attorney fees.
Typical flat fee agreement covers:
$1500 plus court filing fee: Uncontested case (full agreement and cooperation on all issues from start to finish), no minor children, no joint assets, and no joint debt.
$2500 plus court filing fee: Uncontested case (full agreement and cooperation on all issues from start to finish), no children but some financial terms need to be addressed such as what happens to real estate, bank accounts, autos or there is an agreement for money to be paid from one spouse to the other.
$3500 plus court filing fee: Uncontested case (full agreement and cooperation on all issues from start to finish) with minor children. Custody, parenting schedules, child support, division of assets and debts, and everything else has been agreed on.
$7500 plus out of pocket costs: Contested case (if there are any terms on which the parties do not agree such as custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, how to divide assets or debts.) Additional charges apply to specific events that will be defined in the attorney fee agreement.
If you cannot afford or get financing for full-service legal representation, then you may consider Unbundled Legal Services.
In family law, unbundled legal services create a way for a lawyer to offer individual services to clients depending on their needs. When providing unbundled services, a lawyer will only work on specific tasks as requested by the client, as opposed to handling all aspects of the case from beginning to end.
Steven R Jacob Attorney-at-Law tailors the services he provides to clients and their specific legal matter by offering flat fee agreements and limited scope services as an alternative to full-service representation. Sometimes you just need a little guidance, advice, and document preparation. All the document preparation and advice are provided by an experienced Georgia licensed attorney, not by an assistant or a paralegal.
Why choose unbundled legal services?
Unbundling allows you to:
To understand the further scope of unbundled services offered, you can view our Sample Limited Scope Legal Service Agreement.
Unbundled legal services may be an excellent option for some divorce cases, yet full representation may be a better fit for more complex cases or if you want to have a lawyer go to court with you.
To help you determine where your case falls within this spectrum, schedule a complimentary consultation with Steven R Jacob Attorney-at-Law. He will give you his professional perspective as to what kind of legal representation your case may require.