It’s important to know just what you’re paying for in any type of transaction – especially when it comes to legal fees which can pile up pretty quickly.
To prevent unwanted surprises, here’s a quick guide to fees and arrangements typically paid to lawyers:
- Initial consultation fee
In the Philippines, there is no standard practice when it comes to initially consulting with a lawyer. Some lawyers charge a fixed rate for consultations; others charge by the hour. Inquire before scheduling an appointment.
- Acceptance fee
Following the initial consultation, both you and the lawyer you consulted can opt to reject or proceed with the case.
When a lawyer accepts your case, it comes with a fee. This payment indicates that the lawyer is entering an exclusive arrangement with you and relinquishes opportunities to represent other parties. Call it an opportunity cost.
- Fixed retainer fee
Once you decide to hire a lawyer, a fixed retainer fee is paid in advance. This covers the lawyer’s initial expenses as well as the services your lawyer will render down the road. Call it a down payment, if you will.
The retainer fee often puts attorneys on call basis when they handle legal cases for their clients over a set period of time. The fee is usually held in an account separate from the lawyer’s regular hourly wage.
- Flat fee
Flat fees are paid for cases or services considered basic or routine such as filing copyright registrations, writing a will, and preparing basic estate planning documents.
- Hourly rate
This charge covers the hours the lawyer spends working on a client’s case – from consultations to meetings to research.
An attorney’s hourly rate is usually billed per month. Some attorneys will charge different hourly rates for different services. A law firm’s senior members are pricier than younger associates.
Before agreeing to anything, ask your lawyer for an estimate of how long the prep work and the actual litigation might take. This will give you a fair idea of how much you may be paying in the future.
- Contingency fee
If a client can’t afford a lawyer’s services, they can enter into a contingent fee arrangement. The attorney’s fee will be paid with a percentage of the compensation awarded in a successful case.
If the client loses, no money changes hands. However, the client will still have to pay for the attorney’s services.
This type of fee may be arranged in cases involving large payouts sought in damages pertaining to property or personal injuries.
It’s okay to negotiate fees
If you’re looking for a lawyer, it’s important to remember that professional fees are sometimes negotiable, so don’t be afraid to ask.
In lieu of a negotiated fee, you may be offered a payment scheme. Some lawyers may even allow you to negotiate the terms of payment.
Are you looking for legal assistance? Get the expert legal services you need with Duran & Duran-Schulze Law. Call (+632) 478 5826 or [email protected].