By: Robin Gentry
Many individuals, small to medium sized companies and large corporations needing legal advice are now faced with a new dilemma due to this public health crisis known as Coronavirus (COVID-19): how do I ensure necessary legal services at an affordable price?
Fearing large legal costs, many people and companies that would benefit from an experienced lawyer’s advice, might choose not to bother during this time for fear that costs will be extravagant. This can lead to an even greater loss to the client based on infringement of their intellectual property rights, breaches of contract and the need to renegotiate existing contracts.
Fortunately, consumers are not locked into the traditional hourly fee billing model that so many people think of when viewing legal services. Instead, there are several alternative fee arrangements available.
Here are some alternative fee arrangements that are available:
1. Flat fee arrangements: When using a flat fee, lawyers offer various services at set, or “flat” rates. For example, do you need to register a trademark? A lawyer can charge a fixed rate for that application, no matter how long it takes the attorney to prepare it. Do you need to license your copyrighted artistic design? That can also be done for a flat rate. This type of alternative billing arrangement works best for services a firm is experienced providing. The firm’s expertise allows them to provide clients a low-cost option while still ensuring a quality work product.
2. Contingency fee arrangements: A contingency fee is an alternative to the traditional hourly billing model. When reviewing your case, an experienced attorney is likely to recognize the strength of the case and willing to gamble his time in order for a percentage of the case outcome. While this is often very attractive to clients, the downside is that the lawyer’s percentage is often significant and clients are often left with less than they expect. So how can the client and lawyer both win with a contingency?
3. Hybrid contingency arrangements: In hybrid, or partial, contingency fee arrangements, the client pays the lawyer on a monthly basis for the hours the firm works just like in the traditional model, but the lawyer’s normally hourly rate is reduced. Then, if the litigation is successful, the lawyer receives an additional sum (usually a percentage of the award, but at a lesser percentage than in a full contingency).
4. Fee caps: This is a variation of the flat fee arrangement that allows the lawyer to bill at her normal rate until they reach an agreed maximum amount or cap. Once the cap is reached, the attorney continues to work the case, but does not bill the client.
5. Retainers: Retainers are a fixed, monthly payment to the attorney who then performs the services you need that month. This is a great arrangement for a company that does not want to have an attorney as an employee but wants to make sure that a trusted attorney is available while knowing the cost up front.
If you have any questions about alternative fee arrangements, please contact David Lilenfeld at David@lilenfeld.com or (404) 201-2520.