Understanding Attorney Fees: A Comprehensive Guide

At Whitaker & Hamer PLLC, we understand that navigating legal fees can be daunting. That’s why we’re here to provide clarity and transparency every step of the way. Here’s an overview of how attorney fees work:

Consultation Fees: Before retaining an attorney, you may opt for a consultation. This allows you to sit down with one of our experienced attorneys for up to an hour to discuss the details of your case. It’s important to note that a consultation does not automatically mean you have hired an attorney. The consultation is to allow you the opportunity to discuss the details of your matter with an attorney. The attorney at that time provides an overview of your rights, how the case would work, the options we could provide to assist, the costs of those options and so on. You have not hired an attorney until you have signed an engagement agreement and paid your initial or flat fee.

Flat Fees for Full Representation: For certain services, such as obtaining a divorce or filing a complaint, we offer flat fees. This means you’ll agree to a set price for specific services upfront. The fee is treated as earned immediately with full disclosure and client consent, often found in our engagement agreements. The flat fee is earned immediately and not subject to refund unless required by the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct.

Flat Fees (A La Carte): In some cases, we provide limited scope assistance for a flat fee. This typically involves document review and strategic advice tailored to your needs. Keep in mind that with this option, the attorney is not engaged in full representation on your matter and is often assisting in a very narrow and limited capacity.

Retainer Fees (Advance Fee): Paid in advance for services yet to be rendered, retainer fees must always be placed in a trust account. As time is expended and services are provided, the fee is transferred to the operating account. It typically corresponds to time expended rather than specific tasks.

Combination of Fees (Both Flat Fee & Retainer): Your attorney may charge a fee that is a combination of the above categories. The engagement agreement will designate which fee applies to which portion. For example, you may need a Separation Agreement and absolute divorce. The absolute divorce would be a flat fee, and the attorney would bill hourly for the Separation Agreement. The flat fee for the divorce would be earned upon receipt.

Acceptance of Legal Insurance: We accept ARAG, Metlife, and Legal Resources Legal Insurance. While these plans may cover the cost of your attorney, coverage may be limited to a certain number of hours. If you have limited coverage, once your hourly limit is reached the attorney will begin to charge your directly for the matter. Regardless of the type of coverage, any court costs incurred are the responsibility of the client.

PayLater (fka ClientCredit) Legal Fee Financing: We also offer PayLater, a legal fee financing option. This allows you to receive full payments upfront while making smaller regular payments to a third-party lender, such as Affirm. Eligibility and credit limits vary based on individual circumstances. Ask our staff and our attorneys about PayLater in order to ease the burden of the attorney fees.

At Whitaker & Hamer PLLC, we’re committed to providing accessible and affordable legal services. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal needs. Your peace of mind is our priority.