We have joined the movement to kill the “billable hour.”
We will charge you by the hour—but only if you insist. Otherwise, we will provide you one or more price options using a “dollars and sense” approach that incorporates the following principles:
You should not have to watch the clock when talking with us.
We believe hourly billing discourages the kind of collaboration between us that is necessary for success. We don’t want you to wonder “how much is this conversation costing me?” when we call to obtain or share important information or ideas. We also don’t want you to worry when all of our attorneys put our heads together – something we frequently do as a team – about the best way to achieve your objectives in your case.
You should not have to bear all the risk.
By having a financial stake in the case outcome, we ensure that our interests are aligned with yours. If you win because of our work, we should be paid more. If we lose, we should be paid less, or sometimes nothing. The options we offer will be based on your goals and our evaluation of your case.
You should not have to guess each month what your bill for our services is going to be.
Outside of personal injury, many law firms still offer clients only one option—pricing based on hourly fees. In most cases, we believe hourly pricing is a flawed approach because it (1) measures success solely based on our time spent, rather than your result, (2) creates budget uncertainty for you since you will not how much you will be charged each month and (3) rewards inefficiency rather than efficiency. As one national publication put it, “the practice of billing for each hour worked can encourage law firms to prolong a client’s problem rather than solve it.”
You should be able to adjust the price we are paid—up or down—based on whether you are satisfied with the value of the work we have done. We offer a variety of pricing structures and options to ensure that what and how we are paid makes sense.
We often offer a contingency fee arrangement in which part or all of our price is based on a percentage of your recovery. We receive nothing if there is no recovery. The percentage depends on a variety of considerations, including whether the contingency fee is a bonus or the only fee, the amount of damages, the issues in the case, the potential for early resolution by settlement and the risk of a bad outcome.
We will usually offer a contingency fee option in cases seeking damages for physical or mental injuries, wrongful death, sexual assault or abuse, sexual harassment or violent crimes. We also frequently offer to base part or all of our price on a contingency percentage in construction cases, insurance claims and business/commercial litigation.
Contingency fees do not always need to be all or nothing. For instance, we may offer the option to combine a fixed or flat fee with a contingent fee bonus. The contingency fee option is a good one when your cash is tight or you are unable to pay the full cost of prosecuting a claim.
Fixed or Flat Fee
The fixed or flat fee option provides budget certainty and incentivizes efficiency. The fee is paid in monthly installments or on the basis of case segments (e.g. investigation and initiation, discovery, dispositive motions, trials). Because we think your interest is best served when we share case outcome risks, we usually offer this option in combination with a results-based holdback or success bonus.
If the price arrangement involves a holdback, when we send you a fixed fee invoice, a portion (e.g., 10-25%) is treated as an “at risk bucket.” Depending on whether your goals are met, the holdback is considered earned by us, repaid to you or divided between us. The success bonus option is also based on the principle that part of our fee will be based on performance. The arrangement may provide for a bonus based on a percentage of the fixed fee payments if your goals are met or for a percentage of your recovery.
Changes to flat fee arrangements are rare and only will occur if there is a material case change making the arrangement fundamentally unfair to you or to us. By way of illustration: if we agree on a flat fee and the case settles immediately thereafter, that may be a fundamental change. Likewise, if your adversary adds an entirely new claim or defense, with new witnesses or evidence, that may be a fundamental change. In such situations, we would collaborate in good faith with you to equitably adjust the arrangement to remedy any unfairness.