THE COST OF REPRESENTATION
1. Is there a charge for the initial consultation?
Yes, a $100.00 fee is collected for the initial consultation in most instances. A fee greater than $100.00 is charged when your case is particularly complex, requiring an extended amount of time to be spent in your consultation.
2. How much do we charge for our services?
The vast majority of the firm’s casework is done on an hourly rate. The facts of your particular case must be considered in order to speculate on the approximate cost of the case.
3. Do we take cases on contingency?
The firm accepts only a limited number of personal injury cases. Personal injury cases are the only cases taken by the firm on contingency.
4. Is there ever a time that a contingency agreement is “not” better for the client?
There is “never” a time that a given item will “always” be ideal in "every" situation. While there are advantages to a contingency fee agreement, there are also factors that caution against a contingency fee agreement. While it is true that (1) the client is not required to pay for legal services by the hour under a contingency fee agreement and (2) the attorney only gets paid if the client prevails on his/her case, there’s every possibility that the client could ultimately pay far “more” to his/her lawyer under a contingency agreement.
A contingency fee agreement generally entitles the attorney to 30-40 percent of the recovery, and that percentage doesn’t change based on the amount of time it took the attorney to get the matter resolved. If, for example, a particular case settled for $30,000.00, an attorney on a 30-percent contingency would receive $9,000.00 of the recovery – even if it only took 2-3 hours to settle! There are, of course, many factors that go into the decision whether or not a contingency fee agreement is best under the circumstances.
As a general rule, our office encourages clients “not” to enter into a contingency fee agreement if the client can possibly afford the hourly cost of such services. While the contingency client might not be paying the lawyer along the way, he/she will all-but-certainly pay more in the end.
Any potential client should discuss such options with the prospective attorney in the course of deciding which agreement is most appropriate under the circumstances.
5. What will be the total cost to represent you in a case?
There is simply no way of predicting the total cost of providing legal representation in any given lawsuit. This is based in large part upon three factors unknown at the outset of representation:
(A) How hard the opposing party fights the suit;
In an ideal world, the opposing party would simply acquiesce in your every demand, but the real world seldom works that way.
Many times, the financial capacity of your opposing party plays into how vigorously the opposing party will oppose you in litigation. A common but unfortunate practice for wealthy defendants who have no true defense, for instance, is to create enough work for the opposing party (i.e., for the plaintiff) that it becomes financially impractical to complete the case.
(B) How much discovery will be required in order to prepare the matter for trial; and
The parties to any lawsuit are entitled to conduct a certain amount of discovery into the matter and to thereby gather evidence in support of or refuting the disputed issues. Generally speaking, “discovery” refers to interrogatories (where one party asks written questions for the other party’s response—made under oath), requests for production (a request for documents), requests for admissions (“admit/deny that [X] is true”), requests for disclosures (which requires, among other things, an explanation of claimed damages, identification of potential witnesses, and generally the factual and legal bases for the lawsuit or the party’s defense thereto) and depositions (where testimony of parties and/or witnesses is taken under oath for use at trial).
The discovery process can be both time consuming and expensive, but the information acquired in discovery is positively critical to effective presentation of your case as well as to compromise/settlement negotiations.
(C) How quickly the court can get you to trial.
The various courts serving large population centers like Dallas and Fort Worth all have a high number of cases on their dockets. Despite best efforts on the part of the courts to expedite resolution of their cases, the sheer size of their respective court dockets makes it difficult to get a trial as quickly as most clients would like, particularly taking into account time spent in discovery (above).
Although times vary widely, an ordinary civil case with damages exceeding $10,000.00 seldom, if ever, get a trial setting earlier than nine months after initial filing of the lawsuit. It is far more common for such a lawsuit to go to trial 12–18 months after a lawsuit is initially filed, sometimes more.
There are additional factors that go into calculating how much legal representation will cost in a given lawsuit, but because there is no way of predicting how much time a given dispute will take to resolve, there is similarly no possibility to accurately reflect the total amount of legal fees to be incurred in the course of any lawsuit.
6. Does the firm offer flat-fee agreements?
For “eviction” cases:
Yes. The firm represents both landlords and tenants in eviction cases filed throughout the DFW Metroplex for a flat fee. If the case is later appealed to the county court for any reason, services provided in county court is provided at an additional cost, on an hourly basis.
For “litigation” clients:
No. While the amount of time spent in eviction cases is largely the same from one case to the next, all other kinds of lawsuits are highly unpredictable, making it impossible to charge a set amount for legal services incurred incident to a lawsuit.
For “business formation” clients:
Yes. The firm has specific prices for establishment of a limited liability company, a limited partnership, a corporation, or any other business entity. Our price includes all state filing fees, attorney fees, and creation of all applicable corporate books. As decisions of this nature are invariably more about tax and financial planning than about legal issues, the price we charge similarly includes consultation with one of the outside financial and tax planning specialists we work with.