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  Question: I’ve heard that some attorneys charge by the hour, others charge based on a contingency fee and others charge a flat rate for services. How will Harvey, Abens & Iosue bill me? Also, what is a retainer and how does it work?

Answer: It is true that some lawyers charge by the hour, some charge based on a contingent fee, and sometimes lawyers will use a mix of both. At Harvey, Abens & Iosue, the answer depends on the type of case involved and the facts behind it. It should be noted that Harvey, Abens & Iosue will always discuss its fee structure up front and document the fee arrangement in writing.

In general, all transactional work is done on an hourly basis. Some limited examples of transactional work include the creation of contracts, operating agreements, buy/sell agreements, leases, etc. In addition, anytime Harvey, Abens & Iosue performs services involving legal counseling, it will almost always be billed on an hourly basis. Limited examples of these types of services include risk assessment/evaluation, analysis of and solutions to specific legal issues, tax consulting and general consulting, legal or otherwise. Depending on the case type, legal fees associated with the litigation process can be billed either on an hourly basis, on a contingent fee, or a mix of both.

For example, if Harvey, Abens & Iosue has been retained to defend a claim brought against you (i.e. you or your company has been sued), then in most instances Harvey, Abens & Iosue will bill its customers based on an hourly rate for services performed. On the other hand, if Harvey, Abens & Iosue represents a client who is seeking a valid claim against another party (i.e. monetary relief), then Harvey, Abens & Iosue can arrange a fee system whereby Harvey, Abens & Iosue would retain a certain percentage of the client’s recovery to cover the legal fees incurred. Please be advised that court costs and other litigation expenses are often deducted from the client’s share of the recovery.

Also, if Harvey, Abens & Iosue is representing a plaintiff in a matter, a mixed fee agreement may arise whereby an initial retainer is paid by the client and will cover a certain amount of billable hours that will be incurred in the case. Harvey, Abens & Iosue is then entitled to a percentage of the client’s recovery in addition to the retainer fee paid. Where a client seeks Harvey, Abens & Iosue for criminal defense work, legal fees shall always be billed on an hourly basis. It is highly unethical for an attorney to charge a contingent fee based on the outcome of the client’s criminal case. Please also note that an up-front retainer fee is almost always necessary to retain Harvey, Abens & Iosue in a criminal matter.

Lastly, a flat fee is often used by Harvey, Abens & Iosue for some estate planning work and the preparation and filing of many administrative/governmental forms. For instance, the creation of many clients’ simple estate planning documents is charged on a flat fee basis. These services usually include a simple will, durable power of attorney, living will and health care power of attorney. The type of rate charge ultimately depends on the client’s asset base and their needs and goals. The more complex the estate and/or the client’s needs, then the more likely it is that the client would be charged an hourly rate.

Retainers: A retainer is an advance payment paid to Harvey, Abens & Iosue by a client to secure the legal services of Harvey, Abens & Iosue. The retainer demonstrates to Harvey, Abens & Iosue a client’s commitment to the task at hand and evidence that the client has retained Harvey, Abens & Iosue to act on their behalf. In general, the retainer will be applied toward the final amount owed by a client (think of it as a down payment). In most cases the retainer amount is refundable up until the point in which Harvey, Abens & Iosue has performed legal services that equate to the amount of the retainer. However, if a client chooses not to continue the services of Harvey, Abens & Iosue and Harvey, Abens & Iosue has not performed services valued at the retainer amount, then the amount not earned will be returned to the client immediately upon written demand.

The dollar amount of the retainer needed to retain the services of Harvey, Abens & Iosue will depend on the type of services needed, the complexity of law involved, the complexity of facts involved, the type of law involved and any other factor that adds/detracts from the complexity of a legal scenario. It should be noted that in most instances, a retainer will be needed to secure the legal services of Harvey, Abens & Iosue. All matters regarding the retainer will be extensively discussed by a member of Harvey, Abens & Iosue with the client and memorialized in writing.

A member of Harvey, Abens & Iosue would be happy to speak with you about any of the above-mentioned information regarding the way fees are charged and collected at Harvey, Abens & Iosue. Again, all information given above is for illustrative and educational purposes only and may not apply to a particular’s client’s situation. For this reason, Harvey, Abens & Iosue reserves the right to structure its fee systems as particular situations warrant and notwithstanding any statements made on this website.