Costs & Fees
Fee arrangements for legal matters can vary, depending on the type of case, which party you represent, and the risk involved in recovery. The following is a summary of the various fee arrangements in most cases we accept at Duff & Kronfeld, P.C..
There are some cases, such as personal injury claims, which are accepted on a contingency basis. Our fee is based on a percentage of your recovery whether determined by an agreed settlement, a judge or a jury. However, you will still be responsible to pay costs and expenses associated with the case, such as filling fees, service fees, medical records, court reporters, etc. as the case is ongoing. At the commencement of the case, you will be required to pay a deposit into your trust account, which will be applied toward these costs as incurred, and you will be notified to replenish this account when the funds have been exhausted.
Flat Fee Cases
Cases such as a misdemeanors, wills or other eligible cases are accepted on a flat-fee basis. This means that your attorney will charge a set amount, regardless of how much time is spent on your case. The fee arrangement will be discussed at your first meeting with the attorney to decide if your case is eligible to be charged on a flat-fee basis.
Cases Billed On An Hourly Basis
Most attorneys will bill their clients according to the amount of time required to complete any given project, whether as minor as a telephone call, or as major as a trial. The amount charged for the attorney’s time is based upon the attorney’s billing rate which, in turn, is a function of the attorney’s years of experience, and developed expertise in that particular area of law.
In the Northern Virginia area, you can generally expect attorneys’ billing rates to range from $200 per hour for a less-experienced associate attorney, to $600 per hour for a seasoned, senior attorney. Hourly cases are most commonly used for family law cases such as divorce, custody, support, property settlement agreements, contract litigation, legal malpractice, consultation, mediation, arbitration and appeals.
Litigation involving custody, division of assets and other family law matters is often time-intensive, which equates to being, potentially, quite expensive. There are, however, certain things both you and the firm you hire can do to help control attorney’s fees:
Our Responsibilities As Your Attorneys:
- At Duff & Kronfeld, P.C., we require a signed Fee Agreement and advanced fee depositbefore commencing work on your case. This Fee Agreement is a contract between the client andDuff & Kronfeld, P.C. which outlines the terms of your representation. It is important that the client and attorney are in full agreement as to its terms to avoid any future misunderstanding. The advanced fee deposit will be held in a trust account, which will be applied toward future billings and costs and will need to be replenished periodically when it has been exhausted.
- We will send you monthly billing statements from the Firm, which will itemize all legal services performed on your behalf by members of the Firm, and the fees associated with such services. This work includes, but is not limited to, all communications with opposing counsel, witnesses, and other individuals involved in your case; drafting of pleadings, court appearances, substantive emails and telephone calls. These bills are due and payable upon receipt. Monies in your trust account will be applied toward the outstanding balance. Any fees and/or costs which remain unpaid after thirty (30) days will accrue interest charges at the rate of 1.5% per month until paid.
- When your trust account has been depleted, the firm will notify you and request a replenishment of your trust account in an amount appropriate for the status of your matter. This may occur numerous times throughout the litigation.
- We will send you invoices for payment by you directly for third parties who we have hired on your behalf (court reporters, process service, expert witnesses, etc.).
- We work as a team and when appropriate, we may assign other attorneys, paralegals or staff to work on your case under the supervision of the responsible attorney to help keep costs down.
- We will endeavor to keep you apprised of your case on a regular basis and forward to you copies of all correspondence and pleadings we send and receive, so that you are always aware of the status of your case.
- We will meet periodically during our representation to discuss our progress, plans and strategy to moving forward, and financial expectations of the litigation.
- We will do our best to be cost effective, however, we were hired to protect your legal interests, and we cannot ethically or morally cut corners to save a few dollars.
Your Responsibilities As Our Client:
- Litigation can be expensive and the cost is the financial responsibility of the client. It is a significant financial commitment and the client needs to have the financial resources available before commencing litigation. Your attorney or the firm cannot finance your litigation, nor wait until the end of the case to be paid. Please contact your attorney immediately if you cannot honor the terms of the Fee Agreement to discuss possible options.
- As stated above, the client will be charged for every substantive email and telephone call; therefore, unless it is crucial that your question be answered immediately, it would be more cost-effective to compile a list of questions as they arise, and address several of them in a single email or telephone call.
- The client is ultimately responsible for all costs and expenses which, in the discretion of the Firm, are reasonable and necessary in the handling and prosecution of their legal matter. These costs may include, but are not necessarily limited to, amounts the Firm is obligated to pay for expert witnesses or other persons providing reports, information and/or testimony, court costs, witness fees, travel costs, long distance telephone charges, facsimile transmission charges, photocopying, court reporter fees, copies of records and documents, transcripts of depositions and hearings, preparation of exhibits, fees for service of subpoenas, translator/interpreter fees, and other such related litigation or mediation expenses.
- Communication between you and your attorney is vital to your case. It is important that you disclose both good and bad information to your attorney so that he/she can provide you with the best representation.
Please recognize that there will often be times when your lawyer is not available when you want to communicate with him/her. You are encouraged to communicate with the attorney’s legal assistant, paralegal, or email directly to the attorney. This should provide you with prompt and less expensive answers to your questions.
- If you would like to meet with the attorney, but cannot find the time in your schedule, you can schedule a “telephone conference” appointment at a specific time when it may be more convenient. Call his/her legal assistant to schedule a date and time for this “telephone call” or “TC” as we call it, at a time mutually convenient to call in. The attorney will be waiting for your call.
- Do not use your attorney as a therapist – stick to legal matters dealing with your attorney, as his/her billing rate is probably far greater than the average mental health therapist.
- Cooperate with your attorney . . . The more you do to assist your attorney, the less your attorney must do and, accordingly, the less fees you will incur. Therefore, it is always helpful to respond promptly to requests from your attorney, and to timely provide your attorney with necessary documents and information. Avoid making your attorney repeatedly ask for the same thing, as this only creates frustration, and increases your fees.
- Check with your attorney first . . . It is always more costly to correct mistakes than it is to do it right at the outset. Therefore, before taking any questionable course of action, or signing an agreement, or even sending a potentially damaging letter to your spouse, it is usually more cost-effective to discuss the same with your attorney
before taking such action.
- If there is ever a question on your bill, it is best to bring it to the attention of the attorney or office administrator as soon as possible, and we will endeavor to correct any error on our part immediately. You certainly will not be charged by the attorney for any billing questions.
- Be patient. Litigation can be time-consuming and very frustrating, depending on the cooperation of the parties, the complexity of the case and scheduling conflicts.
If you have further questions about our rates and fees, please call our Fairfax office at 703-591-7475 or contact us online.