Some areas of our practice are undertaken exclusively on an hourly rate, plus costs. These practice areas include divorce, business and commercial litigation (including construction litigation), labor and employment law matters.
Our hourly rates reflect our background and experience, and we try hard to be efficient with our time. If we review a bill at the end of the month and decide that we have been inefficient, we may reduce our fees. We also expect that our monthly bill will be paid promptly. We charge hourly rates which are comparable to other attorneys in the Idaho Falls area with like experience and skills. We recognize that each situation is different, and because we tailor each letter, pleading and document that we prepare to the client’s particular case, the cost may differ from client to client and may vary from what another lawyer might charge.
For most hourly matters, including divorce and business/commercial litigation matters, we require a retainer, which is an upfront deposit against which we will bill our attorney fees and costs. Costs include charges for filing fees, postage, fax charges, expert witness fees, consulting fees, deposition fees, travel, etc. Although we bill against the retainer, we generally require that the client pay each monthly bill as it comes due so as to maintain the retainer at its original amount. We hold retainers in the law firm’s trust account and do not draw against them until the work is performed. We will refund any balance left on the retainer when the case is over and our representation ends.
Some areas of our practice are undertaken on a percentage or “contingent fee” basis. These areas include most personal injury, accident, worker’s compensation, social security and professional malpractice cases. A contingent fee means that we get paid a fee only when and if our client also recovers on his/her claim. We generally will advance the costs of litigation until a recovery is obtained, and then are reimbursed for those costs out of the settlement or judgment. (As in other cases, costs in contingent fee matters include expenses for filing fees, postage, fax charges, expert witness fees, consulting fees, deposition fees, travel, etc.) Some personal injury and medical malpractice cases are very expensive to litigate. Consequently, when deciding whether to accept a case on a contingent fee basis, we must evaluate not only the likelihood of recovery but also the expected amount of recovery. For this reason, we cannot defend cases on a contingent fee basis.
Contingent fee arrangements make it easier for clients to pursue certain claims because the client does not pay attorney fees up front, and if no recovery is obtained, no attorney fee is charged at all. Although in contingent fee cases our financial interests are aligned more closely with those of the client, we will never settle the case without specific authorization and express instructions from our client to do so.
Our usual contingent fee percentage for personal injury cases is one third of the total recovery. In any given case, however, we will evaluate the potential risks and benefits when deciding on a specific percentage.
We will always specify the exact percentage terms in a signed fee agreement before embarking upon representation on a contingent fee basis.