The fee agreement for legal services in a civil case is based on the nature, time involved and complexity of the particular case. We will present a specific plan for payment of legal fees in a particular case that may include a retainer fee, an hourly rate and/or a contingency fee.
The Howard Law Firm accepts most of its civil cases based on a contingency fee. Our cases are usually so time-consuming and expensive that very few clients could pay an hourly rate to retain our services. A contingency fee assures that the client is not responsible for attorney fees unless and until there is a financial recovery in the case. The firm must be very selective and careful in evaluating these cases because it assumes an enormous risk.
The contingency fee is usually one-third of the recovery if a case is settled before a legal action is filed. The contingency fee usually increases to 40% after a legal action is filed. However, the contingency fee percentage may vary depending upon the unusual services, expenses or risks in a particular case.
Contingent attorneys’ fees refers only to those fees charged by attorneys for their legal services. Such fees are not permitted in all types of cases. Court costs and other
expenses of legal action usually must be paid by the client.
It may be impossible to evaluate a case without a substantial investment of time or expense. The client may be required to pay a non-refundable retainer fee or expense deposit to cover this initial evaluation. Based upon the outcome of this evaluation, the firm may then continue to pursue the claim based on a contingency fee. The client will be reimbursed for any initial payment when there is a recovery on his claim.
Much of your attorney’s work and time invested in any case is done without your direct knowledge or presence. Legal research, contact with witnesses, investigation, scheduling court calendars, preparing and reviewing documents, conferences, court appearances, some depositions and other services necessary to the proper handling of a case occur outside the client’s presence. The client
is free to contact us to discuss fee arrangements and the progress of a case at any time.
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A criminal defense attorney cannot charge a contingency fee, since he cannot guarantee the outcome of any case. The defense attorney may charge an hourly rate for specific services or a court-appointed case, but an hourly rate is often inappropriate to secure full legal representation for the defense of a criminal prosecution.
A criminal defense attorney must provide full legal representation in any court where he enters an appearance for a defendant. In effect, the attorney is assuring the court that the attorney has been fully paid for his services. The courts generally will not allow attorneys to withdraw from criminal cases based on fee disputes or inadequate payments. Furthermore, a fee dispute may disrupt the complete trust that should exist between the defendant and his attorney in a criminal case.
For these reasons, a criminal defense attorney generally charges a flat, nonrefundable retainer fee to handle each stage of a criminal prosecution. The fee is based on the estimated amount of time that will be required to handle the case in a particular court. This retainer fee will not be altered simply because the case requires more or less time than the attorney initially estimated. The attorney is obligated to provide complete, quality representation until the case is resolved or transferred to a higher court.
Partial payments and payment plans may be used in limited circumstances, but they must be set up very carefully. Partial payments may allow a defense attorney to work on a case while no court appearances have been scheduled. However, a partial payment will not retain the defense attorney to appear in court. The Howard Law Firm only accepts partial payments with adequate assurance that we will be fully retained in the case within a specified time period. Otherwise, the partial payments might be inadequate to retain our services, yet they might also prevent a defendant from retaining another attorney.
A preliminary hearing or bond hearing usually requires a much smaller fee than full legal representation after an indictment. If a case can be dismissed at an early stage, then there are no additional fees. However, the attorney cannot guarantee that these preliminary proceedings will take place as scheduled, since they can be cancelled or nullified by subsequent events. The fee is still nonrefundable because the attorney must fully prepare for these proceedings while they are scheduled.
When a case is indicted and/or prosecuted in a higher court, the fees previously paid to the firm will be credited toward the final retainer fee. The firm provides this credit because our services for preliminary matters will assist our defense preparation at a later stage. This credit should also encourage defendants to employ our services at an early stage, since preliminary legal services will not increase the total fee.
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Take Ga. Highway 78 (Stone Mountain Freeway) - East
Turn left at first exit - Brockett Road
Turn right at first light to stay on Brockett Road
Turn right into first driveway at Kyleif Center
Suite 200 faces the street