Legal fees are how much attorneys charge for providing their services, and they are usually determined based on the amount of time and effort that a service requires, the novelty and complexity of the legal matter involved, the attorney’s experience with a certain type of legal matter, and how much other attorneys usually charge for this service within a jurisdiction.
Simple and common tasks usually cost more or less the same, while uncommon and complex matters are more expensive. This is usually because common tasks can be automated, and complex matters require much more time and effort to complete.
There are many types of services that attorneys can provide in Puerto Rico. These range from providing legal advice, establishing communications between different parties, carrying out business or legal actions on behalf of a client, or representing clients before different government agencies or court. A case can require a whole series of services, and representation before many different government agencies. It may require communication between opposing parties, or opposing counsel, as well as collaborating with different people.
Evaluation of Legal Fees and Expenses
Most cases begin with an Initial Consultation. This is the first part of determining what services are needed, and then how much they will cost. We usually compare this with a medical diagnosis. Attorneys ask questions, gather information, request documents and contact other people who have dealt with the case. All this provides a better idea of what has been done, what needs to be done, and what the attorney can do to help.
Once the attorney knows what needs to be done, and how long it will take to do it, an estimate of the legal fees and expenses is determined. It is often very hard to foresee all the possible outcomes of a case, but based on experience, and approximate determination of the time and effort is usually set.
There are several ways to pay for a Legal Fees and Expenses:
This is the most common form of payment for legal fees and expenses. An hourly fee is agreed upon by the attorney and the client, and an approximate amount of retainer is requested by the attorney. The retainer is debited on a regular basis, according to the amount of work and expenses generated during the management of the case. In certain cases, the retainer is depleted completely, and in other cases there is an amount of retainer left over by the time the case finishes. The retainer can then be either refunded to the client, or kept as a minimum payment. If the retainer is kept by the attorney as a minimum payment, it is called a “non-refundable retainer”, which are considered to be completely legal in Puerto Rico.
This is the second most common form of payment for legal fees and expenses. If the outcome of a case is predictable, the attorney can agree to quote a set amount for the complete case. This amount can either be paid in stages, or paid completely upfront. The attorney and the client can agree on this amount beforehand, or the amount can depend on several stages or possible outcomes. Flat-fees are usually quoted in routine and predictable legal matters, because both the amount of work and possible outcomes are easily known before the case is undertaken. It is uncommon for litigation to be billed on a Flat-fee basis, because there is always a degree of uncertainty when a case reaches court. Otherwise, it is very convenient to establish a Flat-fee, because the client knows exactly how much the complete case will cost.
Attorneys can offer to finance, or pay in installments, both retainers and Flat-fees. They can be paid in different stages, or in monthly installments, depending on the case, and the amount of time from beginning to end. It is very common to finance complex cases that take years to complete.
This is the last most common form of payment for legal fees and expenses. An attorney can choose to provide legal services and charge a percentage of an amount received in compensation, damages, or claim. Usually, if there is an uncertainty to this amount, it is very hard to establish a contingency fee, but many attorneys prefer this method because they can offer their legal services to people who do not have enough money to file a claim, or carry out a legal proceeding. This percentage can be any amount, and is usually agreed upon by the attorney and the client depending on the complexity and length of the case. Contrary to popular belief, there is no limit to the amount of percentage that an attorney can charge for certain matters, although for certain specific cases, this amount can be limited by law. It is always recommended that the exact formula to determine the percentage be agreed upon in writing, and before the case is undertaken.
How we charge for Legal Fees and Expenses
Christian M. Frank Fas Law Offices tailors the form and method of payment to each case. We offer retainer financing and the convenience of payments with all major credit cards. We are a PCI Compliant payment processor, and routinely adjust the form of payment and amount of legal fees and expenses as the case progresses, depending on the complexity of each case. We strive to maintain our expenses low, and extend those savings to our clients. We prefer electronic communications, and run a PaperLess office, which in turn saves money for our clients in the long run.