Author Topic: unofficial survey re lawyer fees  (Read 2850 times)

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Offline CrAz3D

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unofficial survey re lawyer fees
« on: October 11, 2013, 11:40:07 PM »
I’ve been thinking about billing structures. In lawyer-land, billable hours are historically king. Modern day, though, alternative fee agreements are becoming more popular (but aren’t common).
 
I have a few situations that I’d like to get input on, and see what sounds more preferable for peeps.
 
Scenario: You have what you think is a simple divorce.
 
Fee arrangement #1: I bill $300/hour for approx. 20 hours.
 
Fee arrangement #2: I bill $200/hours for approx. 30 hours.
 
Fee arrangement #3: I bill a flat cost of $6k for the basic divorce, but if it becomes complicated/you ask me about stuff unrelated to the basic divorce, I start charging $200-300 per hour.
 
 
 
What sounds most attractive?
 
 
 
 
 
(note that regardless of the option you pick, I charge $6k for a basic divorce)
(also note that you don't probably think about this rationally---you think about that as a person in the midst of the shittiest time of your life)

Offline rabbit

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Re: unofficial survey re lawyer fees
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2013, 09:50:02 AM »
Aren't you guys supposed to define everything explicitly?  I would not pay if a lawyer says "it'll be relatively cheap at 6k unless it starts getting complicated then fuck you"

Offline CrAz3D

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Re: unofficial survey re lawyer fees
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2013, 09:08:48 PM »
you cant define the unexpected...esp when people aren't forthcoming from the get-go. Ex: "I have an easy divorce and we agree on the split. *weeks later* Now we're fighting about X & Y & Z." If it stays like explained, then it costs X. If it becomes more difficult, of course it's going to be more expensive. Fees also drop if easier than expected. *shrug*

Offline while1

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Re: unofficial survey re lawyer fees
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2013, 09:50:25 PM »
From what you're saying, "fee arrangements" sound like a disingenuous billing method because if hypothetically speaking, my basic divorce takes 20 hours and I choose option #1, I would pay you $6k ($300/hr), but if I choose option #2 with my same divorce you drag it out (aka be purposely less productive) and bill me for 30 hours and I'd still pay $6k no matter what.  Maybe I'm not understand what you're saying or how these "fee arrangements" work.

Is there a direct relationship between "divorce complexity" and time required?  In other words, as divorce complexity increases, so does the number of hours required?  If this is the case, wouldn't a tiered billing structure work (i.e.  First 20 hours billed at $200/hr and every hour after that is billed at $300- just an example, but you get the idea).
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 10:09:19 PM by while1 »
I tend to edit my topics and replies frequently.

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Offline CrAz3D

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Re: unofficial survey re lawyer fees
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2013, 10:08:27 PM »
That's kind of the weird situation with lawyer work. Hourly shit is basically outdated, but we still do it (it's what we're used to, it's what clients are used to, etc). The hourly rate is what is agreed to; no one is saying a set number of hours (thought a lawyer will usually ball park the expected total cost).

The ballpark is why I think option #3 might be the most acceptable to the majority of people. You expect to pay $X for Xservice. The contract further would explain that if things get more complicated, you pay more (duh....?).

But I think people also dont recognize the value of hiring a lawyer for a simply divorce. I'd ballpark a "simple divorce with basic assets" at $2-3k (where I am), but I've seen people with plenty of money opt to do it themselves (and then screw it all up only to lose a few hundred thousand later down the line).

I spose, though, to get lawyer fees on par with what consumers want/need, there needs to be a frick ton of PR education to the public. Lawyer fees are on par with what the market demands (otherwise people wouldn't pay them), but not everyone recognizes the value of said fees, so they do shit on their own not knowing the consequences of what they're doing.

A lot of straight forward services are done on flat fee bases. Want a contract between A and B that accomplishes X? Ideally, that should be a set fee. If the client makes it more complicated, then the cost increases, obviously. But how to increase the fee is up for discussion (hourly? flat?).

Offline while1

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Re: unofficial survey re lawyer fees
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2013, 10:19:12 PM »
Aye, sites like LegalZoom and RocketLawyer are nice because they offer such straight forward services for flat fees.

But I imagine outside of filing legal paperwork and stuff all divorces would require, a divorce is not nearly as straight forward.  Having not enough knowledge on the subject, for me, the issue is in defining basic vs. complex divorces.  I guess estimating the amount of time you think the average basic divorce would take and determining a flat fee could work, but I can see the client getting angry or confused when their divorce turns out to be complex and then feeling mislead when they start incurring additional costs.  Most people are suspicious of lawyers already, and for someone to feel like the lawyer that they hired and is supposed to be helping them is ambiguously defining "complexity" in the fine print of a contract... Would only make the client distrustful and more suspicious.

I think for divorces, hourly rates would be better than a flat fee + additional expenses, less confusing and more straightforward.  Because I'd bet that more often than not, an increase in divorce complexity is going to mean more required time/ work (if you think this is a bad assumption, then do please tell why).
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 10:27:56 PM by while1 »
I tend to edit my topics and replies frequently.

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Offline CrAz3D

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Re: unofficial survey re lawyer fees
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2013, 09:27:36 AM »
increased complexity likely means more work, yeah. *shrug*

I spose for ease of understanding and not messing with having to re-explain things down the road, straight hourly makes sense.

Offline iago

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Re: unofficial survey re lawyer fees
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2013, 10:36:26 AM »
Personally, when I do consulting work, I find it better to charge a flat fee, and to give complete service as far as I can. But to also clearly define the limits, and to indicate that, if we go beyond the limits, we have to renegotiate.

Offline CrAz3D

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Re: unofficial survey re lawyer fees
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2013, 08:29:44 PM »
word. that makes most sense to me (so people know, upfront, generally how much they're gonna pay)