In recent years, attorneys and their clients have been wrestling with new approaches to computing charges for legal services. The traditional hourly charge fee arrangement is not always appropriate.
While it is relatively simple for an attorney to quote a flat fee to handle, for example, a real estate transaction, legal matters which involve extended negotiation and/or litigation, may consume unanticipated amounts of time and resources, which make it difficult to accurately determine the total fees at the beginning of a case. Such factors as the willingness of the parties to cooperate, the need for consultation with other professionals and the extent of information which must be obtained and reviewed prior to the making of a settlement proposal and the preparation for and trial of a case, impact upon the ability of an attorney to commit to a “one fee fits all” scenario.
My office, as well as those of other attorneys, offers so-called fixed fee arrangements for various services including preventive law consultations, correspondence, the negotiation and preparation of certain legal documents, and the preparation of Wills, Living Wills, Health Cue Proxies and Powers of Attorney. Similar fee arrangements are made available in divorce proceedings which are truly uncontested.
Other legal transactions which may be charged on a “flat fee” basis include the preparation and review of documents related to the purchase, sale and refinancing of real estate and attendance at the closing and general consultation services.
Of course, in hiring an attorney (and other service providers), the background and experience of the attorney and his/her ability to communicate with the client should be taken into account in evaluating whether the fee arrangement (hourly, fixed, contingent or otherwise) is fair and appropriate.