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Fees - Credit Cards - Payment Plans
Fees Estimated by Phone
I would be happy to discuss your case briefly and estimate my fees by telephone. I DO NOT CHARGE for your first phone call with me! If you leave me a message on my answering machine, I will return your call as soon as I can. This is the best way to find out how much something will cost!
I accept cash, money order, or your personal check as payment for my services. I am no longer accepting credit cards at this time. If there is sufficient demand, I will investigate new credit card options. (For more about payment plans, see below.)
I normally have two different ways that I charge for my services as an attorney: (1) a flat fee for a certain legal service and (2) charging for however much time is involved in performing the legal service. (Note: my charges for serving as a mediator are structured differently.)
A flat fee means that the charge is determined in advance and you pay that amount regardless of the time involved--but only for a certain pre-defined service. Also note that flat fees are NOT REFUNDABLE.
Charging for time means that you must pay for all the time involved in your case--but the range of the services is more flexible and can be adapted to fit the needs of the moment. (For more about how I charge for time, see below.)
Factors Affecting Fees
There are a lot of factors that I consider when estimating my fees. This is a brief explanation of some of those factors.
There are three types of matters I usually handle as an attorney: (1) simple document preparation, (2) 100% agreed cases, and (3) cases involving disputes or complex situations.
The most important factor influencing legal fees is whether the case involves any disputes.
Unless there are complex situations involved, I can usually quote a flat fee for preparing the following documents: Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Directives to Physicians (so-called "Living Wills").
Also, I usually charge a flat fee in "uncontested cases." This means cases in which everyone involved agrees and cooperates 100%; any opposing party signs and notarizes whatever papers are needed; and I am not expected to speak to anyone other than my client (and the Court). This is the preferred way to handle any Court case.
Disputes, Collaborative Law, and Complex Matters
Finally, in cases involving disputes, collaborative law, or other complex situations (like Trusts, for example), it is very difficult for me to predict the total fees in advance. So, I charge for the time involved in handling the case. I believe that the way I charge for time is better and more fair than the way many other attorneys charge. I do two things differently: (1) I pro-rate all of the charges down to the minute and (2) I charge different rates for attorney and clerical or travel time--even if the attorney is the one who is performing the clerical or travel service.
(Note: Even though I try to be fair with my charges, there is no question that disputed cases are the most expensive--which is why I always try to help my clients find a way to resolve the dispute more efficiently. My discussion of how these charges work does not mean that I recommend this method of handling a case! Usually the least expensive method is in my client's best interest.)
Most attorneys charge in tenths of an hour or 6-minute increments (some even charge in 15-minute increments--and plumbers charge in half-hour increments!). (I guess the reason is that before computers and digital watches, it was too much trouble to figure the exact number of minutes for each service and then divide the hourly rate by 60 minutes.) The problem with 6-minute increments is the over-billing which results from rounding up each thing the attorney does. For example, if I perform a service for your case which takes 9 and 1/2 minutes, I will charge you for 10 minutes and an attorney who charges in 6-minute increments would charge you for 12 minutes.
Most attorneys charge their full attorney rate for whatever they do on a case. (Although they may have paralegals or assistants at different rates.) For example, many attorneys charge their full attorney rate for driving to the court house. I charge less for clerical or travel time--even if I am performing those services myself.
When I am charging for the time involved in performing legal services I currently use these rates:
$200.00 per hour for attorney time and
$60.00 per hour for clerical or travel time.
I reserve the right to change these published rates at any time. However, if you hire me as your attorney, we will have a written agreement which specifies the rates for that particular case.
For more information about Fees for Initial Consultation, please see that page.
There are times when people are not able to pay all of the fees for a case at one time. I am able to work out payment plans for my clients in some cases--however these plans are not an extension of credit!
In cases in which I charge for the time involved in performing legal services, I usually expect my client to deposit money into my attorney trust account. This is a special checking account that attorneys use to hold their client's money. I then draw from these funds as necessary to pay for my fees and other costs associated with the case. The attorney services agreement signed by my client and me will specify when and how much money is required to be deposited. If for any reason there is money left over in the trust account after all legal services have been concluded and paid for, the excess money will be refunded to the client.
In cases which are 100% agreed (as I have described above), I can agree to receive partial payments for flat fees under certain circumstances provided that the client agrees to the following: (1) the client must pay at least enough to cover the cost of legal services performed so far, (2) the client agrees that no documents will be prepared or filed with the Court until the full payment is made, and (3) the client agrees to make full payment within at least one year or the case is terminated and the money paid will not be refunded.
Please note: this website is designed to provide basic information about the services offered by my law firm. This is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice about your situation and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This information does not constitute an agreement to provide legal services.
- Mark W. Batchelder
© 2005, 2012 All rights reserved.
Mark W. Batchelder
Attorney at Law
Fort Worth, Texas