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The Law Offices of Lauren A. Harris Overview


What are the steps when hiring an attorney?

Assuming first, after consultation, you want to hire the attorney and the attorney wants to take your case/matter:

1) The attorney drafts your Attorney-Client Agreement, which lays out the fee structure and payment method for your particular case, and details the purpose of the representation, as well as the rights, responsibilities and duties of both the attorney and the client.  

2) Both the Client and the Attorney sign the Agreement.

3) As soon as payment is received (unless it is a contingency-fee agreement, where no payment is due by the client), then the attorney proceeds with the steps for competently and expediently representing you in your matter. 

When hiring an attorney, -when - how -and what do i pay ?
There are three overarching methods that attorneys bill:

1) Flat Fee: a one-time payment of a set amount, without refund.

2) Retainer & Billable Hours: a payment amount is made by the client and the funds are placed into the attorney's trust account. The attorney has set their billable hour rate as designated in the Attorney-Client Agreement, and as the attorney works on your case, they keep a running tally within an invoice of what they worked on and how long it took them. At a designated time, weekly, monthly, daily, or whenever agreed upon in the Attorney-Client Agreement, the attorney removes only the amount of funds from the retainer for which they have billed.  When removing these funds, the attorney sends an invoice to the client detailing how much was removed, based on what tasks, the time each task took, and how much remains of the retainer in the trust account. When the retainer gets low, the client pays a new amount, agreed to by attorney and client, to replenish the retainer. This amount reflects how much or little the attorney estimates is necessary to proceed with the particular matter. If the representation is concluded, or the attorney-client relationship is terminated, the unbilled portion of the retainer is then returned to the client; 

3) Contingent-Fee: the client does not pay the attorney any money until a settlement or judgment is reached. Therefore, payment of attorney's fees depends on a successful recovery. In general, this means that if the client does not recover through a settlement or verdict, then he or she will not be charged. If there is a recovery, a percentage of that total amount recovered, agreed upon in the Attorney-Client Agreement, is given to the attorney from the total amount. In this type of fee arrangement, the attorney fronts all expenses and is also recouped those expenses from the recovery.


Additionally, a hybrid of any or all three billing arrangements or fee agreements can be created. Depending on the circumstances of your case, there are many different ways to structure a fee agreement. Examples can include blending a discounted hourly rate with a discounted contingency fee, billing a flat fee for the first aspect of representation, and hourly after an event, or setting a threshold retainer for hourly billing and then proceeding with a contingency fee. Please call the Law Offices of Lauren A. Harris to discuss the different ways that we can structure a fee agreement to suit your situation.


What about services like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer? Don’t they do the same thing?

No, services like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer do not provide legal advice, and they are not law firms. Rather, they provide access to generic forms that you complete on your own. These forms are not typically customized to your particular situation, and can include boilerplate terms which can often be inapplicable and problematic for your individual scenario. While you can certainly use these services, in our experience, doing so can ultimately cost you more money to fix later issues, than it would have been to do it right the first time; especially when you have an important matter, new business venture or significant transaction that should be completed correctly to protect your interests down the road.

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