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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Washington, District of Columbia, United States
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    3

    Default Lawyer's Estimate for Completion of Work Exceeds the Initial Estimate

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Virginia

    I originally posted about my issue here: http://www.expertlaw.com/forums/showthread.php?t=184250

    When I hired my lawyer, he said the matter would probably cost about $750. I sent him a check for that amount as retainer. I spoke with him yesterday and asked for an update regarding how much, if anything I owed him.

    He sent me an invoice, and the work so far (1.5 hours) added up to $650. There is some additional work that needs to be done (he is sending the company a counter offer to add a liquidated damages clause if they breach and also remove one way attorney's fees clause they put in their settlement offer). He said that the total ultimately would likely cost $650 + the retainer.

    I asked if it was alright to pay him after the settlement is completed, and he said that he prefers to be paid now. I said I will mail a check out to him by Monday of next week.

    I was wondering if this is all standard practice and above board, or if something is fishy? I have never hired a lawyer before, so I am not a 100% sure about what to be on the lookout for.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Lake Chapala
    Posts
    2,958

    Default Re: Standard Practice for Lawyers

    Attorneys will take cases on contingency (meaning they will postpone fees until after settlement) only if they are 100% certain they will win a settlement. If they are less than 100% certain of winning a settlement, they will expect their clients to pay as their cases proceed. Given that most cases aren't 100% slam-dunks, what you're experiencing is pretty normal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Standard Practice for Lawyers

    While lawyers will avoid taking cases on contingency that they don't think that they can win, and nobody is going to turn down a sure thing, there's risk inherent in any litigation and lawyers do take cases based upon a reasonable probability of success. If this matter is expected to be resolved in @3 hours, though, the services the lawyer was hired to perform fall far short of litigating a lawsuit.

    When you hire a lawyer on an hourly basis, it is perfectly reasonable for the lawyer to bill you for the work he has performed on your case. An estimate may be accurate, but it is only an estimate. If you want to negotiate a flat fee agreement with a lawyer, you should do exactly that instead of entering into an hourly arrangement.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,454

    Default Re: Standard Practice for Lawyers

    Quote Quoting eerelations
    View Post
    Attorneys will take cases on contingency (meaning they will postpone fees until after settlement) only if they are 100% certain they will win a settlement.
    That’s overstating it a bit. Lawyers do not insist on 100% certainty that they will win a settlement or judgment before taking a case on a contingency fee basis. Instead, they make a decision based on the risk and potential pay off of the case as to whether it is worth taking on a contingent fee basis. Very few tort cases (which are the most common type of case handled on a contingent fee basis) are truly slam dunk wins. There is risk in most every case. Some more than others. And the potential to win is not the only factor. The potential award matters, too. A lawyer isn't going to be interested in a case on contingent fee that has only the potential to win $1000 even if it was slam dunk because the amount of work needed to get his share of that $1000 is easily going to exceed the value of the time he puts into it. One the other hand, a lawyer might take a case that he judges has only a 50% chance of success but that has the potential to award say, up to $10 million. Each tort lawyer has a different cut off of the risk/reward potential of a case that he is willing to take. So if one lawyer won't do it on contingent fee, try another and perhaps the next one will. But if after seeing several lawyers they all turn you down, that’s a pretty good indication the case isn't worth enough to do on contingent fee given the risk and thus might not be a case worth pursuing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,504

    Default Re: Standard Practice for Lawyers

    Attorneys may also take a case on contingency because of the publicity it may garner or the opportunity to make law.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Standard Practice for Lawyers

    Those would more likely be grounds to take a case for a reduced fee or pro bono, than for switching from hourly billing to a contingency fee.

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