When a client meets with an attorney to initiate a legal action, there are many topics that are discussed during the initial consultation. One of the topics that often stands out to the client is the discussion of attorney’s fees. Each office has a different system in which they bill for attorney and legal staff time while pursuing the action.
Sometimes attorneys charge for their time on a contingency fee basis. This means the attorney does not bill the client for their time hourly, but instead agrees to be compensated when the case has concluded for a portion of the settlement. This is often attractive to the client because he/she does not have to write a check for the attorney’s time every month and if the case is unsuccessful, the attorney will only be reimbursed for the costs incurred while pursing the action.
Some cases cannot be pursued on a contingency fee basis, such as divorce matters, the drafting of a Last Will and Testament and estate matters, to name a few. For these types of cases, attorneys will bill the client for their time and their staff’s time on an hourly basis. The client may be asked to pay the attorney a retainer to initiate the action, and then the attorney will bill the client monthly once the retainer has been depleted.
If a case settles before the attorney’s billable time uses the entire amount of the client’s retainer, then the client should be reimbursed the unused portion. If you think your attorney improperly charged you or failed to refund the unused portion of your retainer, call us, we can help you consider your legal malpractice options.