THE AWKWARD COVERSATION OF MONEY BETWEEN AN ATTORNEY AND THEIR CLIENTS:
How does one agree to the fees that will be payable?
When a client seeks legal advice, the first thing the attorneys should do is give the client their letter of engagement that sets out how the attorney bills. This creates a legal contract between the attorneys and client and ensures that the client understands what to expect.
Are deposits usually paid?
Deposits are usually required from clients in order to make sure that fee’s and disbursements are covered.
How does an attorney calculate their fees?
Attorneys calculate their fees usually taking into account the following factors:
- Amount of work needed to be done;
- Time periods that the work must be completed in;
- The urgency of the matter;
- The difficulty of the work; and
- Whether the attorney specializes in that field of law required.
What is an hourly rate?
An attorney’s hourly rate will depend on the attorney, who will take into account what work needs to be done in a matter based on his or her experience with previous matters for example the amount of time to be spent at court as well as drafting and perusing of documents.
The most important factor in an attorney’s hourly rate is usually the amount of knowledge they have and the years of practice they have under their belt.
Often, a more experienced attorney (normally more expensive) may work out more cost effective in the long run, as they are able to deal with matters more expeditiously.
What is a contingency fee?
This rarely happens and was previously not allowed in law until recently. The contingency fee agreement is an agreement that an attorney will only charge a client no more then his or her usual rate or 25% of the capital sum awarded. This however is on the condition that the client represented is successful.
An attorney may not wish to engage matters on a contingency basis, as the risk to the attorney is that they are unable to assess the full merits of the matter at the outset.
Meaning of certain fee terms used?
- Pro Bono – this is used when an attorney helps an indigent person who cannot afford legal help.
- Pro Amico – this is used when an attorney has a special relationship with another person. Fees are not payable but disbursements are.
- Costs De Bonis Propriis – this is when an attorney acts so negligently that the court shows its frustration that it orders the attorney to pay all the costs out of his own pocket.
In conclusion there are many ways in which fees can be calculated at. However, the most important thing is to make sure that you have a proper agreement with your attorney in order to know what fees you are liable for and what you are not.
At Schwenn Incorporated, we pride ourselves in going over and beyond for our clients and in being cost effective but also being able to give our clients work that goes beyond standard. Contact us today for any legal queries on 031 003 0630 or at Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.