Legal Fees

Maybe, but can you afford the cost of no representation or bad representation?

The legal system is an extremely complicated web of regulations, statutes and complex case law. Navigating it without the help of a skilled professional can actually lead to an even bigger mess. Having said that, you certainly have the right to represent yourself. Often, you really can’t afford not to have quality representation.

There is an old saying, however, that says, "He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client."

What is the Basis for a Legal Fee? We've all heard the saying "time is money." In the simplest sense of the phrase, this is quite true for lawyers as well. Abraham Lincoln once said, "A lawyer's time and advice is his stock and trade."

The time that goes into developing an effective solution to a client's legal problem is often the primary basis for any lawyer's fees. Much of the work a lawyer accomplishes is done when the client isn't present. Specialized training, years of experience, and hours of research and preparation go into each and every case a lawyer takes, even though it may only take a few moments for the lawyer to relay his final conclusions and advice.

Here at the Law Offices of Mike Mastracci, most of our cases are handled on a flat rate whenever possible, based on the size and scope of your particular case, with the exception of personal injury cases which typically work on a contingency. In Divorce and Child Custody cases hourly rates are most typical. We are committed to being as open and transparent as possible, meaning we don't nickel and dime our clients. In the initial consultation, we provide potential clients with a fair and accurate estimate tailored to their situation, based on the information provided. Recently, we have been offering monthly payment plans to qualified clients.

How are fees computed? You should always discuss estimated overall costs during the initial consultation. Even though we may not be able to provide you with the exact costs for your particular case, we can provide you with an estimate based on past experience. We suggest that during the initial consultation, you be as forthright as possible with us about the scope of your case so that we can provide you with as close to accurate estimate of fees possible and so that there are no surprises later on. It is important that you fully understand all of the money issues relative to ongoing representation.

If you ever have a question about a particular fee on a statement, please do not hesitate to ask. We believe in an open and transparent lawyer - client relationship. We will provide you with a written fee agreement that must be signed by both parties before moving forward with a case. You should always keep a copy of all agreements and correspondence between you and your lawyer.

Hourly Rate: In most family law cases, fees are calculated based on a fixed hourly rate that will never be increased as long as you are a client. Obviously, the more time a lawyer must invest to properly represent you, the higher your overall fees will be.

Contingency Agreement: Generally speaking, contingency fees are charged for auto accidents, workers' compensation cases, and malpractice and general negligence cases. The lawyer receives no fee unless money is recovered for the client, in which case, the lawyer receives a percentage of the total awarded. The percentage is dependent upon the scope and complexity of the case, the amount recovered, as well as the area of practice. These costs may include investigators, medical reports, and depositions. When no contingency fee arrangement has been made, the lawyer will expect to be paid whether you win or lose the case.

However, at the Law Offices of Michael A. Mastracci you pay no fees or expenses in any personal injury case, including automobile accidents, until we win your case and at that time the fees and expenses are simply deducted from your settlement.

We like to say that in personal injury cases, it is our job to put money into your pockets not to take it out.

Of course, we cannot guarantee the outcome of any court proceeding. All matters pertaining to fees should be detailed in a written fee agreement and signed by both the representing lawyer as well as the client.

When must legal fees be paid? In many cases, other than in personal injury claims, we may require an advance payment, frequently referred to as a retainer, before agreeing to undertake the work. Some retainers are required only to assure availability, but most are considered as credit against services to be performed or will be applied to costs incurred from your legal matter.

Charges for services rendered not covered by the retainer should be paid upon receipt. If you believe that you will not be able to pay the legal fees promptly, discuss this with us ahead of time so that we can arrange a payment schedule. All of this will be laid out in the written fee agreement.

What can I do to reduce legal fees?

  • Write down the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all persons involved in your legal matter, as well as all the facts pertaining to your case. Doing this yourself will reduce the amount of time the lawyer must spend gathering information.
  • Take any papers relating to your legal matter to your initial consultation.
  • Be as brief as possible in all interviews with your lawyer without leaving out any of the facts.
  • Be as accurate as possible when relaying the facts of your legal matter.
  • Consult us promptly, if you anticipate filing a civil claim, are facing criminal charges, have a family legal matter, or are facing a trial for a traffic violation.
The sooner your lawyer is brought into the matter, the better we can advise you and protect your rights.

Your lawyer can obtain statements from the witnesses while their memories are fresh; this helps to assure that the true facts are presented. When possible, get your lawyer's advice before giving any interviews or statements.

Remember – although your lawyer works for you, it would be wise to follow the advice and professional recommendations that you have sought.