Each of the Portland criminal defense attorneys at the law firm of Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C., is given the freedom to structure their own fee agreements with individual clients as they see fit. We feel that each client and each case is unique, and our individualized approach to client representation begins with our fee agreements. We strive for complete transparency and honesty in our fee agreements. Generally speaking, there are two forms of fee agreements utilized in our office: The hourly fee agreement and the flat fee agreement.
Hourly Fee Structures
Keeping in mind that every case and client is different, hourly rates for attorney's fees will vary between $250-$420 per hour. Factors that typically go into setting the actual rate often include the nature and type of case, relative time pressures, the novelty or complexity of the case, or issues raised therein etc. Typically, there is a minimum fee set by your attorney before he will engage the client and case. Hourly fee agreements are usually billed monthly against an agreed upon retainer sum which the client has deposited into the firm’s trust account. Each month the attorney invoices the client and deducts the appropriate amount from the trust account. The client replenishes the trust account upon receipt of the invoice until the case is concluded. Any retainer funds unearned by the attorney are returned to the client at the conclusion of the case.
Often, our clients have discreet matters in which the outcome or a range of outcomes can be predicted with some degree of certainty. In these situations, our Portland criminal defense lawyers and clients will often negotiate a flat fee for all services necessary to accomplish the stated goal(s). Examples of such agreements include:
- Pre-charge representation: These agreements cover situations where a client has been arrested or is being investigated but no formal charges have been made. They often involve document and evidence review, utilization of private defense investigators and negotiations with law enforcement or prosecuting authorities.
- Trial representation: These agreements are most common and are entered into after a client has been formally charged in federal or state court. These agreements may contain clauses that deal with fees and expenses at each distinct stage of the case. For example, there may be different costs and fees associated with different stages of litigation chosen by the client. A negotiated plea agreement for example will often be a less expensive proposition than a jury trial.
- Appellate or Other representation types: Our clients often face additional proceedings, either in conjunction with or as a result of the primary matter for which we have been retained. These can be appeals from criminal convictions, civil or criminal property forfeiture, or even civil rights litigation. We discuss these issues on an individualized basis.
When we negotiate attorney fees, we also negotiate what other fees and costs the client will be responsible for during the life of his or her case. Typically, we do not charge our clients for routine business expenses (legal research costs, regular postage, local travel, copying costs, etc.). Special provisions are made for more extraordinary expenses (long distance phone calls, airfare or overnight travel, etc.).
It is common for our attorneys to recommend that the client also retain the services of outside experts and private investigators to assist in the preparation of his or her case and his or her defense. Payment of the costs and fees incurred by the use of these third parties is always the client's responsibility. However, The use of such third parties must be agreed to by the client and is only authorized after the client is fully informed of the need for their retention and with full disclosure of their potential cost.
Before any client retains one of our lawyers, he or she will have an exceptionally clear idea of what the potential range of costs and fees will be in his or her case. Again, every case and individual are unique. We make every effort to work with our clients in coming to acceptable terms of representation.
Individual Attention, Decades of Legal Experience
To learn more about our fee structures and how they may impact your case, speak with us. Contact us online or call (503) 303-0771 to schedule a free and confidential meeting to discuss your case.