Time to Revamp Your Flat Fees?


Personal Productivity for Lawyers

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Nearly every one of the cases I handle is either handled on a flat-fee or it is a contingent case where I track my time for a possible attorney fees award.

We recently made some radical changes to our flat-fees and also are now reconsidering whether certain matters should be taken on an hourly basis. Have you taken a look at your billing menu recently?

Are your flat fee cases actually profitable?

We used to charge a flat fee for some cases, which included everything up to the pre-trial stage. This was based on a predictive model of what motions and actions it would take to resolve the case. We also knew, approximately, how much time needed to be spent on each step.

A few months ago, however, we noticed that the other side is changing how they approach these cases. Instead of the case progressing as A, B, C, it became A, X, 2, *, and F. Not only were there additional steps, they were also steps we would never taken before, which meant we were spending more time on those steps.

The bottom line was that the cases were not very profitable. If, on the other hand, you can accurately predict how a case will proceed, flat fees still make sense.

How about an ala carte menu?

We still offer to handle those cases on a flat fee, but the retainer is higher now. Instead, we are trying a menu-based option. Step A costs a certain amount, Step B costs a certain amount, etc. That way, we can control our time and make sure we are getting paid for every step.

Flat fees can still work, but make sure you revisit your fees on a regular basis to ensure those cases are profitable.

(Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/finitefocus/3307858934)


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