Need A Flat Fee Attorney-Client Contract?
With the law constantly being in a state of flux and people’s everyday lives changing by the moment, it has become very important for practitioners to memorialize virtually everything they do in a case, as much to facts, preserve conversations and agreements as well as protect themselves should a dispute or disagreement over their employment occur. In cases where an attorney is retained either on a flat fee (minimum retainer basis), there is a simple solution to this problem. It is the flat fee attorney client contract. The flat fee contract simply defines what specific actions the attorney is retained for as well as the specific client cost of those actions. Here is a flat fee attorney-client contract I have been using for many years. While it is no better than most any other lawyer’s flat fee contract, it can provided a starting point for you to develop you own flat fee contract.
As I indicated in Part One of my blog on Attorney-Client contracts, the legal profession today is in always in a state of flux. The law is fast-moving, ever-changing, and adding new lawyers, litigants and various third parties such as beneficiaries, heirs, etc. Sadly, gone forever are the days of the country lawyer doing business on a handshake or relying on a promise. The unwary lawyer today who works on a promise will likely find himself penniless. The bottom line is still the same, you can’t trust everyone, so you have to trust yourself. Every lawyer should have a written attorney-client contract in every case. That’s right, every case.
Over the past twenty-five (25) years of practicing, I told you that I have heard every excuse, story, and scam that could be conceived by defendants who seek to avoid their monetary obligation to their attorneys. Over time, I have created several specific attorney-client contracts, in this case a flat fee attorney-client contract, that while ever evolving in its’ terms, will substantially protect the lawyer from non-payment and deceptive practices. Again, I don’t submit that this flat fee attorney-client contract is better than any other contract written by any other lawyer, but it does provide a good basic starting point and it is immediately useable which again will substantially protect the lawyer and his legal fee until you can tailor make this contract into your own contract.
FLAT FEE ATTORNEY-CLIENT CONTRACT
_________________________________ (referred to in this contract as Client) of _______________________ County, Kentucky, requests and authorizes ___________________ (referred to in this contract as Attorney), located at ___________________________ to represent Client as his/her Attorney in fact and in law as related to________________________________________________ (e.g., “a divorce proceeding between X and Y for which Attorney will conduct negotiations and make court appearances necessary to securing separation, custody, property and dissolution agreements, including a final decree, but not including an appeal”) and against all additional persons, firms, or corporations who may appear to be related to this case.
Compensation for Attorney’s services shall be based on a flat fee arrangement for a very specific service.
(1) Client will pay Attorney a flat minimum (non-refundable) fee of $____________, prior to the commencement of any legal work by Attorney. In case of a dispute between the parties and itemization is requested or required, Attorney will then bill his hourly rate of Three Hundred Dollars ($300) for Attorney’s time spent in any and all matters pertaining to this case, including, but not limited to: research, writing, consultation, conference with opposing parties, discovery, depositions, court appearance, hearings, motion practice, trial (one only), telephone calls, electronic mail and any and all other matters specifically related to the case described above.
(2) If it is necessary to incur certain court costs in order to successfully complete this case, Client agrees to immediately pay for all court costs, office expense, costs of copies ($.25 per page), prior to Attorney incurring same.
(3) The parties agree that the above fee is for this particular case only and excludes any re-trial or appeal without a separate specific signed contract. Client acknowledges that Attorney shall be under no obligation to take any further action on Client’s behalf after the resolution of this matter, whether it be by settlement, bench opinion or jury verdict, unless or until attorney has been specifically retained to do so by separate specific contract.
(4) Client agrees to pay any and all reasonable attorney fees, costs and expenses incurred in the collection of this account pursuant to KRS 411.195.
(5) Client further agrees that any unpaid or outstanding fees, charges, costs or expenses over thirty (30) days shall be subject to interest at the rate of twelve (12%) percent per annum and Client expressly agrees to pay same.
(6) Client hereby expressly grants Attorney a priority lien for outstanding or unpaid attorney fees, costs and expenses in any recovery in this matter, whether by litigation, negotiation, or otherwise and expressly acknowledges that any such lien shall be paid PRIOR to disbursement of any settlement funds to Client.
(1) Client will not be billed for Attorney’s time in the preparation or discussion of this employment contract or in discussions concerning disputes over billing. Secretarial time will be charged for the preparation of the original document and copies, the charge to be included in the estimate of additional costs.
(2) Client will pay a flat minimum fee (nonrefundable) of Dollars ($ ) and receive a signed receipt from Attorney for said amount prior to the onset of any work to be performed by Attorney.
(3) Client will not receive a statement of services performed by attorney in the case along with the corresponding time and charge involved; and the additional costs incurred upon request.
(4) All costs and expenses are exclusive of the flat fee arrangement. The current balance of the client’s account will be indicated in each itemized statement until the full fee has been paid in full.
(5) All Attorney fees will be deducted from the minimum flat (non-refundable) fee.
(6) Attorney shall receive no other compensation in any manner or form other than that provided for expressly by this flat fee agreement.
ATTORNEYS RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
(1) Copies of pleadings, briefs, memoranda and relevant correspondence will be provided to client upon request and by electronic mail only so as to defray costs to both parties.
(2) Attorney shall freely and frankly discuss the strategy and progress of the case with Client upon request. Attorney will consult and obtain permission of Client before taking any action which may significantly affect the outcome or cost of the proceedings.
(3) Attorney will not under any circumstance agree to settle a case without the prior consent of Client.
(4) Withdrawal from representation by Attorney is mandatory upon discharge by Client.
(5) All communications between Attorney and Client shall be and remain confidential and not be disclosed unless authorized by Client.
(6) The parties agree that Attorney may, in his sole discretion and at no additional cost to Client, consult, hire, retain other persons and/or discuss Client’s case with same in an effort to provide better representation to Client.
(7) The parties agree that due to Attorney’s heavy court and trial schedule as well as his frequent travel to other counties, Attorney may, in his sole discretion, allow such persons (attorneys only) to appear in court, sign motions, and attend scheduled court hearings or matters as may be necessary to the non-disruption of Attorney’s practice of law.
CLIENT’S RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
(1) Client agrees to disclose truthfully all relevant information to Attorney upon request.
(2) Client will make (himself/herself) and any documents, persons or things under the client’s control available to Attorney at reasonable times and places for such conferences, inspections, discussions and legal proceedings as may be necessary from time to time.
(3) Client will promptly notify Attorney of any change in Client’s address or phone number.
(4) In an effort to increase client participation and to reduce costs, Client will, at the sole discretion and direction of the Attorney, perform these tasks: (e.g., locating evidence, contacting witnesses, filing documents with court clerk, etc.).
(5) Failure of Client to seek counsel of Attorney, before taking any action which may affect the course or resolution of the case represents sufficient grounds for Attorney withdrawal from employment.
(6) Attorney may withdraw from employment with notice to Client for any reason.
(7) In the event of withdrawal, Attorney will withdraw in writing with notice to Client.
(8) Client agrees to immediately pay any and all retainers, bills, costs and expenses when presented. The parties agree that any failure of Client to pay any of the foregoing shall result in Attorney’s withdrawal the case.
(1) Attorney and Client recognize the benefits of maintaining a harmonious working relationship. Both agree to discuss openly any cause of dissatisfaction and to seek reconciliation. Client will not be billed for any such discussion.
(2) Should either party believe itself to be seriously wronged or believe that the terms of this contract have been substantially violated, resolution shall be sought through binding arbitration by a third party mutually agreed to by both Attorney and Client. In the event suit is filed by either party against the other party, the parties agree that the proper venue for such filing is Jefferson County, Kentucky, and that all such suits shall be filed only in Jefferson County, Kentucky.
DISCLAIMER OF GUARANTEES OR WARRANTIES
Because the law is constantly in a state of flux and ever-changing and developing and litigation is by its very nature, speculative, the parties acknowledge that no guarantees or warranties or promises of outcome have been made by Attorney with respect to the successful prosecution and termination of this case. All expressions made by Attorney about the varied and possible outcomes or resolutions of this matter case are matters of Attorney’s best professional opinion only, and based on a number of ever-changing factors, any of which could impact resolution of the matter.
LAW TO GOVERN CONTRACT
The laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky shall govern the construction and interpretation of this agreement.
This contract has been read, understood, signed and attested on this day of , 2015, by the undersigned.