Many people are hesitant to hire an attorney due to concerns about costs and cost-effectiveness. In most areas of business, you can clearly find financial information on a firm's web site or by asking. However, with legal fees, the amounts charged can be a mystery.
In order to make the process of selecting an attorney as easy as possible, Stafford Law Office, LLC has chosen to provide some basic information on its rates here so that you may compare our rates to those of other firms and have a better understanding of what is involved in hiring an attorney. We also discuss rates and estimates of total costs at our initial consultations.
Initial Trust Deposit
Most law firms charge an upfront fee to get started on your case, sometimes called a 'retainer fee' but more properly called an 'Initial Trust Deposit.' Many clients wonder what that Initial Trust Deposit represents. It is not an estimate of what the total costs might be. The Initial Trust Deposit is basically a down payment against attorney fees. It may help to compare our Initial Trust Deposit to a security deposit you would pay when renting an apartment. At Stafford Law Office, LLC, as at all law firms, we place Initial Trust Deposits in a special Client Trust Account, completely separate from our operating funds. Any minimal interest earned on the client deposits goes to a fund run by the Indiana Bar Foundation that provides legal services to low-income people. Your Initial Trust Deposit stays in the our Client Trust Account until we close your case, at which time we apply it against your final bill, refunding any leftover portion. If you are late on a payment, we reserve the right to transfer funds from your trust account. Of course, if the remainder in your trust account ledger is insufficient to cover your final bill, you will need to pay the difference. Similarly, if there is leftover money, you will receive a refund of that amount. Clients are required to keep the deposit amount replenished at at least half of the initial amount. Our Initial Trust Deposits for family law cases range from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the complexity of the case. When you have your initial consultation, the attorney will discuss the Initial Trust Deposit with you.
Almost every case we handle is billed on an hourly basis. Your attorney tracks his or her time in six minute increments and provides a detailed statement of fees each month for your review and payment. Rates in Southern Indiana tend to range from $150/hour to $350/hour. At Stafford Law Office, LLC, attorney rates range from $200/hour to $275/hour. Our paralegal rate is $90/hour. This provides a cost-savings for our clients on tasks such as document drafting, and the necessary back-and-forth with other attorneys and the courts.
Your hourly rate and your total fee charged will depend on the type of case and upon the number of hours which must be devoted to your case. You are entitled without obligation to an estimate of the fee likely to be charged. The number of hours necessary for quality representation on your case will depend partly on you and your goals, but also upon the other side, on the level of compromise that can be reached, and on other matters that might be outside either of our control. You are always welcome to ask questions about your bill.
Each month, around the 20th, we will produce a Statement of Attorney Fees and send it to you. That statement will include the time spent and details of each activity undertaken on your matter, plus a total amount due. You will have at least ten days to review the statement and ask any questions you might have. By the fifth of the following month, payment is due is our office. We do accept MasterCard, Visa, and Discover.