In the Wild: Flat Fees Not So Simple
Spotted again in the wild is my recent article in the American Bar Association’s Litigation News. The article addresses flat fee arrangements. What at first blush may seem to be a simple alternative fee arrangement is actually more complicated and may vary from state-to-state and whether it is applied to a civil or criminal case.
In civil cases, flat or minimum fees paid in advance may be acceptable if the fee is in exchange for something done or to be done by the attorney. “A careful attorney would, in the engagement agreement, point out that all or a portion of a nonrefundable fee is deemed earned at the outset by virtue of the lawyer no longer being able to represent competitors of the client on other similar matters” says Hanthorn. He cautions, however, that states have differing views on minimum fee arrangements. “In some states, such as Texas, for a fee to be earned at the outset the full amount of that portion of the fee has to be attributable to representing one client and foregoing others.”