John Watson Law Group LLC

Fee Structures

There is generally no charge by this office for a brief initial consultation regarding a potential case.

 Fees are determined on a case by case basis.  While many business cases can be handled on a contingency (percentage) basis, others are handled on an hourly basis.  Some types of work only lend themselves to hourly billing, such as defense, drafting of agreements, ITAR and training matters.  Generally, a retainer is requested against which the hourly rate is billed.    In some commercial cases, there may be circumstances where a split fee arrangement is utilized, e.g., ½ the normal hourly and ½ the normal contingent rate.  The fee structure must be agreed to between the attorney and the client.

 You, as a potential client, may sometimes encounter the following terms when discussing contingent fees with collection agencies and some law firms.  You need to understand these terms in order to understand the overall fee structure.

  • Contingent fee rate- This is often only the base rate, e.g., 20%.
  • Contingent suit fee- This is an additional fee charged, over and above the base contingent rate, if funds are collected.  E.g., there could be a contingent suit fee of an additional 15%.  With a collection of $10,000, the base rate of 20% would be $2,000, and the contingent suit fee of 15% an additional $1,500, for a total fee of $3,500.
  • Advance non-contingent fee- While the base contingent rate and the contingent fee are contingent upon collection of funds, the advance non-contingent suit fee is an advance sum paid in advance that is not contingent upon collection.  In other words, a 5% advance non-contingent fee on a $10,000 matter would be $500 due upfront and would be earned merely upon starting work on the case.  The advance non-contingent fee is generally credited against the contingent suit fee if collection is made.  In the above example, the $500 advance fee may be included in the $1,500 contingent suit fee.
  • Court costs- The client is quoted a sum as a deposit against court costs and out of pocket expenses.  This generally includes court filing costs for the complaint, sheriff’s or special process server fees, garnishment costs, and the like.  Some firms also charge for copies, parking and travel expenses, depending on the arrangement for the case in question.  The client should understand the fee structure and the expenses for which it is responsible before proceeding.


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