Answer: When people have to call a lawyer for a serious accusation, they know it’s not going to be cheap and they know it’s not going to be free. If they wanted cheap, they’d call the public defender. But as a practical matter, they know that a person’s life is at stake. So the way I try to structure my fees is so that average, ordinary, working people can afford it and can budget for it and plan for it. I do not bill people by the hour.
I don’t do that because at the beginning of the case they have no idea how much they’re going to spend at the end. And there are lawyers who, frankly, are notorious for by the end of the case having billed them for 100 hours at a rate that ends up doubling the fee that they might have been able to hire a different, equally qualified lawyer for. So I use fixed, what we call retainers, or fixed advanced fees. And I require a fixed sum upfront for the first part of the case, the pre-trial, another larger fee for a trial if it’s going to go to trial and sometimes new charges or appeals come in and we talk about fees then.
This way my clients know before they pay me a single dime how much it’s going to cost for each stage of the case and they can budget for it, they can plan for it, they can go to family and ask for help. They can be assured that, barring unforeseen developments — and by that, I mean truly unforeseen — they know what it’s going to cost. The good thing about that is, going in they know whether they can afford a good lawyer.