FAQ on Fees and Retainers

FAQ on Fees and Retainers

“What is your billing rate?”

Answer:

David Zachary Kaufman’s billing rate is normally $390.00 per

hour. Associates, of counsel and other attorneys who may be

involved in your case will bill between $150.00/hour and

$300.00/hour depending on their experience and what tasks they

are asked to do. Paralegals will bill between $75.00 and

$125.00 per hour, again depending upon their experience and

what they will be asked to do.

“Do you ever reduce your fee?”

Answer:

Under certain circumstances Kaufman Law is willing to engage

in creative billing. Usually these cases have some redeeming

social value (in the sole opinion of David Zachary Kaufman) or

make some sort of provision for a large bonus upon success. But

the client must be prepared to advance the costs of the lawsuit.

These costs include (but are not limited to) court filing fees,

service costs, faxing copying and scanning costs, the costs of

depositions and travel (if needed) and the cost of expert

witnesses.

“Does Kaufman Law take cases on contingency?”

Answer:

Kaufman Law will, under certain circumstances, take a case on

contingency or use some other form of creative billing. But,

even on a pure contingency case, you will have to advance the

costs of the lawsuit. These costs include (but are not limited to)

court filing fees, service costs, faxing copying and scanning

costs, the costs of depositions and travel (if needed) and the cost

of expert witnesses. It is my experience that having a firm stake

in the litigation increases the sense of teamwork that successful

litigation requires. If you are unwilling to do this, you will not

be happy with the results of the case.


“We’re all businessmen. Why do you need such a large retainer?”

Answer:

I am in the business of minimizing your business’s risk,

improving your business’s return, protecting your

assets, and getting you out of trouble. What does it say about my

abilities as an attorney if I can’t (or won’t) protect myself and

minimize my own risks?

“What is a retainer?”

Answer:

A retainer is a deposit, placed into a state-regulated escrow

account, over which tight controls are maintained, governed by

strict rules, including that I cannot take money from the escrow

retainer account and deposit it into my operating account until I

have earned it by performing the services I promised. If I take

an up-front “prepayment” and put it right into my operating

account, the powers that be in Virginia, Maryland and

Washington, D.C. (the jurisdictions where I am admitted to the

Bar) would view that as illegal. In addition, before I can

withdraw money from the escrow account and move it to my

operating account I must send you an invoice and have waited a

reasonable time for the client to question or protest before I can

make the transfer of client funds into my operating account.


“What is an `Evergreen’ retainer and why do you use it?

Answer:

Kaufman Law uses an “evergreen” retainer system whereby you

(the client) make a rational up-front deposit, which is depleted

periodically by invoices and replenished following the rendering

of an invoice. Thus, for example (using round #s), a client may

start off a matter by making a $10K retainer deposit; the first

month’s invoice is for $2,500 in time charges and disbursements;

10 days later I transfer the funds out of escrow and into my

operating account; presumably before the time comes for me to

render the next invoice, I receive the client’s replenishment

check for $2,500, bringing the retainer deposit account back to

the designated $10K level, keeping it “evergreen.” This process

continues, with the retainer account balance intended never to

dip lower than one month’s billings and not for more than a week

or two at a time.

Thus, the lawyer and client both are protected by the process –

indeed, terminating the relationship is far easier for the client

than for the lawyer; if the client is dissatisfied, there likely will

be a refusal to replenish, and so not too much money would be

“at risk”; the terms of the retainer agreement include that at the

conclusion of the matter for whatever reason and in whatever

fashion, the lawyer gets paid for work performed and the

remaining balance gets cheerfully refunded directly to the client;

the lawyer has the incentive to keep each month’s bills rational

or the client may choose to protest, refuse to replenish, or

terminate the relationship.