No Trial Fees
I don’t talk about fees too much on here. As I indicated in my FAQ, while I do engage in volunteer work, my business is not sustainable to do the challenging and time-intensive work quality criminal defense requires for free. These days most people call a lawyer knowing that the lawyer will charge a fee for their services, just like dentists and accountants do. Professionals should be paid for their work, after all.
Unlike some practice areas criminal defense attorneys often, but not always, charge a flat fee for their work. A flat fee means what it sounds like: one fee to cover the cost of representation, instead of the lawyer billing by the hour. The reason I like flat fees is because the client knows what the cost of representation will be. Clients, rightfully, want to know how much a case is going to cost. Aside from the occasional expense like ordering documents or retaining an expert, a flat fee is an assurance that there won’t be hidden bills down the road. A client can budget for their lawyer, secure that they can still pay rent and buy food for their family.
So what are trial fees? Trial fees are an additional flat or hourly fee for a lawyer to take a case to trial. Under this model, the initial fee covers research and negotiations and court appearances up to trial, but an actual trial is another cost entirely.
I understand trial fees because as I’ve written about before, a trial is a lot of work. When a lawyer is in trial they’re not in their office making phone calls or working on other files. The rest of the work grinds to a halt. A trial fee is a way to recoup some of that lost productivity.
But I don’t like trial fees. I think they disincentivize a person from exercising their rights, even if they have a great case and a plea bargain does not make sense. And I really don’t like to see people plead guilty when they could win at trial.
So today my commitment to clients past and future is simple: no trial fees. Whatever the fee is in the beginning of the case, that’s the fee for the entire case, start to finish. If you want to go to trial, I won’t make a penny more. We’ll make the decision on the merits of the case, rather than what’s affordable.