Many spouses haven’t a clue as to what is a “flat fee.” Having this information is very important. If your plane is going down over the ocean, knowing everything about a flat fee will save you. Well, not really. But I think you know what I mean. A flat fee is the cost of legal services that are not attached to a lawyer’s hourly rate. Meaning your fees don’t go up as the lawyer does more work; the cost you paid up-front (the flat fee) is all you have to pay to complete the services at hand. However, many spouses can’t see behind the ugly mask that the flat fee wears.
The ugliness of a flat fee is that its price tag, and at first impression, appears to be high. You’ll get sticker-shock for sure. When many divorce lawyers are asking for initial retainers (just to get the case started) at around $3,000, one must imagine something that costs 3-4 times as high, appears astronomical. When actually, it’s the best deal in town.
A great example of this dynamic was a recent client wanted a quote of what it would cost to complete his divorce (on a flat fee basis). I was going to be his third lawyer in a very acrimonious divorce. I assessed the facts, knew the opposing attorney, and blurted out $12,000 thinking the quote may have been too generous, on my part. He thought this was high, and opted to hire me on the standard retainer route, which only required $3,000 up front. $35,000 later, and he has a lot of regret.
Many spouses simply don’t appreciate that even in the most amicable divorces, each spouse could easily spend $5,000 to 10,000 in attorney’s fees. This is what has many spouses concerned about attorneys and the costs involved in a divorce, or any legal issue, for that matter. The flat fee fixes the problem.
Flat fees are not only designed to save the client money, they more so tailor the lawyer to do only the work necessary to complete the mission and get the client the best result. Lawyers working on a flat fee start to economize their work and time to make the case fit the fee, and not use the divorce case as an endless means of deriving income. No more are Judges rolling their eyes at spouses and lawyers arguing about a contested issue that should have been readily agreed upon.
When utilizing the flat fee, things get more efficient, lean, and to the point. And after all, isn’t that exactly what you want in your divorce?