Information regarding Payment of Legal Fees
At the Kitsilano Family Law Group, we understand that clients are usually concerned about the cost of legal services. We recognize that this is a valid concern as legal services can be expensive, and that for this reason it is important for clients to be clearly informed from the outset about the arrangements for payment for our services. We always discuss such arrangements with our clients fully and completely at the time that we are retained, and we also encourage our clients to talk to us at any time about any questions or concerns that they may have about fees and billing arrangements.
How are legal fees calculated?
One of the questions that clients often ask is “how much will this cost me?” Unfortunately in most family law cases it is impossible to give even a rough estimate about how much the total cost of a case will be. This is because in virtually all family law cases it is not possible to predict at the outset how the case will be resolved or how much work will be needed to resolve it. For this reason in most cases we must refrain from giving an estimate for the cost of a case.
One exception to this rule is an application for an uncontested divorce. In most cases in which there is no dispute about any issue and the only thing that the parties are seeking is a divorce, it is usually possible to give an estimate of the cost of the case and it may even be possible to come to an agreement that the work will be done for a flat fee. This arrangement will of course only be viable, and will only continue to be viable, for so long as there are no unforeseen complications and the application for divorce remains uncontested.
In virtually all other family law cases we, like other lawyers, charge for our services on the basis of an hourly rate. Hourly rates are usually based on seniority, with more experienced lawyers charging a higher hourly rate than junior lawyers. We charge our hourly rates for all of the services which we perform on your behalf, including but not limited to consultations, telephone calls, preparing and reviewing correspondence, preparation of documents, research, preparing for and conducting court applications, trials and appeals and negotiations with other lawyers.
When lawyers perform services for clients, they routinely incur out of pocket expenses, expenditures paid to third parties such as couriers and process servers and administrative costs for ongoing expenses such as photocopying or fax charges. These disbursements and other charges are billed separately from and in addition to legal fees.
Unfortunately we at Kitsilano Family Law, like all other businesses, must charge the federal Goods and Services Tax and the Provincial Sales Tax on all fees and on most disbursements.
When you first retain us, we will, like most lawyers, likely ask that you pay us a sum of money up front. This payment is called a “retainer”. When you pay your retainer to us, we will deposit it in our trust account and, when we issue a Statement of Account to you in connection with the services that we have performed on your behalf, we will use the retainer to pay, wholly or in part, this Statement of Account. We may at that time and as matters progress ask that you provide us with a further retainer or further retainers to cover ongoing or future work.
Statements of Account
At the Kitsilano Family Law Group it is our practice to issue Statements of Account on a monthly basis, although exceptions may be made in some cases. Like most lawyers, our policy is that, when we issue a Statement of Account to you, any outstanding balance will be due and payable by you upon receipt of that Statement of Account.