For most cases, the Atlanta Divorce Law Group works off the billable hour. What that means is when attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, or any members of the legal team work on a client’s file to move their case forward, they are tracking their time and billing for it at various rates.
Rates depend on a legal representative’s job title and increase or decrease according to their seniority, efficiency, and experience. Decisions about which lawyer to hire should not be based on their billable hour rate, as it can be misleading and may not represent how much a case is going to cost. An attorney’s billable hour rate indicates how efficiently they can work.
For example, a paralegal could bill at $175 per hour to draft and complete documents for an attorney to review and approve for $350 per hour. In those circumstances, hiring a paralegal to begin the process ensures that their client’s casework is being done in the most cost-effective way. Additionally, an attorney who bills at $375 per hour due to their experience and knowledge may be able to make substantial progress in 15 minutes, whereas an associate or a less-experienced lawyer who bills at $275 per hour may take hours because they do not have the knowledge to do it swiftly, efficiently, and effectively.
Clients should look to whether an attorney did due diligence on a case when deciding whether they are the right legal counsel for them. Not any lawyer can do that due diligence on their first consultation with an individual, as it requires a strategy session during which they are briefed on a case’s circumstances and can review documents prior to meeting with a client.
At a meeting with an individual, a seasoned attorney would actively listen to them, determine possible outcomes, and learn about the dynamics of their family in order to prepare a defense in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Once a plan is designed, they could build a budget for it.
The billable hour is not a good indicator of how much a case is going to cost. Retaining a lawyer with a cheap billable hourly rate might delay a case due to their lack of experience, which could end up costing a client excess time and money. The best way to maximize the value of a case is to work with a legal team that sits down with their clients from the start, reviews all their records and available evidence, listens to their goals and priorities, and creates detailed strategies on how to achieve those. A skilled attorney would actively engage with a client to create a strategy that is tailored to their unique circumstances.
Much of a lawyer’s strategy is usually based on how they believe an opposing party or family member may react to a certain thing. It involves making hypotheses about outcomes and interactions and building a proactive defense accordingly, and a legal representative’s budget would be based on their ability to complete this process. That is the best way to determine how much a case is going to cost, which is often especially important in family law cases because litigation can be financially detrimental.
Litigation tactics should be flexible if predictions made about an opposing party’s reactions do not come to fruition. A legal representative may need to alter the course of a case if their opponent acts unexpectedly, and they should discuss how that could impact their budget.
A claimant may retain an attorney by putting down a security deposit, which would be based on their type of case. It may be paid with any major form of payment like credit card, cash, check, or money order, and firms usually require a credit card to remain on file. Clients would receive a biweekly, itemized statement detailing exactly what progress was made in their case over the past two weeks. For example, they could see how much billable work went into each line item, who did it and for what value, and the cost of each item. On the following day, the firm will likely charge the credit card on file for their itemized list of services. This cycle would continue until the case concludes, after which a client would have their initial security deposit returned.
Other firms may charge a large retainer upfront without providing itemized statements for months, which can result in a client being unaware of what is going on in their case or in their trust account and retainer. Additionally, they may say they need another large retainer during a case, but coming up with a large sum of money could be difficult for some clients. Paying little by little is a lot easier for most people, and biweekly statements allow a client to access fresher memories to ask questions about the process. A lot could happen for a case in two weeks, so attorneys want people to be informed during every step.
There are some cases where flat rates are appropriate, but those are rare. The concern with flat rates is that clients might end up paying for more than what was actually accomplished, whereas attorneys who employ billable hours are able to make sure that clients only pay for work that they are doing through the use of due diligence and consistent updates. For more information about Atlanta Divorce Law Group attorney’s fees, call or go online to schedule a consultation.