One of many worst issues that may occur to a lawyer/consumer relationship is an unexpectedly excessive authorized invoice. Shoppers hate them. With the intention to keep away from such sad surprises, legal professionals of all kinds are ditching the hourly charge and using numerous Various Payment Preparations (or AFAs) which can be designed (in concept) to make each side happier.

For legal professionals, the important thing to utilizing AFAs is selecting a price construction that may end in getting paid pretty for one’s authorized providers whereas additionally convincing the consumer that the price being charged is certainly honest. This feat of mathematical magic requires legal professionals to grasp their enterprise totally—notably how a lot time numerous authorized providers are more likely to take—and to cost their providers utilizing the AFA that aligns greatest with the consumer’s authorized wants.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all AFA, however these are the commonest, and after they work greatest:

Fastened/Flat Charges

Charging a flat price for numerous authorized providers can work nicely for legal professionals who do routine work and know roughly how a lot time that work will take. Shoppers like flat charges as a result of there aren’t any surprises, despite the fact that they could pay much less in the event that they had been being charged hourly. The hazard is getting caught in a scenario the place you, the lawyer, find yourself investing way more time than you anticipated.

Fastened price + Success Payment

A method for a lawyer and consumer to share the danger of a matter collectively is to ascertain a hard and fast price (say 80% of 1’s regular charge) that requires the consumer to pay the remaining 20% provided that the matter is concluded efficiently. It’s mainly the identical as providing a 20% low cost for those who lose. And everybody loves a reduction, even—and maybe particularly—shoppers who lose.  On this case you’ll want to totally vet the issues you settle for with this price association to set your self up for achievement – each for the matter and your probability of fee.

Capped charges

In a capped-fee association, the lawyer expenses by the hour however agrees to a most “cap,” or restrict, to their price. Such an association reassures the consumer that their lawyer’s hourly billing is not going to get uncontrolled. For legal professionals, it means billing hourly, as common, however ensuring the time invested doesn’t blow the cap. To offer additional incentives, some legal professionals make use of so-called “danger collars,” equivalent to a bonus for the lawyer if their work is available in beneath finances, and a reduction for the consumer for work that inadvertently goes over finances.


Retainers are mainly a subscription-based mannequin for authorized providers, and legal professionals had been utilizing them lengthy earlier than Netflix got here alongside. Retainers will be collected upfront from shoppers or collected on a reoccurring schedule. This association makes probably the most sense for corporations which can be repeatedly concerned in authorized transactions of 1 type or one other, and for legislation companies with the sources to deal with pressing, spur-of-the-moment emergencies. Retainers will be profitable they usually present an everyday income stream. They can be a great indicator of a consumer’s potential to pay authorized charges; if they’ll’t pay a full or partial retainer now likelihood is they gained’t be capable to pay in your common billing cycle.  The draw back is that shoppers on retainer are inclined to count on a really excessive degree of service, and are sometimes decided to get their cash’s price out of the discount.


Put merely, contingency means you solely receives a commission for those who win. The plain recommendation: Win. Additionally, select your instances rigorously.

Hourly charge + Contingency

“Contingency” is mainly one other time period for “success price,” so on this association the lawyer payments by the hour, perhaps at a reduced charge, and collects the contingency price within the occasion of a win. Once more, the purpose right here is to supply the consumer with some measure of comfort ought to they lose, whereas additionally guaranteeing that you just receives a commission more-or-less pretty to your time, it doesn’t matter what the result.

Process-based billing

Reasonably than billing by the hour, task-based billing entails making a menu of charges for numerous providers and billing for the providers rendered somewhat than the lawyer’s time. For the lawyer, nevertheless, the price of the service must be tied to the period of time it takes. Once more, data of 1’s apply space is the important thing right here. Time is cash, irrespective of the way you slice and cube it.


Proportion preparations differ from straight-up contingency in that the share is usually based mostly on the worth of the matter being addressed, equivalent to a real-estate transaction or an insurance coverage payout. Percentages can work nicely in transactional conditions that aren’t winner-take-all.

Whichever AFA you select, needless to say the final word aim is to reach at a win-win price association that feels honest to each events. No lawyer can afford to offer away the shop, however sustaining a versatile perspective towards price buildings could make shoppers really feel extra snug and be surprisingly good for producing repeat enterprise.



Amy Larson is a Director in Small Legislation Agency Buyer Advertising and Firm Central at Thomson Reuters. She has over 17 years of expertise in know-how advertising with in depth deal with studying how know-how can meet the wants of attorneys. Amy has been concerned in quite a few product launches all through her tenure, public relations efforts, interviewing prospects and telling their tales, and sometimes writes and distributes data on authorized apply administration.


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