Did a Big Law Firm’s Fee Quote Stop You From Pursuing Your Rights? Seek a Smaller Firm and Creative Fee Options
February 23, 2014 Leave a comment
Have you had a big legal dispute brewing, contacted a large law firm, and been scared off by their estimate of legal fees? If so, you are certainly not alone. You should not, however, let one unaffordable quote scare you off from pursuing your matter.
Instead, consider doing two things: (1) contact a different law firm, in particular a smaller law firm (also known as a “boutique” law firm) that focuses on your area of need – government contracting or otherwise- and get another quote; and (2) be creative, and ask about different types of fee arrangements. For example, if the quoted fee that was too high was for hourly-billed legal fees, then ask a different firm whether different options are available, such as a lower hourly fee, a contingency fee, a flat fee, or a hybrid fee (mix of contingency and reduced- hourly or flat fee).
A smaller law firm may pleasantly surprise you in three ways. First, they may surprise you with a much lower quote for legal fees. Keep in mind that the big firm’s quote that scared you off may have contained some overhead and expenses that smaller firms do not have, such as marble-pillared offices and entry-level associates who do not know what they are doing yet, but are still paid large salaries. Big law firms pass on such costs to clients in the form of higher billing rates.
Smaller law firms have smaller overhead. They tend to have lower office rents, or operate virtually, passing on the cost savings to you in form of lower billing rates. In addition, at a smaller firm an experienced lawyer– e.g. one who can prepare a case in 5 hours rather than the 20 it might take an inexperienced associate– usually handles your case, passing on work efficiency, and thus, lower billed hours, to you. We, the blog authors, are conscious of the cost of litigation and work with you to come up with creative fee arrangements to make the pursuit of your claim financially feasible. If pursuing your rights is important to you, it is important to us.
Second, a small firm may surprise you with the quality and experience of its attorneys. Boutique law firms tend to focus on specific areas of law, developing the same, if not more, experience and knowledge as attorneys from large law firms.
In the blog-authors’ case, we focus on litigation and federal government contracting. Between us, we have worked as attorneys for large government entities and corporations, have served in leadership roles in prominent legal organizations, and have worked on litigation and class actions involving substantial damages and novel legal issues featured in major media coverage. This type of experience is not unusual for small firms to have, if you do the research and check them out.
And three, small law firms can be more personal and more responsive with their client services. A common complaint of clients is not being able to reach their attorneys. With a smaller law firm, you are more likely to be working directly with the attorney rather than layers of staff. For example, the blog authors take advantage of technology to keep open lines of communication with our clients wherever we are. If you need us, you can always reach us. The same is true of many small firms’ attorneys.
In closing, if a big law firm scared you with your price quote, don’t let that be the end of your efforts if you have a legal matter you would otherwise want to pursue. Check out a smaller firm; you may be impressed with the quality of services available. Ask the small firm for a fee quote, and be sure to ask about various options for fee arrangements.