Did a Big Law Firm’s Fee Quote Stop You From Pursuing Your Rights? Seek a Smaller Firm and Creative Fee Options

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).

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Should You Get a Local Attorney?

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If you’re looking for an attorney to help with a legal dispute, you may have thought of this question: “Should I get an attorney located near me?”

My answer, which is a typical lawyer answer, is “maybe.”  It depends.  Lawyers in the U.S. are generally licensed to handle Federal-law matters all across the U.S.  I personally handle Federal- law matters in numerous States, and represent clients located in States other than my mine (Wisconsin) and in other countries as well.  Those clients retained me because I have experience with Federal- law issues at hand.  For them, expertise trumped location.  Why? Because the quality of legal work is the most important issue.  And most legal work is remote: the vast majority of legal work is done via a computer, phone, and mailed or electronically- transmitted documents.  Even clients who live very close to me will only very occasionally meet in person with me, and that is almost always because we decide to meet in person, not because we have to.

With that said, there are some types of matters where an attorney’s location and licensure is very important to a matter.  For example, if a given issue concerns a particular State’s law or legal proceedings, then it will be necessary to have an attorney who is licensed in that State’s laws.  Some of my Federal cases also involve secondary State- law issues, in which event I work along with co-counsel attorneys located or licensed in the pertinent States.  Not all cases warrant this type of work-sharing, however, and an attorney should be able to explain whether it’s necessary or advisable.

Any attorney who you contact should be able to tell you whether your matter involves a State- law issue, or issue that the attorney is unable to assist you with (due to lack of licensure, etc.).  The key is to contact the attorney and ask.  If you feel a particular attorney can help you with your specific issues, don’t assume location is a barrier.

In my view, there are two better questions than “Should I get a local attorney?”  Those are: (1) Can a particular lawyer you’ve learned about help you with your concerns? (2) If that lawyer is not located near you, has that lawyer explained whether his or her location would present a barrier for you?

Threatening You Will Hire An Attorney? There are Better Ways to Resolve Your Dispute

Are you in the middle of a dispute with a large organization, such as an agency of the U.S. government, or a prime contractor?  Is that party not being reasonable in the dispute, and causing you frustration?  If so, you may feel tempted to threaten you will get an attorney if your dispute is not resolved how you want.

Please know that making this threat– that you may get an attorney, rather than actually having one already representing you– is usually a bad idea.  Rarely does a large entity react to the threat the way you would want them to (i.e. rarely do they back down, give you what you want, etc.).   The large entity may react to an attorney threat in ways that make the situation worse for you.

Here are common negative reactions a large organization could make in response to an attorney threat:

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Worried About Paying for An Attorney? Learn and Ask About Different Fee Types and “Hybrid” Options

If your company is a contractor or subcontractor for a U.S.-government project and you want legal assistance, you may be worried about the cost of attorney fees. That is understandable, as attorneys fees can indeed be expensive in the United States.  You may have heard of attorney hourly rates that exceed $500 or even $1,000 U.S. dollars per hour.  Sometimes, high fees are worthwhile and bring high value.  But, if you can’t afford a given fee, you can’t afford it. So, what do you do?

You should know there are different types of attorneys fees and options in the United States, some of which are  more affordable than you may think.  Below we discuss some of those attorney-fee types and options that could reduce your expense, including hourly rate, flat rate, contingency and hybrid fee arrangements.

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Questions for Your New Attorney, Starting With #1: How Will I Get a Return on My Investment of Legal Fees?

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Has your business avoided contacting an attorney because you’re concerned it could be a “waste” of money?

That’s an understandable concern. Sometimes, attorneys fees are not in fact a good investment.  Perhaps you’ve had a prior experience where you paid an attorney by the hour, and he spun his or her wheels without getting you anywhere.  That is, you did not get a favorable result: your main result was paying out legal fee money.

It’s true that in such instances, your money is poorly invested.  After all, you don’t pay an attorney just to do legal work.  You don’t pay an attorney for fancy briefs or documents.  You pay an attorney to improve your situation: to get a better financial result than you started with.

There are attorneys out there who understand this, and who strive to provide value to clients.

So how do you find an attorney who provides value?  It starts with the questions you ask.

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