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post #76 of 79
Can you explain criminal law billing? What little I know seems to be they take a large, single, lump sum payment, and then bill everything (legal work, ministerial work, paralegal and secretary work, etc) against that. Is that how high level white collar crime is billed as well? Or do the clients (Enron guys, Bernie Madoff, OJ Simpson, etc) make monthly payments into the retainer trust as it's depleted?
post #77 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyquik View Post
Can you explain criminal law billing? What little I know seems to be they take a large, single, lump sum payment, and then bill everything (legal work, ministerial work, paralegal and secretary work, etc) against that. Is that how high level white collar crime is billed as well? Or do the clients (Enron guys, Bernie Madoff, OJ Simpson, etc) make monthly payments into the retainer trust as it's depleted?
That is my understanding. Criminal cases are dicey for lawyers -- as they progress there is less incentive for the clients (defendants) to keep paying. For some strange reason, I think white collar perps actually think they can pay a good defense lawyer to prevent an indictment from coming done. Occasionally this happens, but it is the exception, not the norm. Technically, once a notice is filed, the court can hold a defense lawyer's feet to the fire and require him to continue to represent the defendant whether he is being compensated or not. I suppose that's why most require a huge retainer upfront. I think most defense lawyers require another big deposit once a case is set for trial.
post #78 of 79
CQ, it can be either. When I was with a firm that did a lot of white collar work, the second arrangement you describe was more common (that is, monthly replenishment of a retainer against which hourly fees were billed, just like in civil cases). There can be a number of reasons why the first may be used, however. If there's a chance that assets in the client's name may be seized or frozen, it's obviously in the firm's interest (and often the client's) to secure as much payment as possible up front. Also, as Lester points out, once an actual case has been filed and the attorney/firm is official counsel of record, judges are sometimes reluctant to let the lawyer out of the case. Again, that's a reason to try to get sufficient payment secured in advance. Also, in cases where the defendant is a corporate employee, officer, or director, there may be certain issues implicated in terms of payment of legal fees by the employer or an insurance company. There can be a great variety of scenarios, but suffice it to say that if there is a concern that the payor may stop paying at some point, there's an incentive to get as much money committed early as possible. Also, in some situations the firm may request a large up-front, non-refundable ("earned upon receipt") retainer, which may have advantages in the the event of a forfeiture of assets or bankruptcy. I agree with Lester that avoiding an indictment that otherwise would be filed is the exception without the rule, but I do believe good representation can often make the difference between being indicted or not in cases that are on the border. At the very least, it can make the difference between an unpleasant outcome and a catastrophic one.
post #79 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by LesterSnodgrass View Post
That is my understanding. Criminal cases are dicey for lawyers -- as they progress there is less incentive for the clients (defendants) to keep paying. For some strange reason, I think white collar perps actually think they can pay a good defense lawyer to prevent an indictment from coming done. Occasionally this happens, but it is the exception, not the norm. Technically, once a notice is filed, the court can hold a defense lawyer's feet to the fire and require him to continue to represent the defendant whether he is being compensated or not. I suppose that's why most require a huge retainer upfront. I think most defense lawyers require another big deposit once a case is set for trial.

My dad is a criminal defense attorney. The billing is terrible. You mostly charge lump sums, with a massive retainer upfront. However, like you said, the guy who shot and killed 3 people in cold blood is going to jail, and they could care less about paying their lawyer. Of course, they dont realize that its that same lawyer who got the sentace reduced, charges lowered, etc.... When my dad started out in the 60's, it was him and a bunch of law school buddies, all did criminal work, wide eyed save the world types. Now he's the only one left really, and while he will tell you he is a CDA he mostly does bankruptcies, and DUI's, since he always gets paid.
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