Domestic Cases - Initial Consults are $200.00 per hour, with a one-hour minimum. Most consults are scheduled for one hour, however, if more time is needed then you will be required to pay incrementally for the additional time spent. Payment is due at time of consult. Hourly rate after initial consult is $260.00 per hour.
Personal Injury Cases -- No consult fee.
The following is a SAMPLE of our retainer agreement and fee structure.
This agreement becomes effective upon our firm’s initial representation. However, this letter is to set out in writing the terms of representation. We have also attached herewith for your review a copy of our General Guidelines for Legal Fees. The attached General Guidelines is a part of this contract and for you to retain for future reference.
Our representation will include advising, counseling, negotiating, investigating, handling, or litigating this matter in the State of Louisiana. We have asked you to agree to deposit $(Will be established at the initial conference – cases that do not appear to need a court appearance or are likely to settle without a hearing will generally require a $3500.00 deposit; cases that will require a court appearance usually require a minimum $5500.00 retainer; uncontested divorces with no children and no community property issues and defendant willing to sign a waiver of service will allow for a lower retainer and will be set after conference, and contested custody cases AFTER the divorce, certain to require litigation, will require a $10,000 retainer. (Note: this does not include requests for standard visitation requests or minimal changes, which are much less time consuming and usually only require a $3500.00 retainer). Your retainer will be held in trust as a deposit against hourly fees. Your funds on deposit in your trust account will be applied to your monthly statement to pay your bill. All legal services are to be paid for in advance and if your retainer account is depleted, you will be required to pay in advance for any additional legal services required or replenish your retainer account. If your trust account does not have sufficient funds to pay for the services needed and you are unable to pay in advance for those necessary legal services, my representation will be immediately terminated and I will withdraw as counsel of record. We will of course notify you prior to termination of our services should this event occur. It is therefore beneficial to you to retain a reasonable minimum balance at all times in your retainer account and it is up to you to make sure there are adequate funds in your retainer account to pay for the needed services. Any unused fees will be refunded to you at the conclusion of the case, at the end of next billing cycle following the conclusion, therefore, the balance of your advance retainer will be returned to you after deducting your final bill for services rendered and paying any outstanding court costs.
We will compute periodic billing for fees based upon the amount of time that is devoted to your case by us. This is a minimum billing and computed as is hereinafter set forth so that we can compute and send to you periodic bills. Each specific time and service rendered by the firm will be recorded in 1/5 hour unit increments at the following rates:
Charlotte A. Pugh, Attorney, $260.00 per hour Angela D. Sibley (Not partner but occasionally co-counsel $260.00 per hour
Legal Assistant $85.00 per hour Other Law Clerks or Paralegals $85.00 per hour
We will bill you monthly on a time-expended basis, for the previous month. All such amounts shall be paid promptly unless paid by your retainer account and we will charge interest on the balance due that has been on our accounts receivable list more than thirty (30) days at an interest rate not to exceed twelve (12%) per annum compounded monthly, or the highest interest rate allowed by law. This amount will be added to your monthly billing. We reserve the right to terminate our attorney-client relationship for non-payment of fees or costs, as agreed.
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR LEGAL FEES
AND TERMS OF REPRESENTATION IN DOMESTIC MATTERS
These general guidelines are intended to explain the policies of this office concerning fees for legal services. No two cases are alike. An individual arrangement will be made for the fees to be charged in your case. However, these general policies apply to the fees for legal services in all cases, and will be a part of the agreement for legal fees in your case.
In order to provide you with competent legal representation , there is NO single or "flat-rate" charge for fees in this matter. No one can determine initially the amount of work that is going to be required in your case and "flat-rate" charges generally do not provide you with the best legal results for your money. It also many times results in your either "overpaying" or alternatively, when your case becomes difficult, your not receiving the legal help you need. We have determined that an hourly rate is the fairest method for clients.
The overall fee in your case will be determined in accordance with the factors set forth in determining a reasonable fee by the Code of Professional Responsibility of the rules governing the State Bar of Louisiana, and shall include the following:
1. The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly.
2. The likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer.
3. The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services.
4. The amount involved and the results obtained.
5. The time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances.
6. The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client.
7. The experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services.
It is impossible to determine in advance the amount of time that will be needed to complete your case. It has already been mentioned that no two cases are the same, and no two aggrieved parties react in the same manner. Some, but not all, of our services charged on a time basis include court appearances, travel, legal research, conferences, telephone calls including calls with opposing counsel, investigative work, review of material received from opposing party, and drafting pleadings and documents. For appearances out of the office, you will be charged from the time we leave the office until the time we return to the office. We have no control over the time spent waiting in court for your case to be called or waiting for other matters such as depositions, status conferences, etc. to take place. You will be charged for the entire time we are required to be away from the office for these appearances with a minimum charge of 1.0 hour for outside-office appearances. Many things occur that are beyond our control, such as the court granting the other side a continuance, your case being continued because the court cannot get to your case that day, your case being reset for other reasons, failure of the other side to appear at a deposition, failure of counsel to appear and things of that nature. You will be responsible for those costs.
You will be billed for each and every telephone call related to your case, whether initiated by us or by the other side or by you or a third-party calling about your case, at a minimum of 1/5th an hour (.20). A great deal of your work will be performed over the telephone and the use of the telephone usually translates into a savings to you. In spite of this cost, it is important that you stay in contact and keep us informed of all events at all times, and to seek legal advice before taking any action that might affect your case. Failure to do so could jeopardize your case and is usually well worth the cost involved.
You will be billed for each e-mail received and responded to (together as one charge) at 1/5th an hour (.20), regardless of who initiates the communication. E-mail is strongly encouraged as it becomes very difficult to coordinate a "connection" by telephone. We work very long hours and many times are available to respond to e-mail at times when we cannot be reached by telephone. Please be sure to give us an e-mail address if you would like to correspond in this manner.
Errors do occur in time entries and you should contact me immediately to correct any billing errors.
Letters, faxes, other documents and pleadings:
You will be billed for "transmittal letters" and short faxes and emails at the rate of .20 of an hour. You will be billed for all other letters, emails and faxes at a "minimum" of .25 hour. You will be billed for receipt and review of all letters, documents or pleadings that are received by this office at a "minimum" of .20 hour, depending on the complexity and time needed for thorough review. You will be billed for all pleadings, including motions, orders, consent or stipulated judgments, rules, etc., at a "minimum" of .50 hours. Most pleadings require a great deal of thought and preparation and will usually be billed at a "minimum" of 1.0 hour.
Qualified Domestic Relations Orders
to divide community retirement or profit-sharing benefits require additional specialized work and may be referred to experts in the field, depending upon the difficulty and my workload, and therefore my representation does not include preparation of those pleadings. I also do not give TAX ADVICE. I advise you to consult with a CPA to determine the tax consequences of any proposed action PRIOR to settlement or trial. I will NOT obtain a restraining order on your behalf to prevent alienation of community assets unless you ask for one. Only upon your specific request, however, will I ‘freeze’ a retirement or other financial account.
LEXIS: Computer research is required in many cases. In addition to the hourly rate for work performed, you will be charged an additional $35.00 per hour for legal research through Lexis, however, this will be billed in .20 hour increments of time. A Louisiana "people search" or "assets search" charge will be $25.00 per search. A national search costs $200.00 and will not be performed without your written consent.
I make every reasonable effort to settle contested issues without the financial burden of trial. Many times it is not possible to reach an agreement before trial. Many agreements are reached once you get to trial. If it becomes apparent that your case will have to go to trial, you agree to pay me a trial deposit within one (1) week after you are notified of the amount, unless there are adequate funds on retainer. If the trial deposit is not paid to my office within ten (10) days from the date of notification, you understand and agree that I will withdraw as counsel of record. Minimum trial deposit will usually be enough to cover an eight-hour day in court.
In addition to the individual fee arrangement made for legal services in your case, you will be responsible for expenses incurred on your behalf such as, but not limited to, filing fees, deposition costs, photocopying expenses, travel expenses, and employment and testimony of accountants, appraisers, and other expert witnesses, if necessary. The firm will not obligate you for any large expense without your prior approval. However, the firm also will not advance any of these costs unless sufficient funds are in your retainer account.
The hourly rate for time spent by the attorney on your matter will be established for your individual case at the outset. However, the firm reserves the right in all cases to increase the hourly rate of charges to conform to the fee customarily charged other clients for similar legal services.
The agreement to represent you in your case does NOT include presentation of any appeal of the case before any Appellate Court. In the event such an appeal is necessitated, that matter will be a separate and distinct action and a new and distinct fee arrangement will be made if you and our firm mutually agree to continue our attorney/client relationship for the purpose of appeal.
TERMINATION OF REPRESENTATION BY PUGH LAW FIRM, LLC. In all cases accepted by our firm, the attorney reserves the right to terminate employment and withdraw from the case for:
1. Non-payment of fees and costs or the inability to pay for necessary legal services to properly represent you; 2. Failure to cooperate and comply fully with all reasonable requests of the attorney in connection with the case; 3. Engaging in conduct which renders it unreasonably difficult for the firm to carry out the purposes of its employment; 4. Irreconcilable disagreement between Attorney and Client as to the direction and/or handling of issues in your case; 5. Any other reason that the Attorney deems further employment would not be in either the Attorney or Client's best interest.
In the event of withdrawal from employment, the firm will take reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable prejudice to your rights, including giving due notice to you, allowing you time for employment of other counsel, delivering to you all papers and property to which you are entitled, and complying with the applicable laws and rules.
Of course, you have the right to terminate the services of our firm at any time. In the event our services are terminated prior to completion of the case, the client is required to pay all fees for legal services rendered and all costs incurred to date of termination. YOU MUST PROVIDE NOTIFICATION OF TERMINATION IN WRITING.
The firm shall withdraw if discharged. A discharge shall be communicated in writing. If a suit is filed, permission for withdrawal is required by the rules of the Court. The firm shall withdraw upon permission of the Court. Until permission of the Court is granted by a signed order, you will agree to pay the fees and expenses of the firm in continuing your representation, including costs associated with the withdrawal.
MISCELLANOUS: All fees for legal services and costs shall be payable in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Any contractual obligation undertaken on the part of the firm or the client shall be performable in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The attorneys will maintain records of time spent on your case. All time will be recorded in .20 of an hour minimum. For example, telephone calls will be charged at 1/5 hour increments (.20). That is, if the call takes less than 12 minutes, the charge will be 1/5 hour (.20 hr); and if the call takes more than 12 minutes but less than 15 minutes, the charge will be .25 hour, and so forth.
The hourly rate shall include any and all time spent for consultations, telephone conferences, pre-trial and discovery, trial preparation, travel to and from locations away from our office and any and all other work associated with your file. To the extent that associate lawyers or legal assistants’ personnel time is utilized, your overall minimum periodic billing will be lower.
It is understood that the above described unit rates are the rates currently charged by this firm. The hourly unit rates may be escalated due to inflation or other economic conditions. You agree to pay the escalated hourly rates with the understanding that if do not wish to pay the escalated hourly rate, you may terminate representation and should notify the firm immediately. Any escalated rate charged will be immediately reduced to your original hourly rate and representation terminated. You will have thirty (30) days after the new rate goes into effect to terminate representation without the additional rate affecting your account.
Remember, the firm makes no representations, promises, or guarantees as to the outcome of your case other than to provide reasonable and necessary legal services in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility of the State Bar of Louisiana.
Lastly, it is of importance to both you and our firm that there be no misunderstandings concerning the fees you will be charged. You should feel comfortable about your understanding of the fees to be charged in your case; they should be discussed with the attorney during the first appointment and a firm agreement reached. Any questions concerning our fees should be brought to the immediate attention of your attorney.
Finally, all billing, although computerized, is input manually. Errors can and do occur, in spite of our best efforts to avoid them. Please review your bill very closely and immediately contact the office if you find an error.
Once again, thank you for the trust you have shown in retaining our firm to represent you.