Yes, on some occasions they do negotiate their hourly and their retainer for good clients, but not all attorneys and not all the time. Many attorney's provide professional courtesy discounts on their billings for brief emials and telephone calls. For instance we don't charge for travel time to court, things like that add value to your case. Keep in mind, you get what you pay for in most cases and with lawyers the better you treat your attorney the better service you will get and more than likely you will receive a discount without even asking for it.
Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.
All attorneys set their fees individually and based on a wide variety of factors. Most attorneys have a "usual" hourly rate, but nothing requires an attorney to charge that rate in every case. Most experienced attorneys will charge a higher rate for clients they assess as unreasonable, demanding or high maintenance. The retainer should be no more that a reasonable estimate of the likely cost of the legal services expected to meet your objectives. When you discuss a retainer with an attorney you should take care to ask whether it is a refundable retainer, meaning the trust account balance will be release to the client if the objectives are met before the entire retainer is earned. A client does not negotiate with a paralegal directly for services because the paralegal is required to work under the supervision of an attorney. Clients are well advised to avoid the "low bidder" on hourly rate because that attorney may lack experience or local reputation. Willingness to negotiate rate may indicate the attorney is short on clients, which may reflect on that attorney's abilities. A more experienced attorney with a higher hourly rate may in fact cost less as experience brings economies of effort and effectiveness.
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This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
Yes. Rates are negotiable. However, many attorneys at the top of their game don't negotiate much off their published rates, except in unusual circumstances.
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Attorneys are businesses, and the price differently. When business is slow, sometimes there are price reductions. As to family law, we "package" eight hours (what we think most divorces take), discount that, keep a time sheet, and bill for hours above 8 at standard rates. Some cases take more, especially custody or serious real estate battles.
We do not charge for travel, but often meet clients in the courthouse, since I am there so often. At times, we meet clients at workplace or otherwise when their schedules depend on it. As a client-centered firm, we do not charge for the assistance of our Legal Nurse Consultant. We do not do business by email (as a software engineer, I distrust email!); short calls are not billed. So, every business is different. Clients who work hard to gather papers, take advice as to not escalating, and work side-by-side with us help us keep fees down
We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.