When hiring an attorney it is very important to have a written fee agreement. This agreement must set out the services the attorney will perform for you and the type and amount of fees and costs you are obligated to pay for the services rendered.
When discussing fee agreements with an attorney, keep in mind that many factors are considered in selecting the type and amount of the fees. These factors include the experience and background of the attorney and the required time and attention needed on your case. Therefore, fees vary from attorney to attorney.
Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(b) states a strong preference by the State Bar of Michigan that Fee Agreements be in writing although this rule is not mandatory for criminal defense cases (non-contingent fee arrangements). Clients who fire their previous attorney regularly hire me. By far, the most common problems in those situations is that there are not written fee agreements and the lawyer and the client can’t agree on how the fees were structured, what was paid or how much should be reimbursed. Almost all criminal defense attorneys in Michigan charge flat, nonrefundable legal fees but without a written Fee Agreement, these fee structures are more complex than you may think and invariably result in fee disputes.
If you are going to hire a criminal defense attorney and he or she does not offer you a written fee agreement, leave immediately. This is a sure sign that the lawyer may intend to take advantage of you or it is his or her desire to keep you in the dark regarding the true costs of the legal services. Some attorneys will try to get a client to agree to hire the lawyer without a written fee agreement and will only provide one if asked. This is a major red flag that you must be conscious of. The only way to be assured that you and the lawyer have a clear meeting of the minds on legal fees and costs is if the agreement is in writing. Make certain that you keep a copy of the fee agreement for your records.
Once your questions are answered, be certain you understand everything in the agreement before you sign it – READ THE AGREEMENT!
If you would like more information on how attorney fees are determined, please click here
Mr. Loren M. Dickstein
Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer
LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.
2000 Town Center, Ste. 2350
Southfield, MI 48075