“Ten Grand to Start”

I talked to a lady this weekend who had been looking for a criminal-defense lawyer for her dad (I had a conflict; she wasn’t seeking to hire me). She said that one of the lawyers had asked for “ten thousand dollars to start.”

Ten thousand dollars is would be on the low end of the range of reasonable fees for the case, but “to start” is dangerous language when you’re hiring a criminal-defense lawyer.

0 responses to ““Ten Grand to Start””

  1. Yes, a better way to put it is $10,000 minimum. Ten thousand to start means frequent yelling at the client in the hallway for more money, if you want to practice law that way

  2. Not that I have ever quoted that sort of fee, but that just sounds to me like the lawyer is saying “the contract is ___________, and I would like to be paid in full up front, but if you cannot pay _________ up front then I would need at least $10K.”

    Although I do not love payment plans, a well respected Harris County criminal defense lawyers once told me, “Getting it all up front isn’t always going to be realistic.”

    Then again, I literally probably have AT LEAST $40K in unpaid fees that I am due under various contracts, so I probably ain’t the best to talk about successful businessing.


  3. ten thousand or one hundred thousand, it doesn’t matter when you want the BEST, and you, Mark, are the BEST!

  4. I agree – using “to start” language is dangerous at BEST. I always require my prospective clients to come in and meet me first – discuss their case – and then quote a flat fee covering the whole shabang.

  5. That’ll teach me not to elide so much here. “To start” is dangerous to the client because it leaves him with unlimited exposure for legal fees. If the lawyer is avaricious, he’ll figure out how much the client can afford, bleed him dry, and then withdraw for nonpayment of the last part of the fee.

    Much better for the client to have a flat fee, or at least a written contract setting out how the fee will be determined.

  6. Could she have misunderstood. Maybe $10K non-trial and an additional specified amount if set for trial? The “to start” language can only lead to problems as the case proceeds.

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