Flat fees rout the hourly attorney fee in grudge match

Who would have suspected?  People prefer certainty and stability in their attorney fee payment.  I am not surprised by the answer but I appreciate all the responses to my Linkedin question:

When using an attorney, would you prefer to pay a flat rate for the project or an hourly rate? (and *why*)

The responses were consistent but interesting to see how people explained their thinking.  12 out of 13 responses voted in favor of the flat rate fee.  The responses are below or can you can view them on Linkedin (account required).

Flat rate….no doubt!

fixed fee project rate that is set upfront

If fair to both parties for services rendered it is certainly a lot easier to get ones head around a set figure than imagining the cash register to just keep rolling and rolling and not really know time spent for a period until you get a bill.
If you could be fair to client and to yourself I would think Flat Fee options could be very beneficial.

Flat rate- because I have been killed the other way.
Flat rate – I know the amount that I’m paying. Especially when it is for what I would call “regular and customary” kinds of projects. Now, if I know there is a lot of research or my issue is complex, then hourly might be the way.Actually, for an attorney, doing flat rate for “regular” work, you can build in a phone call or email or two. There is nothing more infuriating than to know that a short email or phone call contact is X amount of dollars. One can specify that in the flat rate as well.
I prefer a flat rate. That way the client knows what the budget is. For example, i charge a percentage, but yet the client knows upfront through disclosure what my fee will be.I think when you are being paid on service and the only product you actually market is your abilities, flat rate is the best. That way there is no incentive to prolong a clients problem because of the hourly wage. Extenuating circumstances should be renegotiated.An example would be when my lawn gets mowed. if the vendor does not know how long it will take to mow, I need a new vendor. your incentive is to come in quickly, under budget with a valuable service.

I’m personally a big fan of pricing by projects. It sets clear expectations for the client and the attorney and most people can grasp that well (and it also helps everyone in the longrun). I also think there’s situations when priving by the hour works well or even doing a little bit of both.
Just the opinion of a startup guy. Take it for what you while. Hope you’re well. Talk soon and take care.

I would prefer to pay a flat rate when possible for services that lend themselves to that model. It helps to know how much something is going to be before buying it because it removes an unknown, which makes a purchase easier.

Prefer the flat rate. Can make a informed decision if I want to pursue the matter.

Flat rate. It gives clients peace of mind to know what they’ll be paying. 99% of my clients choose flat rate on projects I do for them.

Flat Rate – because then you know how to budget if necessary. And right or wrong there’s a perception that lawyers will drag stuff out.

Shawn, I prefer a flat rate in most cases. I know there are some times when an hourly fee will be more economical, but in general I like the flat fee approach that is priced on “value” versus the amount of hours spent.

I prefer the set rate for services. In my business I have graphic designers. I know that sometimes a task can be accomplished in 30 minutes, but they may spend 2 hours after distractions, playing with different designs, etc. I want to know that the time I am paying for is dedicated to me only. I want to know the up front cost so there aren’t any surprises in the end.

The “contract” or whatever quote form is used could have a clause for adjustments once the task has begun – for more difficulty or less.


Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."

1 comment

kosze nastawne

I do not drop a great deal of responses, but after browsing a lot of responses on Shawn J. Roberts – Partnering with you to build and protect your business. I do have 2 questions for you if you tend not to mind. Could it be only me or does it look as if like a few of the responses come across as if they are coming from brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are posting on other places, I’d like to follow you. Could you list of all of your social community pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?