Many prospective clients hiring an attorney for the first time do not understand how legal fees are paid, retained, earned, returned, and refunded. Often, this confusion leads to unnecessary animosity between attorney and client. This animosity can be avoided if the distinctions are clearly explained at the onset, and the process remains transparent throughout the course of the representation.
Shinskie Law Group, PLLC is committed to a high level of client service. This includes clearly communicating the costs associated with the representation and the process we use to facilitate payment of fees. Below, please find our explanation for the process and the distinction between the return of unearned legal fees and refunds.
Hiring Shinskie Law Group, PLLC: Retainer Fee
Most clients hire Shinskie Law Group, PLLC through a Retainer Fee Agreement. This means that monies are paid to Shinskie Law Group, PLLC in advance of service. The amount paid in advance is dependent upon the service that is going to be rendered and the circumstances the client is facing.
The fees paid in advance are not earned in advance. Rather, they are retained by Shinskie Law Group, PLLC in a client trust account. While in the client trust account, they remain the client’s money, to be withdrawn upon request.
In a retainer fee agreement, Shinskie Law Group, PLLC earns fees after working on a client’s matter. These fees accrue at different rates depending on who is performing the service—an attorney or a paralegal—or for costs that accrue in servicing the client (e.g. filing fees, research fees, mileage, etc.). Every month, Shinskie Law Group, PLLC will send an invoice of its fees and costs for the client to review and correct, if necessary. If there are no changes, Shinskie Law Group, PLLC will then debit monies from the client’s trust account to pay the monthly charges.
Final Invoices and Reimbursed of Retainer Fees
If, after a client’s matter is completed there are outstanding fees and costs, and no monies in the client’s trust account, the client may receive a final invoice from Shinskie Law Group, PLLC requesting these final fees and costs. Alternatively, if after the client’s matter is completed and all outstanding fees and costs are paid, there are monies still remaining in the client’s trust account, those monies are considered unearned fees, which will be promptly returned to the client.
Refunds vs. Reimbursements
Refunds are different than the process of paying, retaining, earning, and returning legal fees. Rather, refunds are typically the result of an after-the-fact fee dispute or accounting error. The decision to provide a refund of legal fees earned by Shinskie Law Group, PLLC will remain completely within the discretion of the law firm.