Fee Structures

 Attorney Thomas Rutledge offers the following payment methods:

  • Contingent fees are offered for 33%-45% of all clients
  • Hourly rates are $150-$250/hour, depending on the case
  • Retainers are sometimes required
  • Free 30-minute consultations are available

The fee structures will vary case-by-case and are contingent upon:

  • The complexity of the case
  • The urgency of the case
  • The amount of time required
  • The amount of staff time required
  • Whether the attorney will be advancing costs
  • The likelihood that the case will succeed
  • The likelihood of appeal


Contingent Fees

A contingent fee is payable only if there is a favorable result. It is defined as a “fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or is favorably settled out of court.” Contingent fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the client’s net recovery. It is generally referred to as ”no win no fee.”

The idea is that the client will pay for the expenses involved with bringing the case to court, such as filing fees, but the costs of pursuing the case and the risks/rewards are shared by the client and the attorney. The client does not pay a contingent fee until she/he wins money damages from the defendant. Contingent fees, which are gamble for the attorney, cannot be used in divorce cases, child custody cases and criminal cases.

Hourly Rates

An hourly rate is a predetermined amount chargeable for the attorney’s work. The attorney and client may agree that these fees be paid periodically or in one lump sum at the end of the case. The time that an attorney charges for legal work is called billable time, or billable hours.

Flat Fees

A flat fee is a dollar amount that the attorney and the client agree on before the attorney begins work. The flat fee is often favored because it is a simple transaction and the fee is paid up front. The attorney identifies an amount of work that the case will require and calculates a reasonable fee based on the time and effort involved.


It is common for a person seeking the services of an attorney to pay a retainer fee to the lawyer, who will see a case through to its conclusion.  A retainer can be a single advance payment or a recurring (e.g. monthly) payment. Retainer fee can be paid on a fixed, pre-negotiated rate or on a variable hourly rate depending on the nature of retainer.

The purpose of a retainer fee is to ensure payment for future services or work to be rendered. The idea behind such a retainer is that a legal relationship is created between the attorney and the client. The term retainer also refers to an initial fee paid by the client (as in the services of an attorney have been “retained.”)

Mixture of Fee Types

In many cases, an attorney will mix a contingent fee with a flat fee or an hourly rate. Or they may base the contingent fee on a sliding scale. With the sliding scale contingent fee, the attorney will receive a high percentage of the client’s recovery if the recovery is large and a lower percentage if the recovery is small.

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