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Attorney James Hope

James HopeWhat is a “Flat Fee”, and why is it good?

While the first question you may have for an attorney regarding his or her fee might be, “What is your hourly rate?”, it is actually much more common for criminal defense work to be conducted for a “Flat Fee”.  I use the Flat Fee structure almost exclusively.  A “Flat Fee” may simply be thought of as the “price” that you and your attorney agree upon in advance for the legal task at hand-- period, the end.   (However, note the section on “Costs”, below.)  Some benefits of a Flat Fee arrangement are, first, you and I both have some certainty (i.e., peace of mind) going into the process as to what we can each expect, financially, and second, a client does not have to fear prolonged litigation turning the bill into a run-away-train with no brakes.

How is the Fee determined?  (My short explanation):

As a practical matter, I use my 21+ years of criminal law experience as both a former Lake County Assistant State
Attorney (Prosecutor) and current defense attorney to arrive at what I feel is a reasonable Flat Fee for my services, based upon the insights I glean during your free consultation.  In fact, I am very proud of my ability to price a case ‘correctly’-- where the goal is to be fair to both you and me.

How is the Fee determined?  (The Florida Bar’s long explanation):

(A) the time and labor required, the novelty, complexity, and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;

(B) the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;

(C) the fee, or rate of fee, customarily charged in the locality for legal services of a comparable or similar nature;

(D) the significance of, or amount involved in, the subject matter of the representation, the responsibility involved in the representation, and the results obtained;

(E) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances and, as between attorney and client, any additional or special time demands or requests of the attorney by the client;     

(F) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;

(G) the experience, reputation, diligence, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the service and the skill, expertise, or efficiency of effort reflected in the actual providing of such services; and

(H) whether the fee is fixed or contingent, and, if fixed as to amount or rate, then whether the client's ability to pay rested to any significant degree on the outcome of the representation.

What “Costs” are not included in a “Flat Fee”?

Remembering that a Flat Fee is the fee paid to your attorney, there may be other third-party expenses incurred in your behalf.  Quite frequently I handle cases which from start-to-finish have incurred no additional costs at all, but criminal defense cases can typically involve costs such as:

  • Subpoenas
  • Court Reporter’s per diem / Transcripts
  • Expert Witnesses (Psychologist, Physician, etc.)
  • Private Investigative work

What about a “Trial” or an “Appeal”?

Only a small percentage of criminal cases involve Appeals, and thus my usual fee-contract excludes Appellate work.  On the other hand, our contract may or may not include a Trial, depending on how likely you and I feel an actual Trial will be, following our discussion during the free, no-obligation, office consultation that I offer.

Will my case cost $500.00, or $50,000.00?

I have handled criminal cases for both-- obviously depending (in part) on the seriousness of the matter.  One thing I can say:  If I schedule you for a free, no-obligation, office consultation, I set it as my goal to give you a price-quote by the time you leave my office.    

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Law Office of James Hope
P.O. Box 1133
322 N. Barrow Avenue
Tavares, FL 32778
352-742-3488 ~ Email


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