Contract Lawyers: Top Legal Fee Issues

Legal fees usually constitute a top concern for potential clients who wish to retain a St. Paul contract attorney.  In this essay, I would like to point out the top three legal fee issues that are usually associated with retaining a contract lawyer in St. Paul, Minnesota.

1. Payment Structure

There are three main models of payment that St. Paul contract lawyers use: hourly fee, contingency fee, and flat fee. The most common payment structure is hourly fee. This arrangement occurs where a contract attorney is paid based on how much time he spends on a case. If you’re paying your St. Paul contract lawyer by the hour, the agreement should set out the hourly rates of the business attorney and anyone else in this attorney’s office who might work on the case.

The contingency fee is relatively rare in a contract litigation setting, and virtually non-existent in the contract drafting and negotiations. This payment structure is characterized by payment to a contract lawyer of a mutually-agreed percentage of recovery (or contract amount) at the end of a case.

In a flat-fee arrangement, you pay an agreed-upon amount of money for a project Flat-fee payment is often used by St. Paul contract lawyers only in certain contract drafting situations. Usually, these situations are characterized by predominance of one party over another (for example, in employment context) or there has been an established consensus among parties (for example, in partnership agreement context). Flat fee, however, is less used where contract negotiation is required, and this payment structure is almost non-existent in contract litigation context (unless, a very large retainer is involved). Generally, flat fees are disliked by St. Paul contract attorneys due to its inflexibility. On the other hands, I have seen how a combination of a flat fee payment structure with hourly fees appeals to many clients while it reduces the inflexibility inherent in a simple flat-fee context.

Finally, as I just hinted above, it is possible to merge various payment structures to create a fee arrangement most agreeable to the parties.

2. Timing of Payment

Where hourly-fee arrangement is used, St. Paul contract lawyers usually bill their clients on a monthly basis. In a flat-fee arrangement, a contract attorney would prefer to receive at least half of the payment before he begins to work on a project. In any case, a retainer is usually required by St. Paul contract attorneys.

3. Retainer Fee

Most contract lawyers in St. Paul require their client to pay a retainer. Retainer can mean two different fee arrangements. First, retainer may be the amount of money a client pays to guarantee a contract lawyer’s commitment to the case. Under this arrangement, the retainer is not a form of an advance payment for future work, but a non-refundable deposit to secure the lawyer’s availability. Second, a retainer is simply the amount of money a St. Paul contract attorney asks his client to pay in advance. In this scenario, the lawyer usually deposits the retainer in a client trust account and withdraws money from it for the work completed according to the fee agreement. The fee agreement should specify the amount of the retainer and when the lawyer can withdraw money form the client trust account (usually, on a monthly basis).


Obviously, the three issues discussed above do not cover all of the issues associated with legal fees when you are hiring St. Paul contract lawyers. These three issues, however, are likely to provide the necessary background for you to understand the basics of the legal fee arrangements with your St. Paul contract attorney.

One of the key areas of our practice at Sherayzen Law Office is contract law. We are highly experienced in the matters of contract drafting, negotiation, and litigation. We also regularly offer our contract review and consultation services to our clients throughout Minnesota.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office NOW to discuss your contract with an experienced contract lawyer!