Why are attorneys’ fees so high?
Attorneys have to earn enough to cover office expenses, salaries, and taxes just like every other business. An attorney is a specialist who has gone to law school and passed the Illinois bar exam. Our office has years of experience and we know our way around the Courts, especially at the Daley Center. See our Civil Litigation page for more details.
Our office has a positive reputation with some of the judges. We charge more than a young attorney going into practice on their own because we know a lot more. We charge less than law firms who are trying to make as much money as they ethically can off of every client.
Why can’t you represent me for a flat fee like I see in ads?
We would love to charge a flat fee for representing our clients in court. Most flat fees you see in ads are based on best-case scenarios. Very rarely do these best-case scenarios happen in real life when the case is going to court.
- The judge may want to base their decision on evidence which is not available in court that day.
- The other side may not be doing what the judge told them to do and that wastes a court date.
- Lawyers and judges can get sick or take vacations.
- The judge has other cases that have to come first.
- The lawyers may be covering more than one case and are in a different court room when the judge is ready so he tells them to come back another day.
- There are steps that judges take to avoid a trial, such as conferences with the attorneys or sending the case to mediation which means they have to come back another day.
- The other side is not prepared so the judge tells them to come back another day.
- Both sides have to present their case to the judge so the judge tells them to come back on a day when he has enough time to hold a trial.
All of this means that it’s very hard to estimate how much time the attorney will spend in court. Every hour that they’re spending in court waiting for the judge to get to their case is time they can’t be spending on something else.
How will you determine how much I need to pay?
You have to pay fees (money the court charges to allow you to file your case) and for the attorney’s time. They keep track of how much time they spend on your case–research and preparation, court time, phone conversations or emails with you and/or the other side. These bills are sent to you every month showing you how much of the charges have been covered by the retainer and how much more you need to pay.
What is a retainer?
A retainer is like a deposit on the case that we have to have before we start work on the case. The amount is based on the amount of fees and time that we think the case will take. If it takes more time than we estimated, you will receive a bill telling you how much additional you need to pay that month.
Do I have to come up with the retainer all at once?
We have what we call our 90 Day Retainer Program.
If your retainer is large and your case needs immediate attention, you can pay your retainer in three installments. Say your retainer is $3500. You pay $1500 immediately, $1000 after 45 days, and $1000 after another 45 days.
Do I get any of my retainer back if it costs less than estimated?
Yes. Our office has to keep the retainer money in a special account (required by law) and we can only transfer money out of the account after you have received a bill that describes the work we have done on the case. If you believe a charge on the bill to be incorrect, contact us right away to have it corrected. If you do not contact us within a few days of when we send the bill out, we can assume you agreed with the numbers and we can transfer the money from the retainer account to our checking account.
If there is still some of your money in the retainer fund after the case is concluded, you will get a check for it.
What if I can’t pay my bill after the retainer is gone?
Call us to discuss it. We prefer a partial payment to no payment at all. If the amount you owe gets too large, work on your case will be stopped until you can reduce the balance owed.
What if I still owe money when my case is finished?
You are legally responsible for the balance. You signed legal contract with our office when you gave us the retainer and signed the agreement. We will go to court to collect our fees if necessary, which may mean garnishing your pay check. We’d rather not do that but this is a business, not legal aid.
Do I have to pay the balance all at once?
Talk to us about your situation. We might be able to set up a payment plan. Sometimes, if clients have a credit card, they will authorize us to submit a payment every month until the bill is paid. This is not fair to our office–we have completed our side of the bargain and you have not–but we understand that keeping a roof over your head and having food to eat is important.
Will anyone but Mr. Nordgren work on my case?
That is spelled out in the contract you signed when you gave us the retainer. We have another attorney, a paralegal and a clerk in the office right now (see Staff for more information) and they are billed at a lower rate than Mr. Nordgren. Mr. Nordgren oversees all work his staff does, but he delegates as much as he can so that you have to pay less. You will be able to see on the monthly bill who put time in working on your case.
Click here or on bill to see it more clearly
You’ll charge me for writing emails and telephone calls?
We charge for emails and telephone calls because it’s time we’re spending on your case and not on someone else’s case. We charge by tenths of an hour so our smallest charge is 6 minutes. We keep track of how we spend all of our time but only bill you for what we spent on your case.
Before you call our office, figure out what questions you have so that the phone call does not involve long periods where you’re trying to remember what your last question is. Take notes if you can, so you don’t keep calling with the same question. Try to make your emails clear and to the point too. This makes us happy, because we can answer your questions but keep the amount of time (and cost) down.