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There are three basic ways of paying your attorneys.

1.  Fixed fees.  For example, in a real estate closing, we will agree on the fee for my services, whether you are the buyer or the seller.


2.  Contingency fee.  This is most frequently used when an attorney is seeking to recover money or property on behalf of his client.  It can be used in the defense of the case.  This is sometimes referred to as a "reverse contingent fee".  For example, suppose your company is sued by a disgruntled employee who was fired.  Employee now claims that the firing was due to some kind of discrimination.  We can agree that the exposure, or the disgruntled employee's maximum realistic recovery, is $500,000.  If the case goes to trial and the employee recovers nothing, then the client will pay a percentage of the $500,000 exposure as the fee for handling the case.  If the case is tried or settled for $100,000, then the value of my work is the $400,000 you have saved.  You would then pay a percentage of the $400,000.


3.  By the hour.  The attorney keeps track of his time and creates a detailed invoice itemizing the attorney's activity each day and the number of hours spent on each activity.  This is the most common arrangement when an attorney is defending a lawsuit.


We will always have a written agreement about fees and costs.  The agreement will be the product of discussion and negotiation between us.  I have to know what you want.  You have to know what it will cost. 


The legal profession has divided itself in two:  Litigation and transactions.  Litigators try cases.  Transaction attorneys draft documents.  The division or specialization certainly exists but does not serve the client well.  Often, litigation represents a failed transaction.  When planning a transaction and drafting the required documents, you have to know what can go wrong.  Please look at the description of my areas of practice.  I have represented both sides in lawsuits and transactions. 


I have three advantages over most attorneys.  My first full time job was not as an attorney.  I taught eighth graders Introductory Physical Science at Drew Middle School in Stafford County.  Second, I have had to serve as a witness in two civil cases (including an auto accident) and one criminal case.  Third, as an Assistant Attorney General, I hired, paid, and supervised private-sector attorneys retained by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I have been a client.



I started my own firm for the same reason that many of you went into business for yourselves and the same reason that many of you have climbed up the ladder to positions of considerable responsibility.  I like the idea of running my own ship.  I wanted to return to a more traditional practice of law.  In that "model", the attorney manages transactions and represents clients in court.  I have also wanted, for some time, to find other ways of charging for my services than the standard fee hourly basis.

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