Retainer fees and cost estimates cause anxiety for many family law clients. Most of the time, this is the fault of lawyers. We do things differently. At Walters Gilbreath, PLLC our cost structure, billing practices and hourly rates are all accessible to you and discussed at length before the firm accepts a single dollar.
We offer fair fees. We don’t ding you with petty charges. We’re obsessed with efficiency. We staff every case with an associate so a partner is not doing associate-level work (or vice versa). We do not inflate our billing with padded bills or minimum 15 or 30-minute increments. We have fair, transparent billing that we send out each month so that you know where you stand. We have a very healthy client roster, so we have no incentive to over-bill clients.
How Does Billing and the Retainer Fee Work
There are two different payments clients will make to the firm.
The first type of payment clients will make to the firm is the initial retainer. You can learn more about our retainer options here. Once our firm receives a retainer fee, we immediately distribute those funds to a trust account. This money belongs to you until the firm both performs work on your case, and invoices you for that work. At this point, a portion of your trust account is earned by the firm, and your account will be debited for that amount.
Retainer fees are only paid once at the beginning of a case to initiate representation. The majority of payments will be made through trust replenishments, which are required at the end of each billing cycle: the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month. With each bill, the firm requires clients to maintain minimum trust balance. This minimum balance will always equal the firm’s estimate of funds required to pay for the following two months of litigation. When bills are paid on time, this balance ensures the firm is able to provide elite representation even facing major unexpected developments. The exact amount of above payments vary based on a variety of factors.
As for billing, we send bills twice a month. Always. Our clients deserve to know the work being done on his and her case. We do good work for our clients, and we want them to stay informed throughout the process. Each client will receive a bill twice a month with all activity and expenses on the case itemized.
Return of Retainer Funds
No matter what type of retainer you choose, or what happens in your case, you get all unused trust funds back at the end of your case.
Brian D. Walters - 22 years as a lawyer; first Board Certified in Family Law in 2003; bills at $650/hr
James “Jake” Gilbreath - 10 years as a lawyer; Board Certified in Family Law in 2014; bills at $650/hr
Senior Associates - minimum of 5 years as a lawyer; bill typically between $400-$475/hr
Associate Attorneys - bill typically between $300-$400/hr
What Does it All Come Back to?
What is the main identifying of a good relationship? Communication. We want to talk about costs. We want you to know what you are paying for, and we want to be proud of the work we’ve done. It’s just that simple. The financial strain of divorce, including payment of the retainer, can be extremely stressful. At the end of the day, the price tag of divorce should never be the thing that keeps you in a relationship you know is over.