We value transparency.
Our philosophy is that clients have a right to transparency in the legal process, one in which expectations are clearly maintained from beginning to end. When hiring a lawyer, clients want to know what they are going to be charged. This is why, unlike other law firms, our retainer fees, billing practices and hourly rates are all accessible to you and discussed at-length before the firm accepts a single dollar.
Our Bespoke Retainer Structure
What Is A Retainer Fee and Why Do You Charge Them?
A retainer is an initial payment made to the firm before any legal work begins. Retainers are essentially deposits against future legal fees and expenses. A retainer is beneficial for both the attorney and the client because it allows the client to manage how much they spend while ensuring the law firm is paid for the work they do.
Since we don’t know or control what future legal fees are going to be we require a one-time deposit, your retainer, at the start of the case. Your retainer will be held in trust and once the case ends, any remaining funds returned to you.
Our Retainer Fees
Our bespoke retainer structure is based both on client needs and the complexities of individual situations. A retainer should give your legal team the ability to be as agile and aggressive as needed to accomplish your goals. Our retainer structure is designed to ensure that all clients receive the pinnacle of representation: accessibility, genuine care, and unrelenting advocacy. When deciding which retainer structure is best for you, there are a three key factors to consider:
- Core objectives: what does an ideal future look like for you and your family,
- Strategy: what legal remedies are most likely to further that vision, and
- Budget; what resources are you able and willing to dedicate to litigation
These three factors form the structure of your consultation with a partner of the firm. After discussing each variable, a partner will be able to suggest the best approach to representation for you:
Associate Representation - All day-to-day aspects of your case will be handled by a carefully selected Associate or Senior Associate Attorney. Case strategy and contested appearances such as temporary orders, protective orders, temporary restraining orders, depositions, and trials will be handled by your Responsible Attorney. A Partner or Senior Associate will be present for high-level oversight throughout the duration of your case. Additional partner involvement is available to all clients, at any stage of your case and you will find more information about that below.
Minimum Retainer: $7,500
Partner Representation - Case strategy and contested appearances such as temporary orders, protective orders, temporary restraining order, depositions, trials will be handled by one of our Board-Certified Partners, Brian Walters or Jake Gilbreath. The remainder of your case will be handled by a carefully selected Associate Attorney or Senior Associate attorney.
Minimum Retainer: $15,000
Additional Partner Involvement
If you would like to have one of our Partners involved in your case at any stage, we are more than happy to make that happen for you. We require as much notice as possible for additional Partner involvement so we can ensure their time is reserved for you when you need them. Both Partners, Brain Walters and Jake Gilbreath have an hourly rate of $650. As the premiere family law litigators in the State of Texas, partner involvement is traditionally reserved for extremely complex and contentious cases. However, our standard of care is consistent throughout the firm and you will receive unparalleled representation regardless of which approach you take.
You can learn more about our billing process by visiting Understanding Retainer Fees and Billing.
What to Expect with Billing
What Clients Can Expect To Pay
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. 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.
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 which retainer option you choose, or what happens during your case, you get all unused trust funds back at the conclusion of your case.
How Our Billing is Better
What is Different About Your Billing?
We do two things that differentiate us from other law firms:
- We’re Transparent
- We’re Efficient
We don’t think the cost of your case should be a mystery. Our experience has shown us that clients want a good product, and they are willing to pay for quality legal service. Understandably, clients also expect to know what they are paying for. We communicate constantly about costs of the case and what to expect moving forward. Would you buy a car without knowing what is going to cost? We wouldn’t either. We try to take the anxiety out of the process.
Second, we’re obsessed with efficiency. We’re cloud based, paperless, and focused on highest and best use of our team's talent and expertise. We don’t believe in throwing assistants and paralegals and extra billers on cases. We focus on having lawyers do the work so you’re paying for legal work, not for a secretary to make copies. We know what work needs to be done, and we do it efficiently. Time and time again we find that we are significantly out billed by our competition, regardless of hourly rates. You get what you pay for, and then some. That’s why we are so proud of our reviews.
How to Pay for a Divorce
Contested divorces are expensive. Oftentimes clients don’t have the cash in hand to pay what an attorney is demanding to get started or take the case to trial. So, what are your funding options?
Often one spouse controls all/most of the assets. This makes it difficult/impossible for the spouse without access to secure the representation they need. The good news is that there are options if you’re in this situation:
- Cash or reserve funds. For people who have the savings set aside, the easiest way to pay for an attorney is by using the savings.
- Credit cards. Many people use credit cards to pay retainer fees. Some attorneys accept credit cards. In a divorce, these charges are usually considered a “Community” expense, meaning that your spouse will share in the cost
- Borrowing money from your retirement account. This can be slow and have tax consequences.
- Borrowing money from family or friends in the form of a gift or a loan.
- Having friends/family pay the retainer fee directly to the law firm. The client still directs the case and makes all decisions.
- Third-Party Divorce Funding. Clients sometimes ask their attorney to finance their case by not collecting fees when due. This is a bad idea and probably a conflict of interest! An attorney cannot best represent a client who owes thousands of dollars to the firm. It could cloud the lawyers’ judgment or affect the level of representation provided to the client.
It is best to borrow money from financing companies, or outside sources, not from attorneys or law firms. If you owe your lawyer money, do you really think he or she is going to give you the service you deserve? It’s simple logic. The lawyer wants to work on your case, not worry about payment. The client wants the lawyer to spend time working on the case, not acting like a debt collector.
At the outset, we strive to have an honest discussion with clients about the cost of their case. Most clients fall into the traditional arrangement of paying a retainer and the lawyer billing against the retainer throughout the case until conclusion.
Our Billing Rates
- Bills At: $650/hr.
- Retainer Fee: Starting at $15,000
- Consultation Fee: $500
- Represents Clients in: Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth; Austin, San Antonio. Anywhere in Texas in certain situations.
- Experience: Licensed to practice since 1996; Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialists; Avvo Client Choice Award 2014-2018; approximately 3,500 cases handled; 150+ 5-star reviews.
- Bills At: $650/hr.
- Retainer Fee: Starting at $15,000
- Consultation Fee: $500
- Represents Clients in: Austin, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth; San Antonio.
- Experience: Licensed to Practice since 2009; Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; Rated 10.0 Superb by Avvo.com with over 80 five-star reviews; selected for inclusion in the Texas Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ list; frequently asked to serve as a guest speaker on various family law and litigation matters, with a particular focus on trial work and jury trials.
- Bills At: $550/hr.
- Retainer Fee: Starting at $7,500 to $20,000, depending on case
- Consultation Fee: $500
- Willing to Travel: Yes
- Experience: Licensed to Practice since 1974; Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; Rated 10.0 Superb by Avvo.com; selected for inclusion in the Texas Super Lawyers® ℠ list for every year since 2011; is AV Preeminent® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® (the highest rating possible)AV; listed by Texas Monthly as Top 50 Attorneys in Central Texas.
- Associate Attorneys bill at $325-$450/hr.
- Non-attorney staff (i.e. paralegals, law clerks, and/or legal assistants) bill at hourly rates between $100 to $225/hr.
Case Budget Calculator
For a better understanding of how we determine your case budget, please reference our case calculator.
How Much Will My Case Cost?