Retaining The Firm

What Is A Retainer Fee and Why Do You Charge Them?

A retainer is a payment made to the firm when hired. Retainers are deposits against future legal fees and expenses, since we don’t know exactly what your future legal fees will be. Your retainer will be held in trust until earned, and once the case ends any remaining funds will be returned to you.

Our Retainer Fees

Our 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 three key factors to consider:

  1. Core objectives: what does an ideal future look like for you and your family,
  2. Strategy: what legal remedies are most likely to further that vision, and
  3. 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. Legal personnel will be assigned to your case based on your needs and the complexity of your case.

We offer customized staffing based on case complexity and the level of conflict. We have a team of lawyers who come from a diverse background and have extensive of experience practicing law. Depending on the facts of your case, you will be assigned a “responsible attorney” and possibly additional attorneys or staff.

Another factor that could affect the way your case is staffed is your budget. Our retainer fees start at $7,500 and go up from there based on case complexity and the level of conflict. If you would like a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay in legal fees, please use our Case Budget Calculator.

You can learn more about our billing process by visiting Understanding Retainer Fees and Billing.

What to Expect with Billing

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.

Contested divorces are expensive. Often times 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.

Brian D. Walters, Partner

  • Bills At: $700/hr.
  • Retainer Fee: Starting at $15,000
  • Consultation Fee: $500
  • Represents Clients in: Brian litigates in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio. Brian is also frequently retained by local counsel and clients outside this markets and statewide on complex and high conflict cases.
  • 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.

James “Jake” Gilbreath, Partner

  • Bills At: $700/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.

James W. Piper, Of Counsel

  • 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.

Other Attorney & Staff Fees

  • 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.

For a better understanding of how we determine your case budget, please reference our case calculator.

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Brian and his staff were great. Brian’s direction and expertise provided me with the legal information relevant for my needs over several years now. He listens and is steadfast which gave me comfort in the courses of action. I highly recommend him.Brian and his staff were great. Brian’s direction and expertise provided me with the legal information...

Larry M.

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