Legal Fees Explained

So you’ve decided that you’d like to hire an employment/labour law firm. What about legal fees? You’ve seen the ads on TV and online where lawyers promise not to take a cut of anything until you win. Other lawyers’ services seem to cost an arm and a leg. How do you navigate the world of legal fees? This can be tricky, so below we’ve outlined some of the most common fee structures for employment lawyers.

Hourly Rate

This is one of the most popular fee structures used by employment lawyers. The lawyer charges an hourly rate for their time, and the client pays for the actual time spent working on the case. Basically, the lawyer will track every minute (or even every six minutes, to be exact) they spend on your case, and they’ll charge you for that time. That means if they spend 18 minutes on the phone with you, they’re gonna bill you for 0.3 hours.

Hourly rates can vary depending on the lawyer’s experience, expertise, and location. One major concern about hourly rates is how unpredictable they can be. After all, how can you know exactly how much time a lawyer will spend on your case? If you’re going with an hourly billing structure, make sure you keep an eye on the clock and ask your lawyer to keep you updated on their time spent. At SpringLaw, we try our best to give clients estimates for projects before we get started on them to reduce the experiences of sticker shock. We’re usually able to stick to the estimated timeline, but let’s be real, matters can evolve and become more complex. If there’s another party, the hardest thing to predict is how they’ll respond. So if things take a turn and we need to spend a bit longer than expected, we give our clients a heads up ASAP and let them know how it’ll affect their pocketbooks. Simple as that.

Flat Fee

Not feeling the hourly vibe? There are other billing structures out there, like flat fees.

A flat fee is a set price for a particular service or project. For example, an employment lawyer might charge a flat fee for reviewing a contract or drafting a severance agreement. Flat fees can be beneficial because they provide certainty about the cost of legal services. It’s best to avoid too-good-to-be-true lowball flat fees for complex legal matters though; you might find that your lawyer tries to tack on some extra charges later on, so it’s best to be very clear about the scope of the services from the outset!

Contingency Fee

These are the lawyers you often see on TV, promising that they don’t get paid unless you get paid. Basically, they take a cut of any money you win (or settle) from your case. Contingency fees are most commonly used in wrongful dismissal cases brought by employees. They can be a great option if you don’t have the cash upfront, but keep in mind that the lawyer’s cut can be steep. Plus, not all cases are suitable for a contingency fee arrangement.

Subscription Program

A subscription program for legal services is a relatively new and innovative way for individuals and businesses to access legal services. With a subscription program, you pay a flat monthly or annual fee to receive access to a variety of legal services, such as contract prep, document review, and legal advice. Think of it as a Netflix for legal services, except with fewer binge-worthy shows and more legal expertise at your fingertips. This can be especially useful for businesses that need regular access to legal services but may not have the resources to hire an in-house legal team. Our SpringLaw team is big on Subscription Programs for our employer clients, which include both a block of monthly hours and access to a variety of legal documents on our Members’ Hub. Talk to us for options and to collaborate on a bespoke program that works for your business. 

Integrated Legal Solutions

This is a model SpringLaw has been a pioneer in developing. In this innovative model, you would purchase one of our DIY legal products available 24/7 on our website. For any customization or to review the edits you have made, you would retain us for hourly services. This gives you the flexibility and agency to do as much or as little heavy lifting on your end to bring down the cost, while still having a qualified lawyer helping you get the final solution over the finish line.

Hybrid Billing 

Can’t decide between these options? Hybrid billing – which combines two or more fee structures – may be your best bet. For example, some of our employer clients are on a Subscription Program that covers all legal services up to litigation, but we also charge hourly for any employment matter that hits the court. Hybrid fees can provide flexibility and cost-effectiveness for clients.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which fee structure is the right fit for you and your legal needs. Just make sure you’re clear on the terms and conditions before you sign on the dotted line, and don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer to break down fee structure options for you at the beginning and throughout the course of your relationship with them!

If you would like to learn more about our hourly services, flat fee consults, DIY legal products, subscription program or anything in between, get in touch!