By DANIEL SONNINSHINE
Fees for legal services are paid in three primary manners: by an hourly rate, a contingency fee (a percentage of a settlement or a damage award), or a flat rate. Contingency fees are utilized in only a select few types of matters, most of which are personal injury cases, such as automobile accidents and slip-and-falls. Attorneys will not offer contingency fee rates in more than these handful of areas because they are either not practicable or because they are not permitted in certain types of law (e.g., family law and criminal law). While a contingency fee can often be quite profitable for a lawyer – with the standard fee received by the barrister being 33 1/3% of the settlement proceeds or damage award from a trial verdict – there is considerable risk for the attorney in handling cases under this arrangement, which risk is as follows: the firm will get paid zero if there is no such settlement or damage award.
The two most used fee models for lawyers are the hourly rate and flat fee systems. Arguments have abounded, forever, among attorneys regarding which payment structure is better. On the one hand, an hourly rate fee seems attractive because the client “is simply paying for the work the attorney is carrying out”, as one civil lawyer declared. That’s a fair statement. However, clients, many times, just do not like open-ended situations; while it is reasonable that a lawyer is paid for every minute of his/her work, a considerable amount of clients do not want to receive monthly bills itemizing every phone call, paragraph written, and research session conducted by their attorneys. They do not relish the uncertainty of exactly what they are paying for the legal services for which they have contracted.
If a person hires a plumber to fix her clogged sink, she wants to know if the fee is $100, $500 or some other fixed, flat rate. She doesn’t want to engage a deal at $75 or $100 per hour, being left in the unknown what the final fee will be; she doesn’t want uncertainty, but rather desires certainty. For most professions, the flat fee, accordingly, prevails. Legal clients, accustomed to this fixed payment structure in the predominant number of deals they execute outside of law, thus, often would rather a flat fee deal with their lawyers.
Bring in Kimberly Bennett and her law firm, K Bennett Law, into this equation, and one finds an innovative, exciting flat fee structure, as well as a talented, motivating, caring attorney who leads the outfit. Bennett, who is barred in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but headquarters her legal operations from Atlanta, focuses her practice on legal branding for companies and entrepreneurs. Being wholly aware that her clients have set budgets, she accommodates them by offering flat, monthly fees, wherein they pay the same figure to K Bennett Law regardless of the number of hours churned out by the firm’s lawyers. This financial stability is so very helpful to the growing companies that Bennett’s firm serves.
Bennett, whose practice focuses on business/commercial law, trademark/copyright law, and employment/labor law, offers varied reasonably priced flat monthly fee packages that can be found on the “Legal Subscriptions and Brand Counseling” page of K Bennett Law’s website. For example, for only $1,000 per month, a business client will get all of the following from Bennett and her legal team:
- Monthly document review
- Unlimited Cease & Desist letters
- Unlimited scheduled client quick calls
- Ongoing trademark monitoring & USPTO filings
- annual brand assessment
- quarterly trademark search
- quarterly strategy session
- quarterly legal project
- projects include:
(1) entity restructuring,
(2) trademark application,
(3) contract review & guidance,
(4) customized contract template, or
(5) operations development & support
Through Bennett’s firm, clients can, routinely, contact their lawyer without the worry of every conversation resulting in a significant bill, and they can have documents reviewed and letters written – en masse – without paying a single dime more than the very appealing $1,000 monthly flat fee. On her website, Bennett states:
“At K Bennett Law LLC, the practice’s core business model is to provide monthly, subscription legal services to clients that desire ongoing brand protection and growth support but are not quite ready to hire a full-time attorney. We go beyond a project attorney and learn your business, grow with your business and, when your business is ready, we help transition your business to a full-time attorney. We are more than an attorney, we are your strategic team member focused on providing business-centric legal advice to help your company grow from growing business to industry leader.”
This is a model that nearly every small business and growing entrepreneur can enjoy. Justice is served.
Daniel Sonninshine is an Empire State News staff writer, who is in search of greatness. A 20-something smart fellow, he is now lifting weights in an effort to obtain more power. If that doesn’t work, he will ask to write more editorials for Empire State News and less fact articles. He also dabbles in film reviews. Favorite flicks include The Godfather, Blazing Saddles, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, It’s a Wonderful Life, and The Passion of the Christ.
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