Unlike traditional fee structures, where the attorney tells you how much work needs to done, how much it will cost and the manner in which you will be charged, KMH believes you should be charged for just the services you need, based on what you personally can afford to pay and in the manner that works best for you.
In Minnesota, the typical cost for a divorce is between $3,500 and $25,000, with the average cost being $11,400. Costs are increased when the spouses have a high net worth, children or when spousal maintenance is being disputed. Using a traditional fee structure, a client is generally expected to give an attorney a retainer (usually between $2,000 and $5,000) which the attorney deposits into an account. After the attorney performs work, the client is billed and the fees are taken out of the account. When those funds are depleted, the attorney goes back to the client for more money. This cycle repeats itself until the case is concluded.
This type of arrangement requires a great deal of administrative work. The attorney usually keeps track of hours and fractions of hours spent on the case. The attorney generally also charges for other expenses, such as making copies, postage and mileage for travel to meetings or court appearances on the client’s behalf. Of course, there’s also a lot of overhead built into the attorney’s hourly fee, since the attorney has to pay for expenses such as rent, office furniture and equipment, and research subscription fees. And then there’s the staff to keep track of all the fees and bill the clients, etc.
KMH is able to charge less than a “traditional” attorney because it has eliminated a great deal of the administrative and overhead costs that other firms pass on to clients. KMH realize you don’t care if your legal services are performed at a mahogany desk in a fancy office with a nice view. You just want a well-researched, effective work product that’s going to get you the desired result. Thus, KMH has reduced overheard as much as possible, without cutting corners on the quality of service provided. In fact, every attorney is ethically required to be thorough and prepared to represent a client in a legal matter. To cut corners or do any less is unethical and could result in the loss of a law license.
Because every case is different, different fee structures may lend themselves better to certain cases. During your initial consultation, we’ll discuss the many available options and assist you in deciding which fee structure will likely work best in your particular situation.
FLAT FEES and
“UNBUNDLING” LEGAL SERVICES
Instead of being charged for all the time spent on your case, you may have the option of paying a flat fee. When you pay a traditional hourly rate, the attorney and the client don’t always have their interests fully aligned. The attorney is getting paid as long as the case proceeds, so there may be less incentive to resolve the case as expeditiously as possible. The client, not the attorney, assumes the risk of the case dragging on. Using a flat fee arrangement, the client pays the attorney an agreed upon sum for an agreed upon amount of work. The attorney and the client’s interests are aligned because both benefit if the case is resolved quickly.
Sometimes you don’t need an attorney to represent you in an entire case from start to finish. Using flat fees, it’s possible to “unbundle” legal services so you pay only for the services you need. For example, if you have a simple, uncontested divorce, you may be able to go to your county’s self-help center and obtain a divorce packet that will give you all the paperwork you need to start your divorce proceeding. If you have questions or want to have an attorney look over your paperwork before it’s filed and served, KMH could do that. If you simply wanted to have your legal situation assessed and discuss possible options, KMH could do that. You could also hire KMH to respond to a petition or motion, to assist you in preparing for court, or to draft financial disclosures orders and stipulations. No task is too simple or too small.
SLIDING SCALE FEES
Every case is unique and it’s possible that your case may not lend itself to being charged on a flat fee basis. It may be better to use a sliding scale fee structure. The average hourly fee for a Minnesota attorney is $270 and the average amount paid for attorneys’ fees in a Minnesota divorce is $9,000, a price tag much larger than many Minnesotans can afford. KMH is committed to providing access to legal representation to clients who may not otherwise be able to afford it. Because it has eliminated many overhead and administrative costs, it’s able to bill you according to the following fee schedule, which is based on the 2018 Poverty Guidelines.