payment options & attorney's fees

Credit & Debit Card Payments

Sternic Law Offices accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, and Bank Debit Cards. Over the phone payments may be subject to 2.98% convenience fee. To avoid additional charges, you can pay your bill on-line by clicking the “Pay Now” button below, and you will be directed to our secure PayPal account page.

 

 

NOTICE: This payment option is not available for Immigration Law Clients.

 

Other Payment Options

Installment Payment Plan

For Clients with established payment history, Payment Plans start at $200.00 per month with interest rates as low as 5.99% APR.  For new clients, APR on carried over account balance starts at 14.99%. Minimum monthly payment obligation is contingent upon balance on the account. .

 

types of attorney's fees & retainers

Contingent Fee

In a contingency fee arrangement, a client is not charged attorney fees if he/she loses the case.  However, the client will be financially responsible for the costs a law firm incurred.  If the client recovers damages from settlement or a favorable verdict, the attorney receives the fee from the recovery.  The attorney's permitted fee varies depending on the type of the case and statutory guidelines.
The fee is generally based on the contractual agreement between the attorney and the party, but is also limited by local rules for “reasonableness.” In most jurisdictions, contingent fees are considered to be "reasonable" even if they are as high as 33% to 45% of gross recovery.  The fee is calculated as an upfront agreed percentage that would be taken from gross amount received either through judgments or settlements.  The percentage is subject to the ethical rules of professional conduct, and in some circumstances, statutory limitations.  Sternic Law Offices charges contingency fees as low as 20% in Workers’ Compensation Claims and as high as 40% in complex tort litigation cases.

A contingency fee arrangement provides access to the courts for those who cannot afford to pay attorneys’ fees and costs of civil litigation.  Contingency fees also provide a powerful motivation to the attorney to work diligently on the client’s case.  In other types of litigation where clients pay the attorney by the hour for their time, it makes little economic difference to the attorney whether the client has a successful outcome to the litigation.  Finally, because lawyers assume the financial risk of litigation, the number of speculative or unmeritorious cases may be reduced.

Contingency fees do not guarantee civil justice or even access to the courts.  Lawyers sometimes “cherry pick” only the strongest claims which are most likely to succeed.  Not all cases are immediately transparent.  Some require extensive investigation before the chances of success can be properly assessed.  Such cases might be turned away because even the initial assessment of their strength is costly and risky.

 

Hourly Fee

Certain areas of practice like Family Law and Business Law are subject to hourly charges.  Sternic Law Offices has competitive hourly rates that are commensurate with our attorneys’ experience and market settings.  We will charge in increments of one-tenth of an hour (0.10 hours), rounded off for each particular activity to the next one-tenth of an hour.  The minimum time charged for any particular activity will be one-tenth of an hour.  All hourly contracts are subject to three different rates:

  1. Office Time Rate – for time spent by an attorney in the office or on travel time,
  2. Emergency and Weekend Time Rage - for time spent by an attorney in the office working on weekends, legal holidays, and matters of an emergency nature, and
  3. Court Time Rate - for time spent by an attorney out of the office for conferences, discovery procedures, depositions, in Court, and the like.

 

Retainers

Classic Retainer

Also referred to as a “true,” “engagement,” or “general” retainer, funds are paid by a client to the lawyer in order to secure the lawyer’s availability during a specified period of time or for a specified matter.  This type of retainer is earned when paid and immediately becomes property of the lawyer, regardless of whether the lawyer ever actually performs any services for the client and, therefore, is not deposited in the client trust account.  

This type of retainer may be part of our engagement agreement if a client requests priority handling of his or her case, and wishes to have 24/7 access to our attorneys.  The amount of retainer depends on the nature and complexity of each matter.


Security Retainer

Under this type of retainer, funds paid to the lawyer are not considered present payment for future services but are intended to secure payment of fees for the future services the lawyer is expected to perform.  This type of retainer remains the property of the client and, therefore, must be deposited in a client trust account and kept separate from the lawyer’s own property until the lawyer applies it to charges for services that are actually rendered.  If the lawyer and client agree that the client will pay a security retainer, that term should be used in any written agreement.  Any unused portion of the retainer is refunded to the client under Rules 1.15(b) and 1.16(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. 

This type of retainer is requested while handling matters like divorce cases, business contract reviews, business litigation, physician employment contract negotiations, and a like.  The amount of retainer would depend on complexity of the issues involved and approximate length of the proceedings.


Advance Payment Retainer

In contrast to the security retainer, the funds paid to the lawyer under this retainer are intended by the client to be present payment to the lawyer in exchange for the commitment to provide legal services in the future.  Ownership of this retainer passes to the lawyer immediately upon payment and is the lawyer’s property and, therefore, may not be deposited in the client trust account; however, any portion of an advance payment retainer that is not earned must be refunded to the client.

This type of retainer may be requested in cases that need pre-evaluation investigation to determine case worthiness.  The funds would be used to engage experts who would determine whether proper causation exists under provided circumstances

 

Fixed/Flat Fee Agreements

In addition to the three types of retainers described above, Rule 1.15 recognizes fixed fee agreements, also referred to as a “flat” or “lump-sum” fee, where the lawyer agrees to provide a specific service (e.g., defense of a criminal charge, a real estate closing, or preparation of a will or trust) for a fixed amount paid by the client to engage a lawyer at the outset of a matter.  Unlike an advance payment retainer, a fixed fee is generally not subject to the obligation to refund any portion to the client; however, a fixed fee is subject, like all fees, to scrutiny and the fee charged must reasonable under the circumstances as set forth in Rule 1.5(a) and any portion of the fee must be refunded to the client under Rule 1.16(d) if retention of the entire fee would be unreasonable and excessive under the circumstances.

Sternic Law Offices uses this form of payment in cases when workload is predictable.  Most often, we will charge a flat fee when reviewing contracts, representing uncontested divorce cases, and handling most immigration cases.

 

Have More Questions?

Call our office at 312-644-4545 to discuss your situation with one of our attorneys today.