What is an availability fee in a retainer agreement? Will it be used for future court expenses? 15 Answers as of February 06, 2013

I'm looking for an attorney that will have a flat rate for their services to representing me. I was told from one that a $750 retainer would be the flat rate covering everything, but certain wording like availability fee in the retainer makes me think twice. Are there any standard retainer agreements with flat rates? My goal was to try and plea a DWI refusal out before the hearing. I wanted a flat rate in case that doesn't work out and more hearings are needed.

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The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier
The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier | Seth D. Schraier
You should ask the attorney to specifically clarify what the availability fee covers and where it would be charged. Attorney retainer agreements vary greatly in terms of what each attorney covers as part of their services, and whether everything is done with one flat fee or if there are additional fees associated with their services. In the fee arrangements I prepare I usually provide flat fee services which are dependent on the number of court appearances although the attorney you consulted with may do things differently.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/6/2013
Timothy J. Thill P.C.
Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
Fees vary from lawyer to lawyer. It is impossible to guess what any particular lawyer will charge. I suggest contacting as many as possible, compare their fee arrangements and go for the best deal possible.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 2/6/2013
Law Office of Andrew Roberts
Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
If you want to plead guilty to a DUI refusal a flat fee agreement works.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/6/2013
Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
A flat fee retainer agreement is frequently used in criminal and traffic proceedings. In the retainer agreement, it should clearly state that the fee covers all proceedings, and clearly state what it does not cover. If it does not have such language, it may be an open-ended flat fee agreement, which is generally not approved by the bar.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 2/6/2013
Lawrence Lewis
Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
There are many attorneys that will charge a flat fee. Few reputable ones will handle a Driving Under Iinfluence for less than $ 2000.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 2/4/2013
    Law Office of Eric S. Lumberg | Eric S. Lumberg
    A retainer can cover the entire legal matter depending on what you agree to with the lawyer. Consult further regarding this issue.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/4/2013
    Law Office of Kevin C. Flesch | Lori Beck
    A flat rate should be just that. However, the flat rate does not include costs, such as discovery and postage. I do not know what an "availability" rate is.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 2/4/2013
    Steven Dodge | Steven Dodge
    I am unsure what an availability fee would be. I don't have any such thing in my retainer so I wouldn't know unless I saw the agreement. A $750 flat fee for an OWI? That would depend on what county it is in. If you would like a further response, let me know what district court has your case.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/4/2013
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD | Mace Yampolsky
    A flat fee is one fee. Sometimes lawyers will charge 1 fee if the cases pleads and an additional fee if it goes to trial We just charge 1 fee for everything. But $750 is really cheap for a Driving Under the Influence.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/4/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    You have asked a multiple of questions. A retainer is strictly an advance payment for the services being offered. Some retainers state that the fee would not be forfeited even if he did little to nothing. An availability fee "guarantees" that the attorney would be available to handle your case in a timely manner regardless of his case load. You are generally charged for all work done after the availability fee is used up. That said, some pocket the availability fee and, then charge you for every minute of work done. You can get fixed fee representation. I suggest you contact your county's lawyer referral service. The normal fee for DUIs start at $3,000. It escalates above this depending on the complexity of the case and whether you go to trial. Finally, never sign a document you do not understand.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 2/4/2013
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law | Mark A. Broughton
    Honestly, you are not going to get an attorney worth his/her salt on a DUI refusal case for that amount. While retainer agreements are subject to negotiated terms, you are very unlikely to retain an attorney for all contingencies - including a trial and pre-trial motions - for that amount. Once the attorney becomes the attorney of record by making a court appearance on your behalf, he/she has to be "relieved" by the judge, and simply not getting enough money from the client at the outset is not sufficient legal justification. So, if he/she did not get the plea agreement you were looking for, he/she is stuck doing more work for insufficient compensation. How hard do you think he/she is going to work for you if he/she has not been paid enough? On the other hand, if the judge grants his/her motion to be relieved you will have lost your retainer fee and will then have no attorney. And heck, you may have some terrific defenses and should not be taking a deal at all! Do yourself a favor: hire a qualified DUI defense attorney and get the best result. If you cannot afford to hire a good attorney, you will be appointed a public defender.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/4/2013
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    All I can tell you is, if all you're spending is $750, you won't get anything. You get what you pay for pal. I suggest you go and hire a real Driving Under the Influence specialist, otherwise you might as just represent yourself and go plead guilty.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/4/2013
    Law Office of Russell A. Warren
    Law Office of Russell A. Warren | Russell A. Warren
    There is no standardization on retainers-each attorney and office may have different fee schedules. With my office, I normally charge a flat rate (which depends on the type of charge and jurisdiction) for handling a "negotiated" disposition. Trial fees are extra and above. I also offer a "permanent" retainer which you forward to office which I hold in a trust account. I only draw from that amount on file when you come to me with a new case etc. Those can start at $500 and up depending on how much you want to have available.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 2/4/2013
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    Are you talking about a Department Motor Vehicles refusal hearing? I don't think that can be plead out.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 2/4/2013
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