Key Takeaways:

  • In order to file a case in Civil Court, you will have to pay court fees of around $250-$500.
  • You will also have to pay attorneys’ fees, which will run at least $5,000-$10,000, and possibly more, if you pay your attorney up front.
  • There are several different types of billing arrangements offered by Attorney Schmidt for individuals and businesses in Wisconsin. They include the traditional hourly fee arrangement, contingency fee (a set percentage of the damages awarded), and flat fees for individual legal tasks.
  • Each fee arrangement has different pluses and minuses, as well as requirements if the fee arrangement is to be applied to a specific client.

The simple answer to this question is that in order to file a civil case, there are various fees you have to pay.

First, you will have to pay the Courts anywhere between $250 and $500 in fees. The real expense, though, is usually what you will have to pay your lawyer.

If you are paying a lawyer up front, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to properly file a case and do much of anything in that case for less than $5,000 to $10,000. By the time you’ve drafted the Complaint, filed the Complaint, and gone through even a bare minimum of what you’re going to have to do after the Complaint is filed, you are likely looking at a bill in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

Of course, cases can either resolve early or they can drag on for months and months—and in some cases, years and years. In a case that drags on for a while, the bills will likely be much higher than $5,000 to $10,000—that is, if you’re paying your lawyer in the traditional manner, which is up front.

What Are The Legal Fee Arrangements That Your Firm Offers For Civil Litigation To Individuals And Businesses In Wisconsin?

We offer several different fee arrangements for individuals and businesses in Wisconsin, depending on the type of the case and the needs of the client.

The traditional fee arrangement is hourly billing, where the client will advance a certain amount of money, or a “retainer,” that’s held in trust as we work on the case. We will bill by the hour against that retainer—that is, we will send the client bills every month and take money out of the trust as we earn it. When the retainer is exhausted, then we’ll ask the client to deposit more money.

There are advantages of this traditional fee arrangement for both lawyers and clients. It allows clients to sort of pay piecemeal, only for what actually is being done. For the lawyer, it ensures that they get paid for all the time that they put into the case.

The disadvantage of the traditional fee arrangement is that it makes it very difficult—frankly, impossible—to judge how much the case is going to cost up front. This is difficult for the client, because they don’t know how much they’re ultimately going to have to pay and when, and difficult for the attorney, because they’re not sure how long the case will take, and how much they will make.

The second type of common fee arrangement is called a contingency fee, which is an arrangement we offer in appropriate cases. Typically, a contingency fee is calculated based on the size of the recovery, but the most common contingency fee is one third of the amount recovered, if any.

In this sort of situation, the client doesn’t have to pay the lawyer anything up front. If and when there is a recovery in the case, it is divided between the client and the lawyer, with one third going to the lawyer and two thirds going to the client.

The advantage of contingency payment, obviously, is the one you hear on the old television ads for personal injury firms: there’s no fee unless we win. As such, the interest of the lawyer and their client are aligned. In addition, while the case is going on, the client isn’t paying the lawyer money up front, not knowing whether or when they’re ever going to see any of that money back.

The disadvantage of contingency payment is that it only works in certain kinds of cases. Contingency cases have to be cases where:

  1. The client in question is a plaintiff, and
  2. Has a reasonable likelihood of recovering a significant sum of money at the end of the case, and
  3. The defendant is likely going to be in a position to pay that money when it is recovered, either by a victory in the case or via settlement before trial.

Not all cases work that way. Sometimes, the client is a defendant in a case – and they are looking to try to avoid paying somebody money rather than trying to get money from somebody else. Sometimes the client is a plaintiff but the case is questionable when it comes to whether the defendant is going to be in a position to pay if the defendant is found liable at the end of a case. The lawyer has to calculate the odds based on their knowledge of the case, and decide whether they are willing to take that risk on non-payment in order to approve a contingency fee arrangement.

The third kind of fee arrangement that we offer is flat fee payment. This has not been as common in recent years, but if you were to look back at the history of legal arrangements, it was more common in the past.

In this situation, rather than telling the client that I will bill them by the hour at a particular rate, I tell the client that I will bill them a specific fee for conducting a specific task.

If the case is extremely simple, I might agree to handle an entire case for a flat fee of X amount of money. If it’s a more complicated case, I might break it down and say I will charge the client specific amounts for specific portions of the legal work. For example, I might charge $2000 to file the initial Complaint, $2000 to prepare for a deposition, $1000 to do the deposition, $5000 to write a brief, and so forth.

The advantage to this arrangement is that it gives the client some predictability and control over how much the case is going to cost and gives the lawyer certain knowledge as to what the cost of litigation is going to be as well.

The disadvantages for the client are similar to the disadvantages faced by the hourly fee arrangement—specifically, that you are paying up front. In addition, if the case is particularly complex, it is going to get really expensive.

The disadvantage from the lawyer’s perspective is that one has to be really good at estimating how time-intensive things are going to be. I’ve done this long enough that I have a reasonably good idea of how long specific tasks will take me in specific cases. But it can be difficult if you are not in a good position to estimate how long it is going to take to complete certain tasks.

For more information on Cost Of Filing A Civil Case In Wisconsin, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (920) 759-8114 today.

T. Wickham Schmidt, Esq. A Professional Service Corporation

If You Have More Questions About Your Case.
Call Wick Today (920) 759-8114

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