UNDERSTANDING FEES, DISBURSEMENTS AND BILLING METHODS
We are a law firm dedicated to only charging clients in accordance with strict guidelines established by the Law Society of Ontario which set out that lawyer fees must be “fair, reasonable and disclosed to the client in a timely manner”. When you work with our law firm, we generally utilize two billing methods. These include charges made to you based on our hourly rate for time spent on your matter or a fixed fee charged for performing a certain task.
If we offer you a fixed fee for performing a matter, unless otherwise stated in our initial retainer with you, the fee will not change regardless of the amount of time spent on your matter. As such, we only offer fixed fees on matters where we can estimate with relative accuracy the amount of time that will be spent on your matter. Examples of scenarios where our law firm will offer fixed fees include:
- Certain residential real estate transactions;
- Certain commercial contracts;
- Notarization of documents;
- Certain corporate and government filings;
- Certain small-sized corporate transactions; and
- Simple incorporations and preparation of a minute book.
If we offer you a fixed fee for the completion of a certain matter, this will be explicitly set out in our initial retainer agreement with you. The retainer agreement will likely set out matters that are specifically excluded from the retainer. In the legal industry, this is referred to as a limited-scope retainer. For example, while we may offer you a fixed fee for the completion of a real estate transaction, any extensions of the closing date may not be included in the fixed fee offered to you. These exceptions will be clearly set out in your retainer agreement, so you are aware of them prior to retaining us.
On matters where we charge an hourly rate, our retainer will specifically set out the hourly rate for our lawyer(s), student(s), or law clerks who work on your matter. In certain scenarios, it may be possible for us to provide you with an estimate of the number of hours we predict will be spent on your matter. In other scenarios, your matter may be ongoing and as such, we may not be able to provide you with an accurate estimate. Examples of matters where we typically charge an hourly rate include:
- Certain complex real estate transactions;
- Most corporate share purchase transactions;
- Drafting of complex or lengthy commercial contracts; and
- Legal consultation and advisory.
Anytime you work with a lawyer, you will likely be responsible for payment for disbursements in addition to fees. Disbursements are expenses that a lawyer pays on your behalf to third parties or expenses incurred by the lawyer while moving your matter forward. Disbursements can be divided into soft and hard categories. Soft disbursements are not paid directly to a third party and include things such as photocopies, postage, and software fees. Hard disbursements are expenses paid directly to a third party which may include: application fees, land registration fees, and government fees. Invoices you receive from our firm will always have a section dedicated to disbursements if there were disbursements incurred on your behalf.
Our payment methods include wire transfer, electronic funds transfer, email money transfer, credit card, and cash retainers limited to the maximum amount authorized by the Law Society of Ontario. Please note that prior to being charged, our office will always send you an invoice in a draft format so you can see the charges that you will incur. Once payment has been made, we will provide you with a finalized version of your invoice which shall serve as proof of payment.
For further information about fee structures at our firm or if you require a quote for a legal matter, please contact us today.