How Family Law Files Are Billed in Vancouver, British Columbia
In British Columbia, family lawyers cannot take a case on a contingency basis (where they receive a percentage of the final amount awarded at the end of trial or settlement). Family lawyers require clients to pay a lump sum up front, called a retainer, which is held in their trust account to be used to pay bills as they are issued.
The amount of your retainer depends on the complexity of your case and the estimate of the amount of work involved. When that retainer is depleted, you will be required to replenish the retainer to the original amount, or more if attempts to negotiate a resolution have not been successful and you and your lawyer decide together that litigation is necessary.
Amount of a Retainer
The amount of your initial retainer will be established at the outset upon an analysis of the work to be done. This amount can range from $2,500 to $25,000, depending on the issues and status of your file. If a trial date is set, you will have up until 60 days prior to your trial to pay your trial retainer, which is normally set between $5,000 and $7,500 per day of trial. Any funds that remain after your file is resolved will be paid to you once your final account is satisfied.
How Lawyers Bill You
Lawyers traditionally bill in 6 minute increments, or 1/10th of an hour. It has become growing practice by some lawyers to charge their minimum amount of time as 0.2, or 12 minute increments, for any matter taking 12 minutes or less (such as reading an email or taking a phone message). At Paine Edmonds LLP in Vancouver, we have not followed this practice and continue to bill in 0.1 hour increments.
Other costs associated with your file will be taxes and disbursements. Disbursements are any costs incurred on your behalf, such as courier fees, court filing fees, faxes, copying, filing fees, or long distance phone calls. Sometimes significant disbursements, such as medical reports or costs for a mediator, will need to be paid by you directly, especially in cases where the disbursement risks depleting your retainer.
Finding Cost-Effective Legal Representation
The lawyers at Paine Edmonds LLP know that the costs involved in litigation can be scary, and that often our clients are at risk of depleting critical personal resources while attempting to resolve your family law issues. We will engage in a cost-benefit analysis with you, so that you can feel confident that you are spending your money effectively during this difficult time. We will work hard with you to explore options for resolving your file in the most cost-effective manner, while continuing to advocate for the best possible result.