Our experience is most clients we represent prefer a flat fee agreement. It is easier to help make a decision between lawyers. It is easier to budget and provides certainty for a client that he or she can afford the full services needed. Some clients feel an hourly fee is more fair and are willing to accept the idea the final bill is not certain.
Hourly fees normally have a deposit of funds into a lawyer’s trust account which the lawyer “draws’ from when she earns the fee by performing the legal services for the client. Any remaining fees not earned are returned to the client. If the money runs out and there are still legal services to perform, the client will be expected to deposit additional fees to cover the expected future fees.
Lawyers who specialize can make an educated guess of how much work a particular case will require and provide the client with a flat fee for representation. These fees may take on many forms. Some have payment plans. Some have “benchmarks” such as a fee for representation in a case resolved in a plea and then require additional money for a motion which may dispose or limit the case and another fee for a trial.
There is nothing wrong with either type of fee. Each is designed for the comfort of the client. Most lawyers whose practice is handling criminal cases will consider both styles of fee agreements.