When it comes to fees, this is our most important principle: We always tell our clients in advance what costs they will be looking at, how the fees will be calculated and what billing system would best suit the client. This means that you will never receive a “nasty surprise bill” from ZELLER & SEYFERT. We strongly feel that such surprise bills are unacceptable for competitive businesses these days as everyone must meet their own budgets.
Hourly billing is neither fair nor does it favor efficiency.
We offer billing models which we feel are much fairer than hourly billing. This remains the standard in the field of Business Litigation. In our view, hourly billing rate is not suitable for the future of legal services, as it incentivizes inefficiency: Under an hourly billing rate, a skilled lawyer who works quick and determined would have to accept lower fees than another lawyer completing the same piece of work in much longer time. To put it in Richard Susskind’s words: “Hourly billing is an institutionalized disincentive to efficiency.”
Alternative fee arrangements
Clients are becoming more aware that hourly bill rate is counterproductive and therefore frequently do not accept hourly fee agreements as standard. We realize that our clients are under tremendous budget constraints in a competitive market, often seeking more-for-less. Accordingly, they need to optimize their legal costs in the direction to pay for the output of their lawyers (i.e. the results), not for the input (i.e. the time spent).
Fixed fees for milestones
In our law practice, one method of billing has proven to overcome the shortcomings of hourly billing rate. We call it fixed fees for milestones, or fixed success fees.
What are fixed fees for milestones? In advance, we discuss the key milestones of the relevant dispute or project, e.g. drafting a complaint, drafting a subsequent pleading, courtroom representation at a hearing, drafting an appeal brief, etc. For each of these previously agreed milestones we will define a value. Whenever we reach a milestone, we will bill the agreed amount. That’s it, no catch. Just note that for reasons of professional law, we are obliged not to undermine the minimum fees according to §§ 4 RVG, 49b BRAO.
Contingency fees/success-driven fees
We think a fixed success-driven fee is usually the fairest billing model the parties can agree on. However, there are restrictions under German Law regarding this model:
We are obliged to carefully assess whether a client in the concrete circumstances is qualified under the law to enter into a contingency fee agreement or not. The advantage for both sides is obvious: If we are not successful there will be no or a relatively small fee (result: both sides equally incur losses). If we win on your behalf, we receive a fair share of this success (result: both sides are acquire wins). If you think your case is suitable for a success-driven fee, please approach us: We will then check if this is permitted by law on an individual case (this is mainly regulated in §§ 4a RVG, 49b(2) BRAO).
A relatively new and innovative alternative billing model is what we call “conflict outsourcing“. In essence, we charge a fixed monthly fee for which we handle all of the conflicts which arise from a particular legal relationship for you. Handling refers to correspondence and negotiations with the opponent side, taking all measures of legal action, litigation or the amicable settlement of the case. Of course, you will keep the ultimate authority to decide over the concrete procedure in each individual case.
For example, the handling of all Employment and Labor Law conflicts in relation to all employees in a particular department or a specific operation unit would be a possible application of this billing model in practice. In Intellectual Property cases, the takeover of all conceivable conflicts arising from the violation of individual rights of your intellectual property portfolio could be another scenario. Please note, however, that in this model we are legally obliged not to undermine the minimum fees according to §§ 4 RVG, 49b BRAO. Please get in touch with us if you would like to discuss all practical options of conflict outsourcing for your business.
Contact us to discuss our attorney fees
Our attorney fee structure is entirely transparent and therefore fully predictable for you. Should you wish to discuss our attorney fee and cost structure, please contact us via one of the following options: