Sunday, February 7, 2010


A review of Google searches made by Florida homeowners performing on-line research suggests that there are a significant number of homeowners trying to find out how much it costs to have an attorney defend them in foreclosure litigation. While our firm includes its price in its website ($495.00 per month on loans under $500,000) it appears that most law firms do not include their prices in their websites. To help homeowners make informed decisions about the cost of hiring a lawyer to defend themselves and their home in a foreclosure case, it is necessary to discuss the four most common pricing models among law firms that defend foreclosure cases. The four most common models are: Fixed Fee, Hourly, Monthly, and Hybrid.


ADVANTAGE: The Homeowner Pays One time.
DISADVANTAGE: Lawyer has little incentive to work on the case. Arrangement may put lawyer’s interest of obtaining reasonable hourly rate in conflict with client’s goals.
CAUTION: Look our for hidden fees.

When a lawyer represents homeowners on a fixed fee basis all the money the lawyer will ever receive is in the lawyers hands on day one. Working harder on the case or spending more time on the file will not benefit the firm’s bottom line. If the lawyer charges $2,400 for a fixed fee defense and usually changes $300.00 per hour, then you can divide the cost of the defense by the hourly rate to figure out how many hours the lawyer expects to spend on the case. Will the lawyer who is hired on a fixed fee basis take a deposition or file a motion to compel better answers to a request for production of documents, if doing so only increases the amount of work the lawyer has to do and the duration of the case? Will the lawyer hired on a fixed fee basis attend mediation and summary judgment hearings on the client’s behalf. Some lawyers who accept foreclosure cases on a fixed fee basis only intend to file an answer and discovery requests. If a fixed fee representation is being considered the homeowner should be frank with the prospective lawyer during the initial interview. The client and lawyer should be on the same page as to what is included in the fixed fee and whether the lawyer contemplates attending mediation and summary judgment hearings.

ADVANTAGE: Lawyer has a financial incentive to work on the case
DISADVANTAGES: Lawyer has a financial inventive to work on the case. Fees may vary widely from month to month.

It is hard for consumers to evaluate how much time various legal tasks require. The lawyer may have incentive to perform work because it is billable rather than crucial to advancing the case. The amount of each bill may vary greatly depending amount of time spent by the lawyer.


ADVANTAGES: Fees are the same every month. Lawyer has a financial incentive to work on the case.
DISADVANTAGE: Penalizes lawyer for rapid resolution of case.

For a homeowner seeking to stay in their home for as long as possible, monthly fees will align the interest of the lawyer and the client. For a owner of a vacant investment property monthly fees with a cap on total months or a bonus for a quick resolution can modify a monthly fee arrangement to make it work for all parties. With monthly fees the fee is always the same so there are no surprises for the client. Monthly fees make foreclosure defense affordable for many consumers who lack sufficient cash for a one time up front fee, and can’t afford high hourly fees.


A hybrid fee arrangement combines two or more of the above models. For instance a firm might change hourly with a monthly cap on the total fee. Some firms also include a reverse contingency where the firm receives a bonus in the event the firm is able to obtain a reduction of the loan balance or interest rate. Under a reverse contingency the firm is paid a portion of the savings the client receives as a result of the representation.

UPDATE (May 2012):  This blog post has now been read over 2,000 times!  When evaluating the cost of a specific law firm homeowners should not ignore a firm's results and choose a lawyer on price alone.  A cheap foreclosure defense lawyer who does a bad job will most likely costs more than an expensive foreclosure lawyer who does a good job.  When our firm firm wins foreclosure cases we file motions against the bank to recover attorney's fees for the benefit of our clients.  Firms that win cases and recover fees from the the bank can substantially decrease a client's legal expenses.  For more information on recovering fees from banks see our blog post The Robin Hood Law Firm

UPDATE 2 (July 2013):  New Post about BAIT & SWITCH pricing strategies being used by some law firms.  To read the post click here.

UPDATE 3 (January 2015):  This post has now been read over 5,000 times!  In 2014 we set a firm and Brevard County record for attorney fee recoveries from banks, and retuned tens of thousands of dollars to our clients by winning their foreclosure cases, recovering attorney's fees from the banks that lost the cases, and returning money from such recoveries to our clients.

Consumers with questions about the cost for Shuster & Saben to defend a foreclosure case in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, or Brevard County can e-mail