Any attorney can quote an hourly rate, but the hourly rate does not answer the question. What most clients want to know is whether the legal fees are going to break the budget, if not also the bank.

Some legal services, such as title examinations and simple wills, often come with a flat fee. The more open-ended the matter is, e.g., complex litigation, the harder it is to set a flat fee.

Sometimes I will estimate the total cost and divide it into parts payable at different phases of the matter. No plan should be too rigid lest either party commit to go beyond his resources. The more facts of the matter the attorney knows, the more possible it is to estimate the total costs, which are what the client worries about. This is why it is important for you to meet with the attorney so that you and the attorney have clear expectations of what is possible under the circumstances.