The words “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW” appear on the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. At some level, that statement speaks to the idea—more moral than legal—that any person should be able to present a legally-solid case in court. Does everyone have that opportunity? Unfortunately, no. Perhaps the biggest cause of unequal access to courts is money: wealthier people can afford attorneys, who are often a crucial gateway to making a convincing, successful argument to a judge.


The DePangher Law Practice commits itself to minimizing that reality. If you can otherwise win in court, your income should not be the sole roadblock to success. To help achieve this goal, the DePangher Law Practice factors your income into its fee schedule. That way, everyone has a better chance of accessing the court system.


To learn your fee, you just need to consider two numbers: household size and income. These determine your relationship to the U.S. poverty line, which DePangher Law Practice uses to set your fee. Read the following chart and note your percentage bracket. (Also be aware that if you have low income but high assets—such as substantial savings and investments—a different set of rules may apply to you.)


Percentage of Poverty Bracket





Annual Income for Household of 1





Annual Income for Household of 2





Annual Income for Household of 3





Annual Income for Household of 4





Annual Income for Household of 5





Annual Income for Household of 6





Annual Income for Household of 7





Annual Income for Household of 8






Once you identify your percentage bracket, you can look below to determine your fees. All clients receive a free 30-minute telephone consultation with an attorney. This conversation may be sufficient either to resolve the issue or identify other resources that you could use without an attorney.


If you do still require legal services and DePangher Law Practice offers to accept you as a client, at that point you must pay a “retainer,” an upfront amount to cover initial fees. You must provide the entire retainer before DePangher Law Practice will offer you any further assistance. Once you do, an attorney will represent you at a specific hourly rate. If your case concludes and your retainer covers more than that time, DePangher Law Practice will refund you the remaining money. If the time cost exceeds the retainer, you must pay the additional amounts through later billings. The DePangher Law Practice will not do work beyond your retainer’s amount without obtaining your permission first.


Percentage of Poverty Bracket





Free Initial 30-Minute Phone Consultation










Fee per Hour





Client Responsible for Major Costs






Be aware too that you must also pay the major costs of your case. The most common of these are a Circuit Court’s own initial fees (often $167.50) if you start a lawsuit and the expenses of “service,” the process in which you formally deliver legal papers to another person.


Can you take steps to minimize the number of hours an attorney must work on your case? Yes, you certainly can. Sometimes when a dispute arises between people, they can resolve some problems directly. This limits the time an attorney must spend communicating between the parties. Other times, you can draft a document yourself and ask your attorney to review it rather than need the attorney to write out everything from scratch.


If you have questions about these fee rules, feel free to contact DePangher Law Practice directly.