My current hourly billing rate is $500.00. I charge for filing fees and the cost of the record on appeal at my out-of-pocket cost. Otherwise, I do not charge for costs and expenses.
I generally have charged 20 hours of time for the preparation of an opinion letter. At my current hourly rate, the cost of an opinion letter is a flat fee of $10,000.00 (although that fee could be higher in an exceptionally large case). I never have worked less than 20 hours on an opinion letter.
There are four stages in an appeal for an appellant: (1) the preliminary stage that requires the filing of notices and forms; (2) the preparation of Appellant’s Opening Brief; (3) the preparation of Appellant’s Reply Brief; and (4) the presentation of an oral argument before the Court of Appeal. Based upon my extensive experience, I can say that I always have needed at least 80 hours to complete the four stages of an appeal for an appellant. Thus, the minimum cost of an appeal for an appellant, over and above the cost of the opinion letter, is $40,000.00. However, my opinion letter would specify the maximum amount of fees that I would charge to handle an appeal for an appellant.
There usually are only two stages in an appeal for a respondent: (1) the preparation of Respondent’s Brief; and (2) the presentation of an oral argument before the Court of Appeal. Based upon my experience, I can say that I always have needed at least 60 hours to complete the two stages of an appeal for a respondent. Thus, the minimum cost of an appeal for a respondent is $30,000.00. The minimum cost would be higher if the respondent needed to pursue a cross-appeal.
A maximum budget specified in an opinion letter would cover only the fees for services necessary to prosecute the appeal, such as the filing of notices and forms, the preparation of the briefs, and the presentation of the oral argument. I would charge additional fees for any additional services that I have been asked to perform, such as filing papers to obtain a stay pending appeal or drafting a supplemental brief required by the appellate court. Also, I would charge additional fees for services rendered after the Court of Appeal issued its decision, such as services in connection with a petition for rehearing in the Court of Appeal or a petition for review in the California Supreme Court.