Costs are separate from the attorneys’ fees. Costs include anything from retaining experts, cost of file materials, legal research, hiring outside vendors such as copy services, presentation services, having visual aids drawn up, service of process, filing fees and a whole host of other costs that are not included with the attorneys’ fees. These costs are generally “pass-through” costs, in that this is what it costs the attorney to pay for a certain service that is necessary to fully develop the case, and the amount is simply reimbursed back to the attorney when the case is over. The attorney does not make a profit on any of this portion of the costs, and in fact, is prohibited from doing so by the Florida Bar rules.
The reason why costs are separate from attorneys’ fees is that the cost in every case can vary widely. In some cases, the cost may only be $500 to $1,500, and other cases could be hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is very difficult at the outset of any case for an attorney to know how much cost will be incurred by the law firm or attorney until the case is either settled or tried. Thus, the Florida Bar has separated out costs from the attorneys’ fees as a way not to discourage an attorney from not fully funding a case simply because they determine that the outcome or fees generated may be less than the cost incurred. Therefore, if they were combined, the attorney would either not be paid for the time they spent on the case, or may actually lose money, even though they obtained a good recovery. This would prohibit many people from having their day in court.