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The fine difference between “fixed fee” and “flat fee”

One small contribution this blog aspires to has to do with definitions of terms (See my posts of March 22, 2006 on “general counsel” versus “chief legal officer,” Aug. 27, 2005 on “matrix reporting,” March 23, 2006 on “associate general counsel” versus “assistant general counsel,” and Aug. 14, 2005 on “technology.”). As the self-appointed Samuel Johnson of law department management (well, indulge my fantasy), I hereby decree the difference between “fixed fee” and “flat fee.”

A fixed fee covers more than one matter. For example, a law firm agrees to a fixed fee to cover all EEOC charges against a company for a period of time. What differs from a fixed fee is a flat fee.

A flat fee (also known as a “flat rate”) covers the cost for a single matter or task. Examples might be a flat fee of $4,500 to prepare a simple patent application or a flat fee for a law firm to prepare an early case assessment within 60 days of the suit being filed.

Whew, Boswell, a sticky wicket.