This is a topic that seems to be on the minds of people seeking legal counsel or services more than competence, scholarship, experience, drive, philosophy, effectiveness, grit, and it is nowhere nearly as important than those other factors.
It is often said that "you get what you pay for," and that only loosely applies to the purchase of legal services. That is, some of the best lawyers I have ever seen are public defenders; some of the worst are high-priced self-promoters [including some "celebrity lawyers" who charge scads of money for guilty pleas!].
I charge more than many, less than some, while my service is second to none. When we go outside of the agreed-upon price for my services, the fee is billed at $500/hour, but I have set-fees for virtually all of my work, which generally costs clients much less than that hourly fee. The $500/hour fee is imposed for a brief, one-time effort, or in case of a breach in our set fee agreement by the client [which will result in my calculating what is due for all of the time spent in lieu of the set fee, credited against what has been paid]. A breach might result in much more being owed than the agreed-upon fee, because that is the essence of a breach of contract. I have never had anyone who wanted to break our agreement, so this default billing is largely theoretical.
For felonies, if I get the case at the beginning [and I always should; I don't like to clear up other attorneys' messes, and there can be a profusion of such], I break the fee into a preliminary hearing stage amount, and then a post-preliminary hearing amount [if the case were to go past the preliminary hearing stage], if I choose to stay on the case past the prelim. stage. None of those fees cover appellate efforts [writs, appeals]; those have to be contracted for separately. My fees are a true retainer, which keeps me available for handling the clients' issues, to the exclusion of others who might want to hire me for that chunk of availability, as well as also covering appearances and work and research and writing.
Fees to me do not cover investigation costs, or costs associated with my distant travel and housing [if the rare even arises where the case is transferred to a distant court], extra discovery costs, various fees; all of that must be paid by the client.
I do most of my heavy lifting at the prelim. stage, which means it might be continued several times until things are in the proper posture for maximizing the benefits to the client.
For misdemeanors, I give a true retainer set fee that covers as much as is necessary for the clients' interests, up to and through trial [if such be necessary], and it keeps that chunk of availability exclusively assigned to each client.
I generally get all of my fees up front [before each of the dual stages for felonies, before anything on misdemeanors] so we never have to have uncomfortable discussions later about fees: I should concentrate exclusively on my clients' issues and not partially on what is owed to me during the evolution of the case. So, I don't want payment plans or anything other than full fee up front, unless the total fee exceeds $100,000, and then we might discuss the matter.
You do not always get what you pay for when retaining counsel [I have seen some attorneys charge far more than I and then do nothing but plead their client guilty!]; with me, you will get at least what you paid for, and generally more, because my scholarship, grit, and effectiveness is unsurpassed. And there is nothing ultimately more costly than a conviction that could have been avoided by having retained the right lawyer.