So it's a complex question with a complex answer but let me get straight to the point. Criminal investigations are usually matters that take a long time to resolve. The government is taking their time in building an investigation, there's usually a lot of complicated circumstances around the facts, there may be multiple witnesses, there may be multiple years.
We may have unfiled tax returns, we may have fraudulently filed tax returns or at the very least tax returns that are not correct, so when looking at cost you have to consider the fact that this is over a generally extended period of time and with that said, there's a lot of work that goes into these cases. Some of the work happens at the beginning in order to mitigate the damages, some of it involves preparing for a special agent interview, preparing for a proffer session with the US attorney, we're preparing for a number of different things that get submitted during the course of these investigations. And so a variety of things go into that generally. We can leverage our our lower billing rate staff to help offset the cost in terms of organizing documents and preparing them for submissions and things like that, but when it comes to a criminal matter, you want the best and the brightest in the firm handling the matter and so that's usually me and some combination of my senior team in order to help. So our billing rates for senior attorneys are anywhere between $350 and $525 an hour so I want you to take that into perspective. There's a lot of it that's driven by documents. There's a lot of it that's driven by the auditor, the agent and there's a lot that's driven by the facts and so it's very hard to give an estimate. With that said when we take a criminal matter on, we're usually looking at about a $25,000 and that obviously varies. If it's a witness investigation, we're not going to need anywhere near that much of a retainer. If it's a larger and more complex criminal matter I mean we've taken retainers that are a hundred thousand dollars or more in Criminal Investigations so it just kind of depends. When we quote a retainer we're looking at the volume of work that's involved and we're looking to try and distribute that as efficiently as possible.
So there's a lot of moving pieces that go into this and a lot of the times what happens with a criminal investigation, particularly on the tax side, is it doesn't make sense for us to do the math or the bookkeeping or things like that, so we'll bring in a bookkeeper. We'll bring in a CPA under what we call Covell agreement which protects them under the envelope of our attorney-client privilege and we use that to offset costs but I just want to give you an idea that when we work on a criminal manner, we're looking at this from a marathon-- perspective and not a sprint.
So there's a lot of care that's taken at my level and among our senior attorneys to really mitigate resources and to protect things because we want to make sure we're giving the best representation possible. We take our job as counsel very seriously. We don't want to be a financial burden on anybody but we want to make sure that the work gets done because it's in the client's best interest to do the work and to do it right and so there's an investment on that. It's a significant investment and that investment usually spans over multiple multiple months but that's the best guideposts I can give you for how much a matter generally costs in the firm from a criminal side of things. Now if you want specificity with a little bit more facts about the situation you're facing, with an understanding of the parties that are involved, the tax returns that are involved, and the documents that are involved, I can give you a much more pigeon-holed kind of quote on that by understanding a little bit more. We've had a variety of criminal matters over the years. We've had some that are not quite as costly, we've had some that are very costly and we've had most of them that are in the middle which is why I feel pretty confident in giving you that range but if I know more facts, I can definitely give you a better guideline of where you stand and then how much your matter is going to cost. In helping you plan that out we can make sure that you're utilizing the resources most effectively and I think that's ultimately best for any criminal tax matter and it's best for you, the client.