If you’re in need of a lawyer, you’ll want to make sure you have an idea of how much does it cost to hire a lawyer before you start working with one. You should know that every law firm observes different rates and fees. Keep reading for a complete guide on how much lawyers can cost.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Lawyer?
The answer to this question can vary from $50 to more than $1000 an hour. While this may seem expensive, if you’re working through a legal issue, you’ll need a lawyer to get the best outcome for your case. Think of a lawyer’s rate as insurance that you’ll get the justice and or settlement that you deserve.
Before you hire a lawyer, make sure you talk to them about their rate. Some lawyers will simply have flat fee legal services, while others will bill you hourly, or have retainer or contingency fees.
The bottom line is lawyer’s services are not cheap, no matter what legal situation you are dealing with. Let’s break down the various lawyer rates and fees you could face.
Different Types Of Lawyer Fees & Rates
Before you can pinpoint how much a lawyer will cost, you should be aware of the various lawyer rates and fees that exist.
Let’s break it down.
A lawyer could charge you either an hourly or fixed fee for the first time you meet and decide if you want to work together. So before you even schedule your first meeting or consultation with a lawyer, you’ll want to be clear if they will charge you for their initial meeting.
If your lawyer charges a contingency fee this is a fee that is based on a percentage of the amount that is awarded in the case. This means if you lose the case, the lawyer won’t get a fee, but you will still have to pay some expenses. The percentages of contingency fees can vary, but a one-third fee is usually common.
There are some lawyers that will do a sliding scale based on how far the case progressed before it’s settled. Sometimes courts will set a limit on how much of a contingency fee a lawyer can charge you.
A flat fee is when a lawyer charges you simply a total and specific fee for their services. Usually, this fee is offered if your case is relatively routine or simple. For example, flat fee cases are common with wills or a divorce that is uncontested.
This is when a lawyer charges you for every hour or portion of an hour that he or she spends working on your case. This means if your lawyer’s fee is $100 an hour and they spend five hours on your case, that lawyer would cost you $500.
This would be the most typical arrangement for a lawyer fee. There are some lawyers who will charge you additional fees for more work like research or cour appearances.
Also, keep in mind there are lawyers that work on bigger firms who have various fee scales. Scales where more senior members will charger higher fees than their paralegals or younger associates.
When a lawyer refers you to another lawyer he or she might ask you for a part of the total fee that you will end up paying. These fees could be under a state code of professional responsibility unless certain criteria are met.
Like other fees, the total referral fee you must agree on and it must be reasonable. Your state or local bar association could have additional information about if this fee is needed.
This is when the lawyer gets paid a set fee that might be based on their hourly rate. Think of a retainer fee as a down payment where all of your future costs are billed. This fee will usually be placed in a special account and then the cost of services is deducted from that account.
Most retainer fees are not refundable unless the fee is determined to be unreasonable by the court. These fees also mean that the lawyer is on call for handling any legal issues that arise while you are working together.
This type of arrangement can mean various things. So you’ll want to make sure you work with a lawyer that can explain their retainer fee to you in detail.
In some cases, there is a statutory fee that a court or a statue may set up and approve for you to pay. This fee could happen for bankruptcy, probate or other similar proceedings.
Expenses Are Separate
While attorney fees cover the cost of hiring an attorney, these fees tend to be separate from the expenses that are connected to your case. Expenses like travel, the cost of filing legal documents, expert witness fees, and or the cost of copying or recording a document.
A percentage fee is based on the value of the issue you hire your lawyer to address or the value at stake in the case. This fee is commonly used in estate or probate cases, but you might see a percentage fee in other cases. Cases such as when an attorney acts as your manager or agent.
“Pro Bono” means “for the public good” in Latin. These lawyers are not a specific type of attorney, rather it’s a term that describes a lawyer that works for a client without making that client pay a fee. A lot of private attorneys will offer some of their time yearly for pro bono cases, while other firms cannot afford to offer this service.
Hire A Lawyer Today
Now that you know how much does it cost to hire a lawyer, find the lawyer that is right for you. Every law firm has different ways they could bill you, so make sure you know your lawyer’s rate before you start working together. For more law resources, be sure to check out our blog.