How Much Does it Cost To Hire an Attorney?

By  //  November 28, 2019

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If there is one thing that most people dread on so many levels, it is having to deal with lawyers. For starters, it means that you need legal help, and that implies trouble and a lot of nuisance, even if you’re not the party being sued.

If there is one thing that most people dread on so many levels, it is having to deal with lawyers. For starters, it means that you need legal help, and that implies trouble and a lot of nuisance, even if you’re not the party being sued.

In other words, nobody likes having to go through legal proceedings, no matter what the cause is.

Unfortunately, at one point or another, you will have to deal with lawyers, and they will probably be your only lifeline.

Perhaps the biggest reason why people fear hiring attorneys is the costs associated, but there’s one thing you need to know. Not all cases are alike, and you hiring an attorney won’t necessarily cost you an arm and a leg. 

Understanding how lawyers charge their clients 

At the end of the day, a lawyer is a professional that provides you with a very important service, and they naturally expect to get paid.

How much will depend on the kind of case and several other factors –– it can be anything from $50 to $1000 per hour! This is why you have to understand how lawyers charge their clients in the first place. 

How much will depend on the kind of case and several other factors –– it can be anything from $50 to $1000 per hour! This is why you have to understand how lawyers charge their clients in the first place.

Hourly rates

This is the most commonly used system that most lawyers use, and they basically charge their clients for every hour spent working on the case.

This system naturally requires thorough documentation of the time your attorneys spent on reviewing evidence, preparing paperwork, litigating, investigating, and any other duties associated with a particular case.

You will agree upon the hourly rates with them upfront, and they should remain fixed throughout the duration of the entire case.

While that sounds daunting, think of a car accident case that you had because a company’s truck driver was negligent. You stand to make a lot of money out of such a case, and all the lawyer’s fees would definitely be worth it then.

As for the hourly rate itself, it depends on several factors like the lawyer’s education, the location, firm, experience, and so on. 

Contingent fees

In this billing system, the lawyer’s fees depend on a certain outcome happening. It is usually if the case is won or a settlement is reached. When that happens, you pay your lawyer, and if it doesn’t happen, you won’t pay anything.

This usually happens with malpractice or personal injury lawsuits; when you hire a lawyer for a car accident where the other party was negligent, they most likely won’t charge you for anything.

They would get paid if they won the case for you, getting a percentage of the settlement. If the case is lost, they don’t charge you any money. 

Flat rates

This approach is usually used for simpler cases that don’t have many complications and are expected to not go through serious litigation.

The attorney basically charges you a fixed amount of money beforehand in exchange for a specific service they will do. For example, you want to hire them to create a will and a living trust. The attorney will charge you for say $1,000 for the entire process.

Retainer fees

A retainer fee is sort of a down payment you give your attorneys upfront. As they work on your case, any costs incurred will be deducted from the initial amount that you paid. You should also expect regular invoices with the deductions and any unexpected expenses.

You should know that dropping a case after paying the retainer means you won’t get your money back because it is non-refundable most of the time. 

Success fee

This arrangement is a mishmash between the hourly rate and contingency fee. What happens is your lawyer charges you a reduced hourly rate, less than what they usually charge, and if they won the lawsuit, you agree to pay them an added bonus.

For example, if you’re suing your company for wrongful termination, your attorney agrees on an hourly fee of $150 instead of their usual $300.

And in the event that they win, they’d get 5% or something from the settlement. This is definitely a better option for clients because it ensures that they won’t pay as much money if the case is lost. 

How much does it cost to hire an attorney? There isn’t a definite answer to that question, because as mentioned earlier, a lot of factors play into it, and it will differ from one firm to the other.

What you need to do is understand the different billing systems, and try to settle on one that suits you. At the end of the day, don’t think of it as money wasted, but rather spent to get you monetary compensation or a get out of jail card, quite literally. 

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