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Is Hiring a Lawyer Going to Be Expensive?
It depends on several factors. Generally, there may be different kinds of fees available when hiring a lawyer. Below are some common types of fee arrangements:
- Retainer fee and statutory fee
- Consultation fee and referral fee
- Flat fee
- Hourly rate
- Contingency fee
Is the Fee All I Have to Pay When I Hire a Lawyer?
No. The client is also expected to pay "costs" on top of the fee that is charged by the lawyer. Costs typically include the price of copies, process service, deposition transcripts, but may also include travel expenses, court time, and many other associated expenses that went into the case.
Should I Have a Fee Agreement with My Lawyer?
Yes, in fact it may be required by the lawyer under the rules of the state bar. At the first meeting with the client, the lawyer should discuss the fee and the costs, and should prepare the arrangement in writing.The type of arrangements made in the beginning of a case will have a significant impact on how much the service will ultimately cost. The fee agreement should include:
- The services the lawyer will perform
- The type of fee structure
- If the client will pay a retainer fee
- An estimate of total fees and costs
- Specification of which costs are billed, and the rate of those costs
- How often the client should expect to be billed
- If your lawyer is working on a contingency basis, this agreement should specify how often a client will be billed for costs, and when they will receive a payment if they prevail
What Are the Common Fees in Different Areas?
In different areas, lawyers usually use a certain kind of fee. Below are some examples of common areas and fees normally charged for such a case:
- Injury or Accident cases are usually billed by a contingency fee.
- Civil and Family law cases are usually billed on an hourly basis, which can vary greatly depending on the case and the lawyer. It is more common for divorces to be handled on a flat fee basis. In any event, expect to pay a retainer fee.
- Criminal cases are usually paid by a flat fee up front.
- Simple or routine matters are usually charged by a flat fee. This is for example, writing a will, a real estate closing or an uncontested divorce or getting a power of attorney.
How Do I Know If I Am Being Charged Too Much?
There is no one direct answer to "how much should a lawyer cost?" However, there are several helpful ways of generalizing how much a lawyer can cost. For example, understanding all the average cost nationwide of a child custody case, filing for bankruptcy, or fighting a DUI helps put the legal fees into perspective. The best practice is to consult with more than one lawyer until you find a fit that it right for you.
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Last Modified: 12-02-2015 03:37 PM PST
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