What is An Attorney at Law?
An attorney at law, also called a lawyer or attorney, is a professional who is licensed to practice law in a specific area, or jurisdiction. The phrase, practice law, in general, means to represent clients in a court of law or to provide them with legal advice.
An attorney performs numerous different tasks as well as provides many different types of services in the course of their everyday work. Some lawyers will practice in many different areas of law while others may specialize in only one or two.
Lawyers can work in groups, such as in a law firm, with partners, or by themselves in solo practices. Attorneys are the only professionals who are permitted to practice law.
What are the Factors to Consider for Choosing the Right Attorney?
When choosing an attorney, there are many factors an individual should consider. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that choosing an attorney is a personal decision.
Only the client can determine for themselves the best fit for their needs. Other factors to consider include:
- How much does the attorney cost? Can the individual afford their legal services?;
- How can the individual pay the attorney? Hourly? A one-time fee? A percentage of the settlement?;
- Does the lawyer have a license to practice law in the state where the claim is filed?;
- Does the attorney have experience handling cases similar to the present legal issue?; and
- Has the attorney had success in similar cases?.
What are the Different Types of Legal Fees?
Hiring an attorney may seem confusing and overwhelming to individuals who do not have any experience in the legal field. One important question for a potential client to ask is how much the attorney will change to handle their case.
There are several different ways attorneys typically bill their clients, including:
- Hourly fees: With hourly fees, an attorney charges based on the amount of hours of work they put into a case. Hourly fees are the most common type of fees. They are used in both civil and criminal cases;
- The total amount of hours will vary greatly depending on the nature of the case;
- Flat fees: A flat fee is an overall charge paid up front for the entirety of the legal representation. It is usually employed when the services are more predictable, such as in a criminal case. The lawyer should explain exactly which expenses and services are included in the flat fee;
- Retainer fees: A retainer fee is an advanced payment, similar to a down payment, when the attorney is charging an hourly rate. The client deposits their money into the lawyer’s trust account, and the lawyer will deduct funds as the services are completed. Any remaining retainer fees are generally refundable to the client; and
- Statutory fees: Statutory fees are fixed fees that are set by law or statute. Certain types of legal work requires a court to approve the fee.
What Determines How Much a Lawyer Costs?
Although the services of an attorney are typically not free, there is a common misconception that most people cannot afford one. In reality, legal professionals bill based on several factors, including the value of their services, the needs of their client, and many other factors.
It is difficult enough to determine how to choose the right attorney. Cost is one major factor that clients need to keep in mind.
Do Legal Fees Vary Depending on the Area of Law?
Legal fees may vary depending on the area of law the case involves. The fees may be different for attorneys in the following categories:
- Bankruptcy Lawyer Fees;
- Business Lawyer Fees;
- Child Custody Lawyer Fees;
- Criminal Defense Lawyer Fees;
- Divorce Lawyer Fees;
- DUI Lawyer Fees;
- Personal Injury Lawyer Fees;
- Estate Lawyer Fees; and
- Immigration Lawyer Fees.
What Causes the Costs of Legal Representation to Vary?
There are several factors that cause the cost of legal representation to vary. An individual should expect to pay more for the services of a veteran attorney in a large city than a newly licensed attorney in a rural area.
In addition to these factors, there are other factors that may cause the costs to vary, including:
- Type of representation: The more complex the legal issue, the more likely it is to cost more for an attorney’s services. This is also true for cases that appear to be routine or simple matters that have been made complicated by aggravating factors or circumstances;
- Services performed: If an attorney is performing multiple services, the overall cost of representation will also likely rise. Some attorneys may offer to bundle their services at a fixed cost, which keeps the overall expense of representation comparatively low; and
- Fee arrangement: The overall cost of representation will vary depending on whether the lawyer:
- is billing on a contingency fee plus an hourly basis;
- requires a flat fee;
- is retained and advises on a need by need basis; or
- has been hired as in-house counsel.
What are the Common Fees Types in Different Areas of Law?
Attorneys will typically charge certain types of fees in certain areas of law. Common areas and fees normally charged for cases include:
- Injury or accident cases: Typically billed by a contingency fee;
- Civil and family law cases: Typically 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. Clients should expect to pay a retainer fee;
- Criminal cases: Typically paid by a flat fee up front; and
- Routine cases: Typically paid with a flat fee. Examples of routine cases include:
- writing a will;
- a real estate closing;
- an uncontested divorce; or
- getting a power of attorney.
Should Legal Fees be Discussed before I Hire a Lawyer?
Yes, a potential client should discuss fees prior to hiring an attorney. There may be additional costs that arise during a case.
It is important for an individual to understand all of the different costs they will have to pay in order to prevent a disagreement from arising with the lawyer. If an individual wants to keep the costs under control, they can advise their attorney that they need to approve costs over a certain amount in advance.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
If you or a loved one has any issues, questions, or concerns related to a legal issue, it may be helpful to consult with a lawyer in your area. LegalMatch provides an attorney matching service that takes much of the work out of your hands and matches you with attorneys in your area who are licensed and ready to begin working with you.
You can present your issue to LegalMatch attorneys in around fifteen minutes. You will receive responses from pre-screened lawyers that include their fees, experience, and education.
Many LegalMatch attorneys provide free consultations, which allows you to discuss your issue with the attorney for free prior to hiring them. You can even have free consultations with multiple attorneys to determine who is the best fit for your needs and budget.
With this simple and free process, you have nothing to lose presenting your legal question to attorneys who are waiting to assist you at LegalMatch.