Hourly rates the most common type of fee where the lawyer will charge you for each hour or every portion of the hour that the lawyer works on your case. Some lawyers charge a higher hourly fee for court appearances than for legal research and case preparation.

Should I Choose a Lawyer with a Lower Hourly Rate?

If you agree to pay a fee based on an hourly rate, you need to take into consideration how much experience your lawyer has. A less experienced lawyer will usually require more time to research your case but charges a lower hourly rate. A large law firm usually has different fee scales depending on the experience of their lawyers. Urban lawyers usually charge more than rural and the same with large firms vs. small firms.

How Specific Should I be about Asking what is Included in the Rate?

You should ask what is included in the hourly rate. Will other staff time, such as law clerks, paralegals, and secretaries working on your case be charged to you? In addition to the hourly rate you will usually be billed costs.

Should I Ask about Billing Method for my Hourly Rate?

Yes, the best way to ensure clear communication between you and your lawyer is to get your agreement in writing specifying how things are billed. For example, you should discuss if your attorney will bill you at 6-minute intervals or at 15-minute intervals for work. Remember all fees are negotiable; there is no such thing as a fixed rate. Your lawyer needs you as much as you need your lawyer.

Should the Fee Agreement Be in writing?

Yes, regardless of the fee you agree upon with your attorney, always obtain proof of the agreement and its specifics in writing. Get in writing what the additional costs are and their price before you hire your attorney.  If you feel that your attorney has breached his agreement you may be able to sue for attorney malpractice.