Hiring a lawyer can seem very confusing to those who do not have any experience with the legal field. One question that many people forget to ask is how attorneys charge. There are many different ways that lawyers usually bill their clients:
A contingency fee or contingent fee means that your lawyer will not charge a specific amount. Instead, your lawyer will earn a percentage of the judgment if any is awarded. The word contingent means "depending upon", which means that the amount your lawyer takes is dependent upon the outcome of the lawsuit.
Most contingent fees are in the amount of one-third of the judgment or settlement amount. Thus, if you awarded a sum of $90,000, your lawyer will be entitled to one third of the amount or $30,000. This percentage can be negotiated between you and your attorney depending on the type of claim. In some types of cases such as divorce cases, contingent fees are prohibited.
Contingent fee arrangements are most commonly employed in personal injury and employment cases, but they can also be found in real estate, probate, and business litigation matters, among others.
While the services of a lawyer are usually not free, there is a common misconception that they are unaffordable for most people. The reality is, legal professionals bill not only based on the value of their services, but by what their client’s needs are, and a myriad of other factors. It's already hard to figure out how to choose the right attorney for you, but cost is another factor that clients need to keep in mind.
Lawyer fees differ depending upon the area of law. For example, fees may be different for the following types of lawyers:
One should expect to pay more for a veteran lawyer in a big city than a newly minted attorney in a rural area. In addition to the location and expertise of an attorney, there are a handful of other factors that cause costs to vary, such as:
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:
Yes, all costs should be discussed before hiring an lawyer. The above list is an example of costs and there may be other costs during the suit. Make sure you understand all the different costs you have to pay to prevent disagreements with your lawyer when the bill comes. If you want to keep costs under control you can also tell your lawyer that you have to approve costs over a certain amount in advance.
If you have a strong case with a likelihood of a lucrative outcome you’ll have a stronger bargaining position; however the fee you’ll pay in the end will depend on several factors. Below are the factors to take into consideration when determining if the fee you pay is reasonable and fair:
If you think your lawyer is charging you too much and you can’t reach an agreement, many state and local bar associations offer fee arbitration programs. They offer an out-of court forum to settle disputes that is usually cheaper than going to court. Both parties need to agree to see an arbitration lawyer or consent to mediation. In certain states arbitration is required for most fee disputes: Alaska, California, Maine, New Jersey, South Carolina and Wyoming.
When hiring a lawyer, it is important to discuss what fees the lawyer charges during your initial consultation. Although many people find it uncomfortable to discuss fees, it is important that there is no confusion between you and your attorney on this topic.
Last Modified: 10-10-2017 10:07 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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