Attorneys are prohibited by state bar associations from charging excessive or unconscionable legal fees. However, what is excessive? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer. However, the American Bar Association (ABA) notes several factors to consider when weighing the reasonableness of a legal fee.
Some of these factors seem obvious:
- The complexity and novelty of the issue
- The experience and ability of the attorney
- The “going rate” – i.e. what do other lawyers in the same area charge for similar legal issues?
Other factors the ABA considers might not seem quite as obvious:
- Is your lawyer able to work with other clients while working with you, or will your lawyer be working exclusively on your issue?
- Are there any strict time limits involved?
- Is there a prior working relationship between you and your lawyer?
Finally, the easiest way to determine to determine whether a legal fee is excessive is with simple “hindsight” vision.
- How happy are you with the results in light of the amount you paid?
- This does not necessarily mean whether you won your case, but was the legal work performed competently and efficiently?
After considering these issues, if you still believe the legal fee was excessive, you should contact your lawyer to raise your concerns, as it is possible that you may be able to come to an agreement.
Should I Seek Outside Legal Assistance?
If you believe that your legal fees were excessive, and you and your attorney were unable to come to an agreement, you may want to contact an experienced malpractice attorney. They will provide you with more information on recovering the disputed fee. Further information about working with an attorney can be found at the Top 20 Legal Tips from LegalMatch.