What You Need to Know About Paying Your Lawyer’s Fees
He1,116,967. According to the American Bar Association, that’s how many lawyers were actively practicing law in the United States last year. That’s roughly one lawyer for every 300 people in the country.
That’s a lot of lawyers filing laws suits, drawing up documents, representing people in court, and providing legal advice. Chances are that nearly every in the country has used a lawyer at some point and if they haven’t, they will.
Schoolteachers earn a salary. Production workers are paid by the hour. Salespeople earn a commission. But how do lawyers get paid? How are lawyers fees structured?
When you hire an attorney, you are agreeing to pay for their advice, knowledge, and experience and you should expect to pay for the time they spend on your behalf.
Payment can take several different forms but three types of fee arrangement are most common. Check it out as we take a look at the way most attorney fees and costs are paid.
The simplest form of payment is a fixed fee. That’s a flat fee many lawyers charge for routine items. Real estate title searches, wills, deeds, and basic contracts are frequently a fixed fee service.
Some lawyers charge fixed fees for traffic offenses, minor criminal matters, and simple bankruptcy filings. Other services may also be provided for a fixed fee, but these are the most common.
Apart from fixed fee services or personal injury cases (see below), lawyers charge an hourly rate for almost every other service.
The amount of the hourly fee varies widely since it’s influenced by many factors. How much experience does your lawyer have? What’s their reputation? Where you live also plays a role. Lawyers in small rural communities charge less. If you live in a big city, expect to pay more.
Most lawyers working on an hourly rate will ask you to pay a retainer before they go to work. They’ll be billing their hours against the retainer so it’s a good idea to ask for regular statements itemizing the charges against the retainer fee.
In cases where you expect to receive an award or settlement after settlement, lawyers charge a contingency fee and take their payment out of the proceeds.
Personal injury cases, social security claims, civil rights claims, and worker’s compensation cases are the most common for a contingency arrangement.
Your lawyer will only take the case if they believe that you have a reasonable chance to prevail. If you lose, they lose. If you win, their fees are paid as a percentage of the award or settlement you receive.
Remember that win or lose, you’ll likely have to pay certain items including filing fees, deposition costs, and witness fees.
Lawyers Fees: Now You Know
When you hire a lawyer, 99.9% of the time you’ll be paying your lawyers fees in one of the three ways we’ve outlined. Whether it’s a fixed fee, hourly rate, or contingency fee, don’t hesitate to ask questions and negotiate. It’s your money!
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