Before you hire an attorney, find out how much the lawyer fees will be. Knowing what you’ll pay can help you plan and budget for the work to be done. Attorney fees and payment arrangements vary from firm to firm, so there’s no set standard.
Ask them to put their fee schedule in writing and find out how they want to be paid. To give you an idea of what to expect, here’s the types of payment arrangements many of the law firms we work with make with their clients.
Law firms with set hourly rates charge you by the hour for work done on your case. The lawyer fees may be provided as two different hourly rates: one for work done in the office and another rate for courtroom time. Ask the attorney if the hourly rate includes everything, such as research, court fees and copying. If not, request a breakdown of fees charged beyond the hourly rate. Before you agree to work with the attorney, ask for an estimate on how many hours he estimates your case will take.
Some lawyer fees are done on a contingency basis. An attorney who agrees to work on a contingency basis does so without being paid until your case is resolved. Personal injury cases are commonly handled on contingency. Contingency fees can be negotiated, so find out whether she feels the case will be quickly settled or not. A smaller contingency fee may be negotiated if the case requires less work and is settled out of court compared to a lengthy case that goes to trial.
You and your attorney will agree on a percentage as the contingency fee before any work is started. Also ask about other fees you will need to pay for, such as court fees, copying documents and expert witnesses.
Some attorneys charge by the project, resulting in a flat fee. For instance, they may charge a certain amount to write a will while charging a different flat fee to prepare divorce documents. Ask the attorney if the flat fee covers everything. If not, request a breakdown of fees for any additional costs, such as filing fees and copying, etc.
Your attorney may ask you to make a payment up front before work starts on your case. This is known as a retainer, and it’s similar to a deposit. The attorney will then send a billing statement each month with details on how your retainer is being spent.