Attorney Fees: What Clients Need to Know

by | Jan 18, 2020 | Business Law, Contract Law, Probate Real Estate, Real Estate Law

The other day I received an email from somebody inquiring into the hourly attorney fee that is charged. They asked if we have student attorneys that we can provide? They don’t want to pay too much, and I understand that people are sensitive to attorney fees. But there are no such things as student attorneys. There are experienced attorneys and inexperienced attorneys. They then asked how much for an inexperienced attorney? I had to laugh because generally, people don’t hire a doctor or other professional based on inexperience. Most people want an experienced professional on their side.

Flat Fees

Regarding hiring an attorney, here are three fee structures to engage with. One is a flat fee. Attorney flat fees are usually for dealing with matters that are not complex. They’re usually more routine matters, such as preparing a simple will or a real estate closing. Things that don’t require a lot of research and time. That’s where a flat fee would come into play.

Contingency Fees

Attorneys also charge on a contingency basis. Now, with contingency fees, they are usually dealing with personal injury attorneys. This would not be a real estate transaction. And most often, you’re not going to be dealing with a matter in a criminal case using contingency fees. The contingency is basically that the attorney only gets paid if you win.

Hourly Rate

The last type of fee is the hourly rate and that’s usually the most contentious. People are looking for the least expensive hourly rate. First, the hourly rate is based on the amount of time that an attorney will dedicate towards a case. So it’s charged by the hour. A portion of the work that’s done will require a portion of the hourly rate. The more experienced and successful the attorney is, the higher the hourly rate. Also, you can negotiate the hourly rate with your attorney.

Location Rate

Fees are also based on location. Some areas have a lower hourly rate than, let’s say, a metropolitan area. A more urban area will have a more expensive hourly rate than, let’s say, a rural area. So those are things to look at. But don’t discount experience. You can have a very experienced attorney who’s charging you a bit more on an hourly basis. However, they’re going to be able to get that transaction done probably faster than one who’doesn’t practice in the area. So if you think you’re paying for a lower hourly rate, well, it may be that that some attorneys take longer to resolve the matter.

Attorney Expenses

There are various expenses such as filing expenses and court expenses that can’t be negotiated. So you should talk to your attorney about expenses related to your file.


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