Attorney Fees: What Clients Need To Know

I’m kind of chuckling because the other day I received an email from somebody who had inquired into the hourly attorney fee that is charged and asked, do we have any student attorneys that we can provide to her? Cause she doesn’t want to pay too much for an attorney, which I understand that, people are sensitive to attorney fees. But I had responded back, you know, we don’t have student attorneys. There are no such things as a student attorneys. The only thing that there is are experienced attorneys and inexperienced attorneys and her reply was how much for an inexperienced attorney, and I kind of had to laugh because you don’t go and hire a doctor or other professional, based on inexperience. Most people want an experienced professional on their side.

When it comes to hiring an attorney, you can pay three ways. There are three fee structures that attorneys engage with. One is a flat fee and flat fee Attorney fees are usually dealing with, not the most complex matters. They’re usually more routine matters, such as preparing for a simple will or a real estate closing, things that don’t require a lot of complexity or a lot of research and time, that’s where a flat fee would would come into play.

Attorneys also charge a contingency basis on a contingency basis. Now with contingency fees, they usually are dealing with a personal injury attorneys, it is not going to be in a real estate transaction. And most often you’re not going to be dealing with a matter in a criminal case using contingency. In fact, I think it’s illegal to do contingent fee basis in a criminal matter. So contingency is basically that the attorney only gets paid if you win.

The last type of fee that people pay would be the hourly rate. And that’s usually the most contentious. People are looking for the least expensive hourly rate. Well, first of all, hourly rate is the amount of time it’s based on the amount of time that an attorney will dedicate towards a case. So it’s charged by the hour. So a portion of the work that’s done, will require then a portion of the hourly rate. So attorneys who are charging by the hour, the more expensive, the hourly rate usually is commensurate with the experience of the attorney. So the more experienced attorney, amount of years the amount of time, more success, that is the type of correlation then that you’re going to have with a higher hourly rate. With less experienced attorneys, you will pay a lower hourly fee.

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 more expensive hourly rate than let’s say, the country. So those are things to look at, but don’t discount experience because you can have a very experienced attorney who’s charging you perhaps a little bit more on an hourly basis. However, they’re going to be able to get that transaction or that matter done probably faster than somebody who’s got less experience and who doesn’t, practice in the area who has to find their way, for the first or second time. So if you’re paying, if you think you’re paying for a lower hourly rate, well, it may be that that inexperienced attorney takes longer to resolve the matter.

Finally, before you hire an attorney and you’re talking about a fee structure, remember those points. And also you can always negotiate the hourly rate with your attorney. There are things such as expenses, filing expenses, court expenses that can’t be negotiated. So you should also talk to your attorney about those expenses related to your file. But most attorneys want to be competitive and want to work with, good cases and good people.

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