Attorneys are some of the highest paid workers around given they are good at what they do, and own a private practice. Unfortunately for you and me there is no set rhyme or reason to how they decide to charge their clients. Most will follow certain guidelines for the cost of their time and what they think its worth. This can depend on the type of law they are practicing and what is the opportunity cost of their time from one case to another. There is also a general range for hourly rates, however you want to avoid this when you do not know how many hours could be put into your case.
Also most attorneys will allow their clients to enter into a payment option as they don’t want to turn away cases and potential earnings. They know that not everyone will have $3,000-say even $20,000 to put down on a case. It is up to us to do our due diligence in finding the right attorney for the right price.
The first thing that we the public can take advantage of are free consultations. Every attorney does this as a means of collecting business. You can schedule a free consultation and get great legal advice but don’t forget they are the expert and will probably be holding out on how they plan to get it done, and what’s involved on a detailed level. Free consults are still a good way to compare attorney fees and services to determine the best route for your case.
Although you will always see the lead attorneys name on advertisements they usually are doing little of the leg work on your case. Law firms operate with entire legal teams, digging up information, going to court hearings, and making the phone calls investigating the information. Attorney fees take all of this into account. Larger firms will have higher overhead for their staff and their properties. The reputation they have built will justify their higher fees and the pristine office they present to their clients. Typical hourly rates for attorneys can fall anywhere from $75 to $325 per hour.
This range takes into account all of the paralegals on the case other staff as well as the lead lawyer representing the law firm. Again it is bad to judge a firm on their hourly rate when you have no idea how much time and effort will need to be put into your case. Most attorneys will have a set fee for a specific case type, $2,500 for a DUI, or maybe $6,000 for a criminal type case. This makes more sense in shopping for an attorney and being able to compare flat rates they are willing to offer for their services.
Many cases such as those involving automobile accidents, attorneys will offer their services for a fee negotiated as a percentage of the amount one in the case. For medical claims resulting from auto accidents many attorneys will charge a rate around 33% of the potential earnings from the case. The documents you will sign will establish that the firm will not be able to collect any dollar amount from the client for their services.
In a contingency case the attorney will only collect the percentage if they win the case and win the client money. In the medical claims case from the other parties insurance company, and if taken further from the other person at fault in the accident.
Attorney fees can be a real headache as there is no set standard to how they charge. The reputation of the law firm and the type of case will determine what they feel is fair to charge their client. The clients own record will also determine what the attorney will be able to charge. If the client is a repeating offender and the attorney will have more trouble winning the case, this becomes a larger risk for them to win the case and they will charge you dearly for it.