Hiring a lawyer can be expensive. The costs themselves can be affected by a multitude of factors ranging from the state you live in, the type of lawsuit you are filing, and the complexity of your case.
Some lawyers like TruLaw offer a free consultation and follow the “no win, no fee” promise, where they will only charge you if they win your case. Although this safety blanket allows you to hire a lawyer and not worry about losing. However, you still need to know how much you should pay when you win.
On average, across every legal field in the United States of America, a lawyer will charge around $250 and $350 per hour of work.
Calculating the cost requires you to look at 4 types of costs you can expect. When you consider a lawyer they should detail these costs to you. Be sure to note the prices before you sign any agreements.
Most lawyers will charge you an hourly rate. This means that for every hour they work on your case, they will charge you for their services. Some lawyers will work in hourly segments, others will track every minute to create a complete timescale of work.
The upside to hourly-rated lawyers is you will be paying for what you get. Your lawyer has the time to dedicate to your work. Thus, they won’t rush through and instead will give your case the focus it needs.
The downside is that you cannot confirm the overall costs at the end. Even if you know how many days a lawyer has worked on the case, they could work late into the night. This makes hourly-rated lawyers hard to estimate when it comes to costs.
Flat fee rates are charges which do not change. Your attorney will give you an upfront cost to work on your case. This allows both them and you to confirm pricing without worry. For them, they will receive a secure payment of work, while you can budget and plan for the costs.
Normally flat fee rates are given to people who require structure. For example, if you are hiring a lawyer for a long-term project you would need a contract rather than an hourly fee to budget your business.
The downside to flat fee rates is that you might be paying for the time that the attorney didn’t need. However, that's the price you pay for the structure and financial peace of mind.
Retainers are the bridge between flat fees and hourly fees. You make a deposit (which is the retainer) and then are charged an hourly fee for the service. The hourly fee is deducted by the retainer, allowing you to pay for the work being done without having to guess the total costs.
If the lawyer requires more time than originally expected, they may ask for an additional deposit/retainer. If they require less time, then you are given a percentage of your deposit back.
Mostly found in personal injury claims, contingency fees are when a lawyer gains a percentage of a monetary settlement.
If the courts decide you are due a settlement of $100,000, and your lawyers have a contingency fee of 30%, then they will receive $30,000 leaving you with $70,000. This fee type is often used in “no win, no fee” cases too, as the lawyer will expect a percentage on winning.
The upside to this fee is that you don’t have to use any of your own money for payment. Instead, you give up part of the settlement. The downside is that you might be given a small amount in court and require that money to pay off medical debts.
Hourly fees, flat fees, and retainer fees consider a lot of factors for their price.
The biggest factors are; the type of legal work, the amount of work, and the level of experience of the lawyer. Some legal practices are more difficult than others. For example, intellectual property law requires more detail and is more complex than bankruptcy law.
Ideally, you want a lawyer with 15 years of experience or more, as their experience is valuable. However, lawyers with less experience will be cheaper.
Your lawyers should be upfront about the type of charges they will ask of you and how to pay. However, if you prefer a different payment type, ask them if you can come to an agreement.