Most people end up having to endure unwanted circumstances because of fear that hiring an attorney will cost them more. This type of concern, although very common, can be easily addressed if you have knowledge of attorney fees.
An estimate of 1% of federal civil cases goes to trial these days, compared to 11.5% back in 1962. One of the factors that could play a part in this is the fear of costs.
Aside from the actual fees, there is also a fee arrangement that you can take advantage of to help you during your difficult situation.
Here are six common attorney fees and fee arrangements that you should know before hiring a lawyer:
1. Statutory Fees
These kinds of fees are not typically applied in most types of cases. Probate or bankruptcy cases usually have statutory fees. These fees are usually determined by the court. It can also be set depending on the laws that apply specifically to your case. Once approved, you’re responsible for paying these fees.
2. Consultation Fee
Similar to a doctor’s consultation fee, a lawyer’s consultation fee is an hourly or fixed payment that you have to make when first consulting. This helps detracts people who are not really in need of lawyers’ services and are just asking for sake of inquiry.
In most cases, you’ll need to pay a fixed rate upfront before they provide any legal consultation because every case is different.
3. Contingency Fees
Typically applied to cases involving a claim of money due to some damages, contingency fees are awarded to the lawyer if he’s able to win the case. This is a usual fee for money settlements due to personal injuries or as employment compensation.
Lawyers usually take one-third of the total settlement paid to the client. Most cases like the purchase of a business, divorce, and child custody are free from incurring contingency fees.
4. Flat Fees
Some lawyers charge an all-inclusive flat fee rate. This type of fee is for cases that are simple to do or is routinely done and easy to close.
Cases that can be closed without the need for strenuous hearings, those that only require some standardized forms make use of the flat fee. Uncontested divorces and will preparations can usually be paid with a flat fee rate.
However, even what may seem to be an uncontested divorce could encounter some unforeseen events. Your attorney may still charge you for additional fees on top of the flat fee for all court appearances.
5. Hourly Rate
This is the most common of all attorney fees. Most lawyers are very specific to the use of their time, taking into factor a fraction of an hour they’re working on your case.
The rates differ by the attorney’s background, specialty, and location. Be sure to check the terms of your written agreement for the actual hourly rate of your lawyer.
6. Referral Fee
When your lawyer recommends, or refer you to another lawyer, you might be charged with a referral fee. This fee is usually a small portion of the total fee that you’re paying for the case.
However, this type of fee is actually prohibited in most types of cases. Unless specific criteria are met, a lawyer can’t just add this to the cost. It’s best to check with your local state for additional information on when a referral fee is actually allowed.
7. Retainer Fee
Rumor has it that lawyers who charge retainer fees are better than those who don’t. This is the most common misconception about this type of fee.
A retainer fee can be compared to a “down payment” for the lawyer’s services. This attorney fee is some sort of pool where all future costs on the case will be billed. It is non-refundable.
A retainer fee does not necessarily translate to the quality of service that a lawyer will give to you, but it can help ensure that you get legal protection any time you need it.
Don’t Feel Overwhelmed with Attorney Fees
This list of fees will help you be more aware of the types of attorney fee that you have to be prepared for when hiring a lawyer. In case you find yourself being charged with unreasonable fees, you can always consult with experts like Judge Donald Black to help you determine if there has been any malpractice.