Will Hiring an Attorney Break the Bank?



It shouldn’t come as a surprise that legal services are generally costlier than not. When shopping for the right attorney, it’s best to know not only how much they charge, but also the breakdown of the exact fees involved. Ask as many questions about cost as you can; how well an attorney responds to these inquiries often displays how seriously they take their client service. It all boils down to how much you’re willing to spend to get a court to rule in your favor. So before you go dropping your entire life savings, read over our quick and easy attorney expert guide (and maybe consider starting a legal fund).

Let’s get familiar with some ways attorneys may charge:

  • Hourly
  • Flat Fee
  • Retainer
  • Contingency Fee

What do these mean? Let’s take a look at the breakdown of each.

Hourly: The most common arrangement are hourly rates. This means the attorney is paid for each and every hour that is spent working on your case. Pretty self-explanatory. But keep in mind that the hourly rate depends on the location the office is in, the attorney’s experience, and operating expenses. For example, attorneys in smaller rural areas may charge somewhere around $100-$200 an hour for their service, while larger metropolitan area attorneys may charge $200-$400.

Flat Fee: Flat fee rates occur when a lawyer knows a case is going to be, to put it plainly, short, sweet, and to the point. For example, uncontested divorces, wills, and bankruptcy filings all fall under simple and precise cases where flat fee rates would apply. Just make sure you check into what the flat rate will and will not cover; filing fees may be charged separately.

Retainer: Think of a retainer as a legal finance holding tank for your money, which is deducted by the attorney as the cost of services are carried out. In laymen’s terms, it’s almost like a prepayment. Periodic billing statements are available over the course of the case, which you should view regularly to stay on top of what fees you’re actually paying out.

Contingency Fee: This type of fee is designed in such a way that the client pays nothing up-front, but the attorney receives a percentage (typically one-third) of the settlement at the closure of the case. Contingency fees are most common in automobile accident lawsuits, debt collection cases, medical malpractice claims, and other personal injury cases.

While hiring an attorney may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. As long as you do your research thoroughly before beginning the process, you’ll be golden. Also, remember that legal funding companies are always available to help out when you just can’t seem to stretch that dollar any further. It may be worth it to check into getting assistance so you have the tools to win your case.

Written by: Kristy Kravitsky