When seeking legal counsel the thought of high attorney fees might imbalance you. But exactly how much does an attorney cost?
The costs associated with hiring an attorney are not uniform across all states, law firms, and type of legal help. There are many different things that are taken into account when computing these charges.
However, when you are looking for a figure, most rural or small town lawyers will charge fees ranging from $100 to $500 per hour.
Big city law firms will usually charge between $350 and $1000 per hour for their lawyers depending on the complexity of the case. The charges may rise steeply if the case involves high stakes and has complex ramifications.
Things to Consider When Looking At Attorney Fees
There are various factors that determine what kind of costs you will pay for an attorney. These include:
Type of Legal Help
A family attorney representing you in a divorce case will not charge you the same as an attorney representing you in a criminal case.
Similarly, a criminal lawyer will charge a different fee when representing you in a DUI case compared to a murder case. The kind of legal counsel you require bears a high significance on the fees and charges.
1. Retainer – Like all other professionals, lawyers have different ways of charging their clients for work done.
For instance, the lawyer might charge you a retainer which you will then be billed monthly. The retainer may also be a one-off payment which will be used to pay off the lawyer’s fees and expenses for the case she is handling for you.
2. Hourly Rates – Nevertheless, the most commonly used billing method is the hourly rate. You and your lawyer will negotiate the hourly fee and the lawyer will charge you for each hour s/he or his/her staff spend on your case.
The thing about per hour billings is that your lawyer may charge on hourly increments, 30-minute increments, 15-minute increments, or even 6-minute increments. This may not seem significant at first glance but really adds up to a huge difference over time.
For instance, if the lawyer is charging $100 per hour and makes a phone call on your behalf that lasts 5 minutes, the one on hourly increments will bill you for $100 while the one on 6-minute increments will charge you $10.
3. Flat Rates – There are many lawyers offering flat fees for certain services. A common example is representation for a DUI.
Without qualified representation, you may get handed a huge fine, a suspension of your license, or even community service and jail time.
However, at a one-off standard fee of between $200 and $800, a lawyer will get you off with a more reasonable sentence depending on your records.
4. Contingency Fees – When you are suing for damages, the best billing method to go for is by use of contingent fees. This is typically a “no win, no fee” arrangement.
The big advantage of contingent fees over all other kinds of fees is that since the lawyer’s fee is based on result, s/he will be more motivated to secure a big win for you.
Another advantage is that you can easily hire a lawyer you would normally be unable to afford if the stakes are high enough.
For example, if you have a strong case and are likely to win a multi-billion dollar lawsuit, even the biggest law firms that would normally be out of your pocket range will be ready to offer you representation.