Lawyers can be expensive. We all know that. But you can take a few steps to ensure that you avoid any surprises when the bill arrives in the mail (or email). Talk to your lawyer about fees and expenses, and make sure that you understand all the information on fees and costs that your lawyer gives before you sign a fee agreement or retainer agreement. It’s best to ask for it in writing before legal work starts
Three Common Types Of Billing
(1) Hourly Basis - constructed on a set fee that you pay the lawyer per hour they dedicate towards your legal work;
(2) Flat fee – in these cases, the attorney knows exactly what they are doing and how much time it will take, they offer the client a flat fee that will cover all of the expenses of that transaction;
(3) Contingency Fees – in these situation, the injured party doesn’t pay for the legal work until after they get a settlement, however, the attorney is entitled to 1/3 to 40% of the settlement as payment for the work the attorney completed.
Are you Being Overcharged?
Clients frequently wonder if their lawyer is overcharging them. I make it a point to charge my clients fairly, but not all attorneys are as scrupulous. Here are so broad guidelines to help you figure out if a fee is reasonable:
What about Retainers?
What does it mean when a lawyer is “on retainer” or when you pay a lawyer a “retainer fee"?
On Retainer – This is when a client pays regularly pays a set account of money to ensure that the attorney of your choice is available for any legal services you may require. Most often, large companies or clients that regularly require frequent litigation, will have a retainer to make sure their attorney or firm is available for their work and will answer questions quickly and on demand. Retainers are not typically cheap and may not be the right option for every client.
Retainer Fee – Lawyers often ask a client to pay some money in advance before any legal work is done. This works the same way as a down payment. You pay some of the money up front that is applied toward the total bill, and then you pay the remainder of the bill on a monthly basis or when the legal work is concluded.
This may not answer all the questions you have about legal billing, but it will help you feel more comfortable having a discussion about legal fees with an attorney.
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Author: Aimee Haynes
I motivate, I blog, I listen, I give advice, I help, I create, I work with others, I stand my ground when needed, and I am always open to new ideas. In addition to the qualities that define me most, I'm also a Corporate Law attorney working with entrepreneurs, creatives, and small businesses to help them achieve success.