By Hampton & Pigott
Posted on 7-8-2022
One of the biggest misunderstandings between clients and attorneys is money. Getting legal help is never cheap, but there are attorneys on all ends of the budget spectrum. Here are some of the basics you should know about when it comes to attorney fees. Having a rough idea of what to look for and expect before you reach out for legal advice can save you and your lawyer from miscommunication.
One of the things that makes it difficult to know how much attorney services will cost you is the fact that there are no standard fees. Based on your legal issue, the going rate for similar work, and more, you and your attorney will work out a fee agreement specific to your case.
The next thing you should know is that price is not always the best indicator of the quality of service you will get. A premium price tag may sound like a guarantee of quality services, but this is not always the case. That lawyer may simply by pricing their services based on the affluent area that their office is located in. On the other hand, sometimes cheap lawyers are cheap for a reason. It could be because they are fresh out of school and lack the skills and reputation they need, and so they offer a discounted rate. At the end of the day, you may end up paying more for a cheaper lawyer because they require more time in order to get the work done.
If an attorney ever proposes the right to collect their fees via trust, deed or mortgage, leave their office. In most states, these types of agreements are not legal.
Written fee agreements, retainer agreements, representation agreements, whatever you want to refer to them as, they are good to have. When your attorney presents you with yours, here are some terms that you should know the meaning of.
Retainer: A retainer is a deposit that you pay in advance. Your contract should clearly state what this amount is.
Hourly Fee: Your agreement should also state what the hourly rate is for anyone who works on your case, how often you will be billed, how long you have to pay the balance, penalties for late payments, and how to dispute a charge.
Contingency Fee: Cases that have contingency fees are ones where the lawyer takes a percentage of the client’s winnings. Your agreement should clearly state what that percentage is.
Cost of Suit: And finally, your agreement should include a breakdown of litigation costs. Court fees, private investigators, stenographers, process servers and more may be required for your case. How these professionals and fees are paid should be reflected in your agreement.
Knowing what to expect when you reach out to a lawyer can save you a world of confusion. Knowing how to pick an empathetic and skillful lawyer is also important. Our team at Hampton & Pigott care about the things you care about. Reach out to us and you will be met with a listening ear, reasonable rates, and success.