How do lawyers compute their fees?
(1) Amount of time the lawyer spends doing work for you. Most lawyers who charge by the hour have a minimum billing time of 1/10 an hour. You will be charged for all the time the lawyer actually spends working on your case, including research, writing, and phone calls made to discuss your legal matter. Many lawyers will charge a separate hourly rate for work performed by the lawyer’s staff.
(2) Ability, experience and reputation are natural considerations in setting a fee. You should expect to pay a higher hourly rate for a lawyer whose expertise in a specific area of the law is in demand.
(3) The results achieved, in some circumstances, may be an element in deciding your fee. The 'contingent fee' arrangement is an example. This is an arrangement often used in personal injury or collection cases where the lawyer receives no fee unless he or she recovers money for the client. If money is recovered, then the lawyer receives a percentage of the recovery agreed upon at the time the lawyer begins representing the client. The percentage is based on a number of factors including the type of case and the stage at which the case is resolved. The client must, however, be responsible for court costs, such as filing fees and depositions, and must reimburse the lawyer for any out of pocket expenses incurred by the lawyer, such as for expert witnesses or document production. Contingent fee arrangements are not permitted in domestic relations cases and criminal matters.
When should you discuss fees?
Who is responsible for the fee?
When do you pay?
How can you minimize the amount of your legal fees?
Take any papers relating to the case to the first interview;
Be as brief as possible in all interviews with the lawyer;
Do not allow emotion to color the facts given; be as accurate as you can;
Make a full and honest disclosure to the lawyer of all the facts...good or bad. The lawyer will keep all facts in strictest confidence; and
Avoid unnecessary telephone calls to the lawyer.
You should consider the financial advantages or disadvantages of a proposed legal action by discussing it with the lawyer. For example, would the court costs and legal fees be more than the amount of a bad debt you would like to recover?
Get legal advice before signing documents or taking legal action, and then follow the advice of the lawyer.
A significant part of looking after your file involves disbursements. A disbursement is an expense incurred by your lawyer for anything from office supplies and expenses (photocopying, printing costs, telephone calls) to travel expenses incurred in the process of handling your case. A common disbursement is also court filing fees that are paid on your behalf in order to bring or defend an action or to move the case forward in some way.
Last modified: April 25, 2011 10:24 PM