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Fees and Hiring a Lawyer 

Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

This article discusses the different types of fees lawyers charge and what to consider when hiring a lawyer. 

Here you will find answers to common questions about the several types of payment arrangements that you can enter into with a lawyer and the steps to hiring one. 

 

 

What is a contingency Fee? 

A contingency fee is a form of payment that your lawyer receives only when your case reaches a settlement. With a contingency fee you do not have to pay anything up front for the legal services provided by your lawyer. Your lawyer’s payment is contingent upon you having received some amount of compensation. Your lawyer’s payment will be an agreed percentage amount of your settlement.  

What is a typical contingency fee amount?

Contingency fee arrangements are most common in personal injury cases and the amount is a percentage of the settlement in the case. A typical percentage is anywhere between 33.33% and 40%. Usually a lawyer will charge a fee of 33.33% pre-suit (before trial) and 40% if the case goes into litigation. Make sure you know what amount your lawyer is charging. 

Can my lawyer charge me a flat fee?

Yes. Your lawyer can charge you a flat fee for a particular type of service. Typically, a lawyer will charge a flat fee on services that are routine and straightforward. Lawyers usually offer these flat fee rates for simple wills, traffic tickets, and uncontested divorces.

Can my lawyer charge me an hourly fee?

Yes. Your lawyer can charge you an hourly fee for the work they do on your case. An hourly fee rate can vary and is usually based on the lawyer's experience and training. 

What is a retainer?

A retainer is a fee paid up front by the client. A lawyer can use this fee as a down payment on expenses and fees. It is important to review your account from time to time to understand how your money is being spent. 

Are there other ways that my lawyer can charge fees?

Yes. There are lawyers that are willing to work with clients. If you find a lawyer that you are interested in hiring, it is important to speak to them and negotiate a fee agreement. Some lawyers are flexible and will agree to an installment plan charging monthly fees. Make sure you understand the fee agreement before you enter a contract with a lawyer. 

How do I select a lawyer?

You should try to consult with more than one lawyer and select a lawyer that is best for you. Consider the following factors when choosing a lawyer: availability, personality, location, and experience handling cases like yours.  

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