What should I pay for my attorney? Why do some lawyers charge more than others? - Fairfax Virginia
There are three main types of legal fees: hourly, flat, and contingency. In hourly fee cases, attorneys set their fees based on their level of experience or expertise in the field, the complexity of the case, and the amount of work they believe a certain case will take. Hourly fees generally range from $100 to $500 per hour depending on the attorney and the type of case. Attorneys charging at the upper end of this range are often well known in the particular field of law, have 30+ years of experience, and/or have special skills or background that they bring to the case. In an hourly fee case attorneys typically require an up front retainer that is then billed down at the attorney’s hourly rate. Once the retainer is exhausted, the client is expected to replenish the retainer for continued services. If the case is concluded without the retainer being exhausted, the remaining funds are returned to the client. Many lawyers charge by the tenth of the hour.
In flat fee cases the attorney estimates the amount of time he or she anticipates spending on a case.
Fixed or Flat fee - This is usually charged for routine, common legal matters such as wills and trusts or uncontested divorces. If you agree to a fixed-fee service, make sure you find out if there are extra costs for additional services such as clerical assistance or copying.
Contingency fee - This is commonly charged in personal injury, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation and other cases involving a lawsuit for money damages. A contingent fee means that you will pay the lawyer a certain percentage of the money you receive if you win the case or if you settle out of court. If you lose, the lawyer does not receive a contingency fee. However, win or lose, you likely will be required to pay costs of preparing and trying the case, which can be quite high. Sometimes the lawyer may pay those additional costs out of your portion of any settlement or award. Therefore, you need to get an estimate of what the lawyer thinks the court costs and other expenses may be and establish whether the lawyer’s share is paid before or after the other expenses are deducted. Make sure all these obligations are set out in a written fee agreement.