It is automatically assumed that lawyers charging higher rates should provide better legal services, however this is not always the case. How much you pay for your lawyer can vary according to the severity of the legal issue, its importance, and the urgency of its resolution. You can even make an agreement with your lawyer, called ‘no win, no pay’, in which you only pay your lawyer if your case has a successful result.
Before hiring a lawyer, it is therefore important to understand how they wish to be paid – whether they have an hourly rate or an initial flat fee, along with a general estimate of how much the lawyer’s services will cost and any additional charges that may arise, such as filing fees or barrister’s fees.
Legal costs can add up. If you need legal assistance or advice, contact LawPath on our quick-quotes service to obtain a fixed-priced quote from an experienced lawyer.
How Lawyers Charge their Clients
Your lawyer will charge different types of legal fees according to different legal services.
There are two categories:
- Professional costs, which provide for the lawyer’s time, expertise and effort; and
- Disbursements, which provide for external services, such as doctor’s reports, lodging court documents or barrister’s fees.
Lawyers can also charge at a different rate and in different ways. Your costs may be determined by the following:
An hourly rate
The most common cost arrangement where the lawyer charges an agreed-upon rate according to the hours spent working on a legal matter up until its resolution. The hourly rate may depend on the location of the lawyer’s practice, their seniority and their expertise in the matter. Experienced lawyers in smaller or rural towns can typically charge from $100 to 200 per hour while those in major urban areas can charge from $200 to $400 per hour.
A fixed price
For legal matters that are clear and straightforward, such as wills, divorce agreements and bankruptcy filings. Where there is a flat fee, make sure that you know what the costs do and do not cover. Additional expenses such as filing fees may not be included. At LawPath you can obtain a free fixed quote from an expert lawyer with our quick-quotes service.
Other alternatives may include:
- An hourly rate with a ceiling, or maximum fee;
- An amount negotiated according to the circumstances; or
- No win, no pay. This means that you do not have to pay your lawyer unless there is a successful outcome.
How Can I Know How Much my Lawyer is Charging Me?
To keep track of your finances, talk to your lawyer about any anticipated fees, such as filing fees or delivery charges. This will avoid the appearance of any nasty surprises along the way.
Also, keep it transparent. Ask your lawyer for a quote for costs for his or her legal services, and get this fee agreement in writing. You can also ask:
- If the first meeting is free or discounted; and
- How much and when you will have to pay.
You may also ask for a detailed bill of your legal services, usually within 30 days.
If You Need a Lawyer…
How much you pay for your lawyer ultimately depends on the legal issue you are facing. LawPath has made it easier with the fixed-quote service, which allows you to obtain three fixed-price quotes from our network of expert lawyers.
Do you need a lawyer? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from one our largest online network of expert lawyers or any other legal needs.