Pricing Legal Services
Have you ever hesitated to call a lawyer because you thought it would be too expensive? Often the perceived cost of hiring an attorney acts as a barrier to prevent people from fully protecting all their legal rights. In the long run people that don't hire an attorney may end up costing themselves more money - only an attorney can help properly protect your rights and finances. What many don't realize is there are several tips that can help you get the best price for a quality lawyer.
1. Don't be afraid to call around and ask
Not all attorneys like giving price estimates over the phone. This is because they don't want to give you a price only later to find out that your legal action is a great deal more complicated than you described. When you call an attorney always try to be as open as possible in describing your situation. If they don't bring it up cost during your phone consultation, just ask. If they're not willing the give you a price, you should be able to ask the attorney what is their hourly billing rate. This will give you a way to compare different attorneys.
2. Don't be afraid to go with a newer attorney
Attorney pricing can be influenced by a variety of factors. Level of experience is directly related to price. A newer attorney, just a few years out of law school will likely charge less, than the veteran of 20 years. People often wonder, "If I go with the new attorney, will they be successful?" If you are looking at an uncontested divorce or basic will, you may be pleasantly surprised by the competency and the pricing you get from a newer attorney. These attorneys will likely work hard on your behalf as they are trying to prove themselves to their colleagues and their clients. Obviously, if you're facing a murder charge or messy divorce you may want a more experienced attorney, but on more routine matters a newer attorney is likely to give you the greatest bang for your buck.
3. Call the solo attorney
As you shop around for an attorney, you should understand that big law firms charge big bucks. These big firms have big bills to pay. A huge ornately decorated office building with receptionists and paralegals cost a great deal of money. Going with a solo attorney can save you a great deal of money - they simply don't have the overhead of the big firms and can afford to charge lower rates. Picking out a solo attorney is fairly simple. As your browsing attorney listings look for those that have just one name - although those sometimes can also be big firms under a recognized name. Not only does the solo attorney have lower overhead they may provide you with a more personal experience and are likely just as experienced as those attorneys at the big law firms.
4. Ask about payment plans
Only a handful of lawyers offer payment plans, but it never hurts to ask. Typically in a payment plan, you make smaller payments over the course of a month or two. When your total is paid, the attorney will swing into action. With payment plans, your payments may be nonrefundable and the attorney usually will not start on your case until payment is made in full. Make sure to pay attention to the terms of the contract.
5. If it is a personal injury, auto accident, malpractice claim you shouldn't have to pay much up front
In these sort of cases, an attorney will often take their fee from the settlement and not require any payment upfront. Generally this fee is 33 1/3% of the total settlement. However, if you are shopping around for a newer or solo attorney, you may be asked to pay a small amount to cover things like filing fees, records fee and expert affidavits. This may be particularly true if your case will have a small settlement.
6. Ask about limited representation agreements for less complicated legal issues
A limited representation agreement serves to limit what the attorney is expected to do. By narrowing the focus of the representation, the attorney can charge a reduced fee. These types of agreements are most effective in matters like an uncontested divorce or those situations in which a letter from an attorney on your behalf might quickly resolve a matter.
7. Geography can matter
If an attorney practices in a downtown area of a major city, you can expect to pay higher fees than someone who practices out in the suburbs. Most attorneys have a geographic area that they are willing to travel to for clients. An attorney out in the suburbs or across town maybe able to give you a better deal.