When you hire a lawyer to represent you, it is important to have a clear written fee agreement. This agreement should spell out the cost of the legal representation, other expenses and cost of work to be done. This article will discuss aspects that should be found in a lawyer’s fee agreement – hourly fees.
Most of the disputes that exist between lawyers and clients are over money. Specifically, it is over how much money the client owes the lawyer. In order to avoid these problems states require that there be written fee agreements between lawyer and client. Whether it is a requirement or not in your state you should get a written record. This should show what you have agreed to pay the lawyer to clarify the agreement.
Elements that must be present in a fee agreement include the following:
- Litigation costs
- Other issues
Fees are generally structured in three ways; the client either pays:
- By the hour
- A flat fee
- A percentage of whatever they win in a lawsuit or settlement to the lawyer (contingency fees)
These are the most common form of payment for lawyers. Hourly rates often range from between $100 to $300 or even more. If the lawyer firm uses legal assistants (paralegals) the rate for their time is less than that of a lawyer. This is because paralegals are trained non-lawyers. The hourly rate for a paralegal may be about $50 to $75 per hour. If your fee agreement includes an hourly rate, it should set out the following: the
- hourly rate of the lawyer and any other person in the office who might work on the case
- frequency of you billing
- details to be included in your bill
- length of time you have to pay the bill
Where a retainer fee or deposit is required in advance, the amount should be included in the agreement.