When you’re facing legal troubles, the last thing on your mind is probably how much a lawyer will cost you. But as your stress levels begin to creep up, that’s exactly the kind of information you need to know. Lawyers aren’t cheap; they command high hourly rates because of the extensive education and licensing requirements they must meet in order to practice law. Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce those costs. But what does it cost to hire a lawyer from a firm like Keystone Law Firm, and how can you lower those expenses? Read on for everything you need to know about lawyers and their fees.
What Does a Lawyer Cost?
According to ContractCounsel’s marketplace data, the average cost of hiring a lawyer in any legal field is between 200-350 per hour. If your legal matter is more complex, you can expect to spend closer to 400-500 per hour. Of course, these are just averages; some lawyers charge much more and some charge less. You can use websites like LegalZoom to get a better idea of how much it will cost to hire a lawyer for your specific situation. Additionally, most lawyers offer free initial consultations, so it’s always worth your time to speak with a few different lawyers before making a decision.
Typical Lawyer Cost Structures
There are four common ways that lawyers charge for their services: hourly, flat fee, retainer, and contingency.
Hourly: This is the most common billing method. You will be charged for every hour that your lawyer works on your case, up to a maximum amount. Lawyers generally track their time in six-minute increments, meaning you will be billed in six-minute intervals even if your lawyer only works for two minutes.
Flat Fee: A flat fee is a set amount that you will pay for a specific service, such as drafting a will or filing a lawsuit. Flat fees are often used for simple legal matters that can be completed in a relatively short amount of time.
Retainer: A retainer is a deposit that you pay upfront. Your lawyer will then bill you against the retainer as work is completed. Once the retainer is depleted, you will either need to replenish it or switch to another billing method.
Contingency: Contingency fees are only used in certain types of cases, such as personal injury or workers’ compensation. With a contingency fee, your lawyer will only get paid if you win your case; if you lose, you won’t owe anything. Contingency fees are usually a percentage of the total amount recovered.
What are the Factors That Affect the Cost of a Lawyer?
In addition to the billing method, there are several other factors that can affect how much you’ll spend on a lawyer.
The type of law: Some areas of law are more complex than others. For example, tax law is notoriously complicated, so you can expect to pay more for a tax lawyer than you would for a divorce lawyer.
The lawyer’s experience: More experienced lawyers generally charge more than less experienced lawyers. That being said, if you’re facing legal issues in the workplace, the best employment lawyer New York City may also be able to resolve your issue more quickly, which can save you money in the long run.
The location: Lawyers in big cities tend to charge more than lawyers in smaller towns. This is because the cost of living is generally higher in big cities, so lawyers must charge more to cover their own expenses.
Why You Should Base Your Decision Based on Cost
You wouldn’t choose your doctor based on how much they charge, so you shouldn’t choose your lawyer for that reason either. Instead, base your decision on the lawyer’s experience, qualifications, and how comfortable you feel working with them. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your lawyer and sharing sensitive information with them, so it’s important that you find someone you can trust.
What Are Some Ways to Save Money on Legal Fees?
If you’re facing a major legal problem, you’ll want to find ways to save money on legal fees. You can do this by:
Reducing the amount of work your lawyer needs to do – The less work, a lawyer, has to do, the less money you’ll have to pay. Be as thorough as possible when answering discovery questions, drafting legal documents, and taking part in legal proceedings.
Negotiating a lower rate – Law firms often offer a variety of rates depending on the case. You may be able to get a lower rate if your case is straightforward.
Getting a lawyer to agree to accept payment terms – Some lawyers will offer payment plans or let you pay a retainer upfront.
Hiring a lawyer on a contingency basis – Some lawyers will work on a contingency basis. This means they only get paid if you win.Selecting an affordable law firm – Law firms often specialize in a particular type of legal work. You can often find lower rates at smaller law firms than at large, metropolitan ones.