As you progress through life’s various stages, it is more than likely you are going to need to hire an attorney. You might make it several years without needing one, but eventually, you will have to contact one for one reason or another.
Maybe someone is suing you, or you are bringing a lawsuit against someone. Perhaps you need to make out your will, and you need an attorney’s help with that. You might consult a business lawyer if you are thinking of launching a startup. Alternatively, you could be getting a divorce?
While there are nearly infinite things for which you might need a lawyer, there is one universality: almost all lawyers cost money unless you find one who will work pro bono. Because of this, you might wonder how much an attorney costs if you have never hired one before. Here are a few lawyer cost facts about which you should know:
You Can Pay Some Lawyers On A Contingency Basis
One of the first and most critical things about lawyers that you should know is that you can sometimes pay them on a contingency basis. Contingency means that if the lawyer does not win the lawsuit that you are bringing against an individual or entity, you do not have to pay them anything.
Contingency lawyers often charge 30 or 40% of any money that you recover. That seems like a lot, but it is better than having to pay your attorney whether you win your court case or not.
Remember, though, you can only hire a contingency-based attorney in certain specific circumstances. For instance, if you need a lawyer for something other than a personal injury lawsuit, like if you are hiring an attorney to help you with your will, you must pay them. That is not a situation where a contingency pay structure makes any sense.
Not All Lawyers Charge The Same Fees
It also should not surprise you if two lawyers charge dramatically different fees for what amounts to the same service. For example, maybe you need to hire a criminal lawyer. A brand-new lawyer who does not work for a powerful, well-regarded firm will probably not cost nearly as much as one who just passed the bar the previous week.
If you want a lawyer with a sparkling reputation and many years of experience in one particular area, you are probably going to have to pay them much more. It will probably be worth it, though, because they have experience on which to draw.
You Can Sometimes Retain A Lawyer For Free
It is also not impossible that you might retain a lawyer and not have to pay them anything. There are only some instances where that might happen, though.
You might face some criminal charges, and you have to appear in court. As the Miranda Rights that the police read to you say, you “have the right to an attorney.” If you are broke, though, and you cannot afford one, the court will provide one for you.
This individual, which the system calls a public defender, works pro bono, meaning that they charge nothing for their services. Some new criminal defense lawyers do this to gain experience in a real courtroom setting, while others do it if they want to serve the public, especially underprivileged individuals.
You should know, though, that the lawyer the court gives you for free might not be any good at what they do. That is why most people hire their own attorney if they have the money to do so.
You Can Sometimes Pay The Lawyer In Installments
You might hire a lawyer, particularly a criminal defense lawyer, who will agree to represent you, even if you do not have a ton of money to pay them. They might take pity on you and agree to let you pay the legal fees back over months or even years.
Not all attorneys will do that, so make sure to describe your financial situation to them before you hire them. If they agree to this sort of deal, make sure to get it in writing.
You Might Pay For More Than The Lawyer
If you pay a lawyer for something like criminal defense, you are paying for more than them arguing your case before a jury. Your money might also fund research into your case. It will pay for investigators, expert witnesses, and more.
Attorneys can charge you for billable hours and all kinds of activities qualify. You would better have lots of money if you hire a lawyer who needs to dedicate weeks or months to your trial.