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What Makes Up Legal Fees

It is very challenging to get an accurate quote of your total bill for your legal services at your first consultation. There are a lot of fees that could be added onto the bill during the course of the case. These include: consultation fee, standard billable rates, contingency fee, and referral fees.

Consultation Fee

A consultation is the initial meeting between you and your potential lawyer. This is where you will generally discuss your case and learn about the lawyer. As mentioned in our previous blogs about reputation and experience, this is the time to get to know your potential lawyer. Different lawyers may or may not charge for this initial meeting. If money is tight, make sure you communicate with the office to determine if there will be a charge or not.

Standard Billable Rates

Lawyers charge for everything related to your case, there are three general types of billable rates.

  1. Hourly Fee – Billed by the hour for everything pertaining to your case. This is the most common arrangement.
  2. Flat Fee – A flat fee that you are charged for the entire case. These cases are relatively simple ones such as will preparations, tenant evictions, or mortgage foreclosures.
  3. Retainer Fee – A lawyer quotes a client on the estimated number of billable hours and the client puts that dollar amount into a lawyers account. If the lawyer goes over the set amount, the client is billed for the remainder. If the lawyer finishes the case under hours, the client is refunded the leftover amount.

Contingency Fee

A contingency fee is paid to a lawyer only if a case is successful. A lawyer agrees to take a percentage of the recovery amount. A contingency fee is often used in personal injury cases, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, or other large lawsuits involving money.

Referral Fees

A referral fee is when a lawyer refers you to another lawyer and charges you for that service. This is typically used only on large cases with multiple parties involved.

There are many other little fees that can pop up during your court case such as filling fees, travel fees, and postage charges. You should always review your bill for discrepancies, but be aware that the initial quote given in the beginning of the case can vary from the final bill.

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