How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?

How Attorneys Set Their Fees

There are no globally set fees or rates for attorney services. The prices will vary dramatically. Generally, legal fees are established through oral or written agreement between client and attorney, and will take into consideration:

  • Your ability to pay
  • The type of case with its specific requirements
  • The attorney's experience, ability, and reputation
  • The time spent on your legal needs
  • The costs for necessary third-party services (paralegals, investigators, etc.)

Commonly, there are four types of payment methods. The case or required work will often determine which fee arrangement is applied.

  1. Fixed fee: a set payment (usually one-time) for known and common attorney services such as incorporation, wills, consultation, or contracts.
  2. Hourly rate: a total fee that is determined by the attorney's number of work hours (varying according to the attorneys hourly charge rate).
  3. Contingent fee: a percentage of any amount awarded to the client if the lawsuit is successful (in addition to out-of-pocket costs for prosecuting the litigation).
  4. Retainer: a down payment (from which the charges that accrue as the work progresses are deducted).