It can be overwhelming to hire a lawyer, especially if they are required to help with complicated matters such as launching a company, handling a car accident, and drafting a will. It can be easier to know what to expect when you hire a lawyer.
The Right Kind of Lawyer
Some lawyers are experts in specific areas of law such as family, civil, estate, personal injuries, contracts, or civil rights. It is important to find a lawyer with relevant experience in the area you are looking for. It is important to take the time to find the right lawyer.
- For recommendations, ask family, friends, and co-workers.
- Get in touch with the state bar association and your local bar association.
- Refer to a union or group that you belong to for lawyer referrals.
After you have a list of options, you should talk to more than one lawyer before you decide on a lawyer to represent you. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for free or low-cost legal assistance.
Interviewing a Lawyer
Find out whether you will have to pay for the time of the lawyer before your first meeting. The first consultation is often free. Prepare to provide a brief summary of your legal situation as well as the solution that you are seeking. Ask:
- Talk about their experiences with this type of case
- They would find the solution that you are looking for
- What are the odds of you getting the solution that you desire? And other outcomes
- It doesn’t matter if this lawyer, another lawyer, or paralegals from the law firm do the majority of the work in the case.
- Information about the fees of each member in the law firm that would be working on your case
- What time may it take to resolve your legal problem or case
Hire a lawyer
Once you have found the right lawyer for you, continue asking questions until both of you are clear on what you have agreed to. Next, you should get the agreement written. Talk about the possible solutions, your expectations, and the work involved.
- How often and how much will you be updated by the lawyer?
- What information do you need to provide the lawyer in order to assist with the case? Make copies of any original documents you are sending before you send them. Ask your lawyer to send you copies if there are any important documents in your case.
Payment arrangements and fees
You will discuss how you plan to pay your lawyer when you hire them. Lawyers usually charge an hour or a portion of an hour for their work on a case. A flat fee is charged by some lawyers for services such as writing a will. Some lawyers charge a flat fee, while others get a percentage of any money they receive in a case. You should ask your lawyer if they will charge you extra for copying documents, court filing fees, or depositions.
Make sure you get the fee agreement in writing. Review the bill every time you receive it from your lawyer to see where your money is going. If you aren’t sure about any charges, ask the lawyer.
A retainer is a financial deposit that your lawyer asks for before they start working on your case. A retainer may be used by the lawyer to cover expenses or pay fees.
The final cost of a lawyer’s hourly rate will depend on the time it takes to finish your case. The hourly rate of a lawyer depends on their experience and skill. While an experienced lawyer might charge more per hour than a beginner, they may be able to complete the task in a shorter time. You should get a written estimate of how long it will take to finish your case before you agree to pay an hourly fee.
Flat- or «fixed» fees
A flat fee or «fixed» fee is a fixed amount that you pay for a particular service, such as writing a will. For simple services such as drafting incorporation papers or handling uncontested divorce proceedings, many lawyers charge flat fees. Find out what the fixed or flat fee covers before you pay for any service. Ask your lawyer what happens if the simple service you need requires more work than anticipated.
Agreement with contingency fees
A contingency fee arrangement means that the lawyer’s fees are a percentage of the amount you receive if your case is won. This includes reimbursement for expenses such as expert witnesses and filing fees. A contingency fee agreement means that the lawyer accepts the possibility of your case being unsuccessful. Your lawyer will not get attorney’s fees if you don’t receive any money. Some contingency fee agreements may require you to reimburse your lawyer for any case-related expenses, even if you lose the case. Make sure you understand the terms of your agreement.
If you don’t have the funds to pay an hourly or retainer fee, you might consider a contingency arrangement. Consider these things when you are considering a contingency arrangement.
- Most states restrict the types of cases that can be charged contingency fees. Many states do not allow contingency fees in criminal cases.
- You can negotiate the amount of the contingency fees.
- Based on the amount of work that the lawyer will do, the size of the contingency fees should be determined. If the case settles quickly, you may be able to negotiate a fee agreement with the lawyer that provides a lower percentage and a higher percentage for cases that go to trial.
- A sliding-scale fee may be possible to negotiate. You could negotiate a sliding scale fee. For example, the attorney would be paid 30 percent of the amount you receive up to $10,000 and then 20 percent for any additional money you receive up to $50,000. Most states limit the attorney’s fee to a reasonable percentage of the total amount.
There are other ways to get legal help.
You may be eligible for low- or free-cost legal services depending on your financial situation. You may be eligible for free or low-cost legal services in cases such as landlord-tenant and divorce. Online guides, forms, and information about your state’s legal rights can be found. There may be free or very low-cost legal assistance available at state bar associations and at law clinics.